Home » Barbell Upright Row: The Full Guide

Barbell Upright Row: The Full Guide

Barbell Upright Row

Performing the same workout every day can be boring and reduce effectiveness. In strength training, adding variety is crucial for consistent results. Traditional exercises like the deadlift or barbell row can’t be replaced due to their amazing benefits. But you can perform other exercises with them to maintain the excitement of the workout. One such move is the barbell upright row.

The upright row is a pulling exercise that targets your posterior chain muscles. The posterior chain is the muscles at the upper backside of your body including your shoulders and back muscles. Training these muscles helps in doing daily activities more efficiently. This functional movement is beneficial for people who have a sitting job.

During this exercise, the primary muscles trained are the front and lateral heads of your deltoid muscles (shoulders). It also works the rhomboids and trapezius (upper and middle back muscles). The secondary muscles involved are your biceps, forearms, and abs (abdominal muscles) for stabilizing the movement.

The unique nature of the barbell upright row makes it a great addition to your upper body workout. You only need a barbell with external weights to perform this exercise. The minimum requirement of equipment and space means the upright row can be added to your home workout. Performing this exercise adds variety to your barbell workout and improves your form for other rowing exercises.

Moreover, the upright row is famous among weightlifters and bodybuilders for isolating upper-body muscles. Some studies have shown that this move is also effective for athletes and military training.

In this article, we’ll learn about the benefits of doing this exercise, the correct technique, and some common mistakes. So grab a barbell and let’s begin!

Benefits Of Barbell Upright Row

Below are some of the major benefits of doing the barbell upright row. These benefits are genuine and backed by research. It’s necessary to perform this exercise with a proper form to get the most out of it.

1. Strengthens Your Core

Although the primary focus of the upright row is on your posterior muscles, your abs also play an important role. While performing this exercise your core muscles are engaged to maintain a stable form. Working your abdominal muscles is beneficial for doing other exercises with better stability and balance. A strong core also improves your performance in sports activities and helps in doing daily activities more efficiently. Training your core can give you a strong posture and prevent injuries.

2. Promotes Muscle Growth In Your Upper Body

The barbell upright row is an amazing move to train your posterior chain muscles. Developing your shoulder and upper back muscles improves your performance in other upper-body exercises. It also helps in lifting heavy things in your daily life. Working more than one muscle at a time provides many benefits like better muscle growth and toning. It also makes your workout short with no change in results. Working your posterior muscles improves the movement of your shoulder joints and maintains stability while lifting heavy.

3. Requires Minimum Equipment

This exercise is accessible whether performed at a gym or your home. The standard upright row is performed with a barbell and some external weights. For variations, you need a set of dumbbells, kettlebells, or a resistance band. All these types of equipment require less space and are suitable for your home. Adding the upright row to your home workout will help you with time management and give results at your comfort.

4. Helps In Learning Weight Lifting Techniques

One of the key components of weight lifting is the position of the barbell. While lifting, the barbell should be close to your body. This part requires a lot of practice and is crucial for the best results. The barbell upright row is a great way to practice the correct technique of weight lifting. It also builds explosive strength in your posterior muscles for lifting the weights.

Step By Step Instructions

Below is a step-by-step guide for performing this exercise with the correct technique. Following these steps will improve your form and reduce the risk of injuries.

1. Start this exercise by standing tall with your feet apart. Hold the barbell in front of your thighs with your arms extended. Grab the barbell with an overhand grip (palms facing your body). Your hands should be shoulder-width apart.

2. Engage your core and retract your shoulder blades. Lift the barbell by bending your elbows in the outward direction. Bring the bar to the level of your shoulders. Breathe in while raising the weight. Always keep the barbell close to your body.

3. Hold the movement at the top while focusing on your shoulders. Lower the bar back to the starting position. Breathe out while lowering the weights in a controlled motion. This is one repetition of the barbell upright row.

4. Aim for doing 3-4 sets of 10-15 repetitions with weights according to your fitness level. Keep increasing the intensity of the exercise as you master the form.

Common Mistakes

While doing the upright row provides many benefits there are some common mistakes you need to know about. Learning about these mistakes will help you get the full benefits of this exercise.

Lifting Too Heavy

Always choose weights according to your strength. Lifting too heavy can put too much stress on your joints which can cause injuries. It also reduces the effectiveness of the exercise by adding momentum.

Position Of Your Elbows

During the start of the exercise, It’s important to keep a slight bend in your elbows. Not locking your elbow joints will maintain the focus on your posterior muscles. Always pause the movement at shoulder level. Moving your shoulders too high can cause injuries.

Keep Your Torso Upright

Keeping your back straight throughout the movement is important to keep your core engaged. Your abdominal muscles play a huge role in maintaining a stable form. Maintaining an upright torso also helps in isolating your shoulder and upper back muscles.

Moving Too Fast

It’s crucial to lift the barbell in a controlled motion to properly contract your muscles. Lifting too fast will shift the focus from the muscles to your joints. Choose the weights that allow you to lift the barbell with a controlled motion.


The barbell upright row is an amazing and unique way to target your posterior chain muscles (shoulders and upper back). Training these muscle groups allows you to lift heavy and protects your shoulder joint from injuries. Strong posterior chain muscles are also useful in doing daily activities more efficiently. You’ll reap all the benefits that this exercise offers by working on your form.

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