Barbell Upright Row Video Guide

Exercise Profile

  • Strength
  • Barbell
  • Compound
  • Pull
  • Beginner
  • Biceps, Shoulders
Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge
Traps Exercises Diagram Target Muscle Group

Exercise Instructions

  1. The barbell upright row is one of the best exercises for building the upper traps and shoulders. Load up a barbell with the weight you want to use and stand facing it with your feet at around shoulder width apart.
  2. Grasp the barbell with an overhand grip (palms facing down), and hands slightly closer than shoulder width apart.
  3. Pick the bar up, bending at the knees and keeping your back straight.
  4. Keeping your back straight and eyes facing forwards, lift the bar straight up while keeping it as close to your body as possible (you should pull the bar up to around chest height - nearly touching your chin).
  5. Pause, and then slowly lower the bar back to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for desired reps.

​Upright Row Tips:

  1. Focus on keeping your elbows higher than your forearms. The elbows push the motion.
  2. Keep your body fixed throughout the set. Don't lean forward as you lower the bar, and back as you raise it. Movement of the body makes the upright row easier, and you will not get the most out of it.
  3. Pause and squeeze the traps at the top of the movement, and then lower the bar really slowly if you want to add a bit of intensity to the exercise.

Join over 500k subscribers who receive weekly workouts, diet plans, videos and expert guides from Muscle & Strength.


32 Comments+ Post Comment

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 11/25/2015 - 01:53

Can I replace lateral raises and bent-over lateral raises with barbell upright rows? I think it gets more medial and rear deltoids but I am not sure.


No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 11/30/2015 - 00:26

Can someone please help? Would this exercise be a good substitute for both lateral raises and bent-over lateral raises?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 11/30/2015 - 10:02

I would still include some facepulls to address the rear delts.

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 12/01/2015 - 16:12

Thanks Mike, will give it a go.

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 11/30/2015 - 20:39

Thanks, but I work out a home though. Would bent-over laterals still do and upright rows instead of lateral raises? I also do military presses in front of my neck.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Tue, 12/01/2015 - 15:26

Sure, that could work.

No Profile Pic
Posted Sat, 03/15/2014 - 07:03
Rajesh Rana

give me tips for gaining muscle mass

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 06/09/2014 - 05:24

Eat, train, rest.

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 06/18/2015 - 18:58

Eat, pray, love

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 02/21/2014 - 01:18

Hey Jason I was 302 and I am now 210 in a year done only with diet. Gotta educate yourself on food first...I workout now because it the icing on the cake.

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 12/17/2013 - 18:55

hi i am very thin and i want to gain weight and muscle.

is it ok if i do this bicep workouts. my wieght is 80 lbs.

help. thankyou.

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 12/01/2013 - 12:32

in my opinion he's holding his wrists way to close together. It's all about bringing the elbow up. If you want to get less weight on the wrists take a wider grip.

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 11/22/2013 - 04:08

Hi there,

I need a mass workout program or routine.My body is lean and want to enlarge my muscles.

Help me pls..

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 05/26/2013 - 18:52

I know losing weight is really hard for some people, and I know the 99% of people don't have the time to do what I did.. But what I did to lose 110lbs was I went to wrestling (high school) practice at my local high school for 3 hours a day followed by 4 hours of lifting in the gym (mainly 5 sets of 5 reps or 8 sets of 8 reps) and went from 320lbs down to 210 lbs in about 9 months. I never felt so good about my self until one day I looked in the mirror and decided that I didn't want to die young and wanted to be healthy.

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 04/14/2013 - 06:41

I am in pretty good shape, but can't seem to shed this last bit of chub in the lower abdominal area, nor am I seeing any definition in my muscles. Density is there, but I want that veiny, ripped, shreeded look and it's just not happening. I eat healthy, and I workout daily. Where am I lacking?

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 03/17/2017 - 02:52

Check your hormone levels. Cortisol has a tendency to bind fat around lower abdo, also could be high estrogen or cortisol storing excess water or fat and not giving you the muscle def you want. Something like Atp science or turmeric/cumin might help, otherwise just get a hormone test done and be sure.

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 12/24/2012 - 23:22

Do not over eat. Eat plenty of vegatables and fruits. Avoid soda candy chips fast food. Drink a lot more water. Exercise regularly. Do cardio and strength training. Start walking maybe if your gym has exercise bikes use those. Just look up some strength exercises and pick which ones you like and try them out. It is kind of a trial an error thing. Good Luck.

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 11/30/2012 - 09:14

Is an upright row better to put in with shrugs or with a shoulders day?

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 11/29/2012 - 18:15

What's an alternative exercise for this one? Upright Rows are not very nice to the rotator cuff due to the internal rotation of the upper arm.

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 09/18/2012 - 17:50
Matt S


I used to weigh 378lbs now I'm 215lbs. It takes work but just stay focused and remember lifting weight is one of the best fat burners out there.

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 03/26/2014 - 15:40
Angel G.

Hey Matt, how did you cutted so much weight and how fast you did it?

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 08/19/2012 - 23:55
Chris Cherling

Is this an isolation exercise, like the Dumbbell Lateral Raise. You say to focus on stretch and muscle contraction, not using heavy weights and thats what I want to do with this (Barbell Upright Row). I'm missing two fingers on my left hand and cant seem to do that much extra weight before I begin to have problems.

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 09/17/2012 - 20:19

Have you tried a strap with the left hand? I know many do not like to use them and some down right loath the thought (think its cheating) but it may be worth it in your case. Just an idea.

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 07/05/2012 - 04:36
Alex Chapman

Hi, is it normal to feel this in the chest area? I'm currently trying to even out my pectoral muscles, but when i use this on my shoulder workout i feel my more developed pec is more pumped after doing this....

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 04/06/2012 - 10:56

Hi. Ive been working out for nearly a year ,i do all workouts yet there is very less muscle in my body ,should i start over with beginner workouts ? cause the ones ive been doing are having no effects whatsoever.

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 12/13/2012 - 13:05

You probably haven't been using a high enough weight or doing enough reps/sets. These work just fine if you use enough weight.

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 02/28/2013 - 14:48

Muscle building is all about rhythmic motion and proper weight. Lifting heavy weight will not build muscle but can tear it. Eat good food with high rich protein and fiber and most important, rest your body.Its all about exercising your muscle, feeding him and letting him relax to grow...

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 03/21/2012 - 16:51

hi i am fit and quite big i am looking for a home routine to get a bit bigger and tone up i only have two hand held weights if u could help that would be great thanks

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 03/20/2012 - 19:29
Jason Valencia

Iam trying to lose fat I am 336lbs I like going to the gym but sometime i feel lose in there is there anything i should be doing and not doing

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 03/20/2012 - 19:58

Hi Jason,

Head over to the forum and post your situation. We'll see what we can do to help.

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 03/20/2012 - 21:24

Jason keep trying i was just 334 5'7 sept 2011 now today got off scale 267 it's feels good. now i'm not gone lie im trying eat a little better and hit the gym start with alittle to change alot keep up the good work

No Profile Pic
Posted Sat, 09/14/2013 - 18:20

get a personal trainer, he will guide you