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Question - Are Upright Rows a Good, Safe Exercise



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Home -> Advanced Training -> Exercise Technique Q&A -> Are Upright Rows Safe


Are upright rows a good exercise for building my deltoids and trapezius muscles? Also, I have read that upright rows will damage my rotator cuffs and put undue stress on my shoulder joints. Is this true or are upright rows a safe exercise to put in my shoulder workout? Do you think upright rows will hurt my shoulders?


Unfortunately with upright rows, it is not a question of IF you will hurt your shoulders but WHEN you will hurt your shoulders.

The position that your arms get placed in when doing the upright row causes what is called "impingement". Essentially this means that every time you raise the bar up, the bones in your shoulders pinch the tendons in your rotator cuff. This can cause instant pain in some people (myself included - I can't even do the movement without weight without hurting) but will inevitably lead to long-term degeneration of the structures of the shoulder joint.

I would stay far away from this movement. It can end your training career if you do it heavy and often.

Many people continue to do this exercise because, aside from the creeping shoulder joint injury problem, the exercise does work the shoulder and trapezius muscles strongly.

Stick to shoulder presses and various lateral raises for working the shoulders and shrugs for working the traps.

Other exercises you should watch out for are behind-the-neck barbell shoulder presses and behind-the-neck pulldowns. These two movements put tension on the shoulder joint in it's most vulnerable position. I would strongly recommend against doing these.


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