T Nation

Upright Rows

How effective are wide grip upright rows for developing the upper traps, medial delts and rear delts?

I am following chads total body workout at the moment and so have replaced isolation exercises for these 3 muscles with upright rows (wide grip to avoid any problems associated with the narrow grip).

Are the isolation exercises more effective?

A more narrow grip tends to involve the traps more, and a wider (shoulder width) grip tends to hit the delts, the real key is the position of the elbows, you want to keep them pointed up, or in that general direction. In addition, when doing the widge grip version,as you pull the bar up, pull it out in front of you about 10-12 inches, pause at the top and feel the delts contract and then lower the weight. The wide grip upright row mimics the arm position of lateral raises.

The biggest mistake anyone can make with upright rows is doing them with heavy weight. That’s an wear&tear waiting to happen. A 10 rep weight with multiple sets at least and with proper form. If you’re jerking the bar it’s a warning of incorrect execution.

According to my little book of exercise anatomy, which includes nifty pencil sketches with targeted muscles colored red, says…

“This exercise works the upper trapezius and medial-posterior deltoid groups most intensely… The wider your grip, the more the movement works the deltoids and the less it works the trapezius muscles.”

I find it a great way to balance the ease with which I can develop the anterior deltoid compared to the other shoulder muscles.

I’ve also read somewhere that your delts are recruited until your arms are raised laterally, then, as you continue to lift for that final few inches, your traps are used to continue the movement. It’s not in my book though.

Anyway, consider getting yourself a book like this. It really helps when considering how to balance your development and it really highlights the grip or foot placement variations that you can use to shift what an exercise targets.

Finally, it issues cautions for various exercises, based on common injuries, and how to avoid them. Be smart, lift for life.

I would concur with the advice not to turn upright rows into a power move. I would also like to add a few more variations.

Cable Upright rows-smoother pull and constant tension, especially if you hold the top position for a few seconds.

Dumbell upright rows: using a wide “grip” keep the dumbells apart and holding them 10-12 inches in front of the body.

Dumbell Upright rows where you row the bells up along side of your body-think of a monkey scratching his armpits and you get the idea-this is very, very effective.

I personally would never do them again, they are one of the exercises I never recommend for my cleints, too risky on the shoulder joint.

[quote]6foot6 wrote:
I personally would never do them again, they are one of the exercises I never recommend for my cleints, too risky on the shoulder joint.[/quote]

I’ve seen that mentioned several places recently because of their effect on the rotator cuff. Would a wide grip be OK?

Personally, I don’t like this movement for several reasons. I would much rather perform Cleans from the floor which will work the traps and many other muscle groups as well!

Done them for years, no worries. I switch between these and the power variation, high pulls.

All exercise is ‘risky’.

As long as you’re including the right accessory work for the rotator cuff muscles and you don’t drop the bastard onto your thighs after the pull, its just another lift.

There are just as many indications for concern in any overhead lift (incline press, military).

And Vroom, I have also heard a similar theory: In overhead presses, the delts become stabliizers when the upper arm drops below horizontal. Any lifting motion from below horizontal originates from the triceps.

Not sure how I feel about that one though, I’ve never found a correlating text.

Upright rows are very effective in making my shoulders go ‘OW’. The bad ow too.

[quote]t bone y2j wrote:
All exercise is ‘risky’.
[/quote]

True, but some exercises are too risky.

I really don’t think it’s a good idea to combine substantial internal rotation and abduction of the shoulder.

The monkey scratching version could be ok - and now that I think about it I wouldn’t mind trying a supinated dumbbell version - but no way I’m ever going near the standard barbell shoulder wrecker version.

I find greater activation of the trapezius occurs during power movements such as cleans,snatches, and high pulls.
I have done upright rows for years w/o
any shoulder injuries. They are definitely a good deltoid exercise.