Is The Upright Row Bad For You?

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The Upright row is an exercise that targets the shoulder and elbow. It is one of the most effective ways to build and develop more muscle, especially in these body parts. This exercise is famous amongst athletes, bodybuilders, and several fitness enthusiasts.

Despite being such a popular exercise, there seems to be a concern about the dangers of attempting the upright row.

As you continue reading this article, you will learn about the Upright row in-depth, whether this exercise can be potentially harmful to you, and why.

You will also understand some common mistakes and the right way to attempt the upright row.

To know more, continue scrolling.


What Is The Upright Row?

The Upright Row

As mentioned above, the Upright row is a form of exercise that targets the muscle groups in our shoulders, known as deltoids and elbows. 

One of the qualities of this exercise is that you can do it anywhere, anytime, provided you have the right equipment, which is either a barbell or a dumbbell.

You can perform the upright row exercise by holding your accessory, “rowing” it upwards towards your chest, and lowering it slowly with controlled motion.

However, this exercise is not as easy as it seems. There are some complications involved with the Upright row. To know what these complications are, continue to read this article.


Is The Upright Row Bad For You?

Before you perform the upright row exercise, there are a few points that you need to keep in mind.

Firstly, the shoulder joints are pretty complex. They consist of four joints: the glenohumeral joint, the scapulothoracic joint, the acromioclavicular joint, and the sternoclavicular joint.

Because all the muscle groups of the shoulder work together, you feel the impact on one joint across the shoulder.

One of the significant concerns of attempting the upright row exercise is the shortening or reducing of the acromioclavicular joint. 

When you lift the dumbbell or barbell in an upward motion, you feel a pinching sensation in your shoulder blades. In turn, it can also cause inflammation.

It may complicate if you overdo this exercise despite the discomfort.

You feel this pinching sensation because of the unnatural movement of the shoulder blades. The natural movement of the shoulders is suited for outward motion – which does not take place while attempting the upright bow.

On the contrary, this exercise forces your shoulder blades to turn inwards, which causes discomfort. In some cases, it may get extreme, leaving no option but to avoid this exercise.

Another downside that is usually not taken into account is wrist injuries.

However, this only occurs if your wrists are not in the correct position.

While the upright row is not necessarily an insufficient or over-exerting exercise for you, there are a few downsides to attempting this exercise. 

This is simply because of some common mistakes you might make while doing this exercise. To know what these mistakes are and how you can avoid them, keep reading.


What Are Some Common Mistakes You Make While Attempting The Upright Row?

Let us look at some of the common mistakes while attempting the upright bow that may cause discomfort and irritation –

1. Pulling the barbell way too high

This is a rookie mistake that most people make while starting with upright rows.

As you have already rotated your shoulder muscles inwards, pulling it above the chest will cause your joint to shorten. In turn, this will cause acute pain, discomfort, and irritation.

To know how to attempt the proper form of an upright row, head over to the “right way to do an upright row” section.


2. Not positioning your arms correctly

Not positioning your arms correctly

In addition to what was mentioned in the first mistake, do not raise your arms above the shoulder. 

As your shoulders are already rotated inwards, it goes against its natural movement and mobility. Therefore, the unnecessary elevation of your arms will only add more stress to your shoulder muscles.

Moreover, keeping the arms close can cause wrist injuries as they bend towards the side. This is known as the ulnar deviation – and it must be avoided at all costs.


3. Lifting an unnecessarily heavy barbell

Lifting an unnecessarily heavy barbell

Sometimes, people tend to misinterpret heavy equipment for faster results. However, this is not the case at all.

Lifting a barbell heavier than what you can lift will only worsen your shoulder impingement. This will also adversely affect your shoulder joints in the long run.


What Is The Right Way To Attempt The Upright Row?

When attempting the upright row, how should your body posture, arm position, and shoulders be? Let us dig deeper and find out!

1. Check the position of your back and torso.

Your back and torso should be straight while attempting this exercise. Ensure that there is no over-curvature of your spine as it can have adverse repercussions.

Moreover, avoid any twisting and turning while doing the upright bow.


2. Engage your core and practice deep breathing.

Keeping the first point in mind, you need to engage your core while doing this exercise. Engaging your core will help your torso remain intact.

While pulling the barbell up, make sure you breathe deep and slow. This will avoid shoulder impingement.


3. Place your wrists at the hip-width on the barbell.

Place your wrists at the hip-width on the barbell

This is the most crucial point to keep in mind while attempting the upright row. As mentioned in the second mistake, keeping your arms and wrists too close to each other can cause injuries and deformities.

Moreover, placing your wrists correctly will also help you lift the barbell as much as is required.


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The upright row is a popular exercise with several misconceptions surrounding it. While there are downsides such as wrist injuries and shoulder impingement, these can all be taken care of.

You have to ensure that your form is correct, your posture is proper, your core is engaged, and you practice deep breathing while pulling the barbell up.

The aim is not to lift the barbell high. It is to lift correctly to maximize results and avoid any injuries.

Please share your experiences and advice with the readers in the comments below if you practice upright rows. Make sure you stay connected with our page and come back for more informative articles!

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