Exercise Profile
  • Target Muscle Group
  • Exercise TypeStrength
  • Equipment RequiredBarbell
  • MechanicsCompound
  • Force TypePull
  • Experience LevelBeginner
  • Secondary Muscles
    Biceps, Shoulders
Target Muscle Group


Traps Muscle Anatomy Diagram

Barbell Upright Row 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.

‚ÄčUpright 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.
Posted on: Fri, 03/15/2024 - 17:54

I am hoping someone can help me with upright rows. I have massive knockers so when i do this I kind of go up but then to complete the move I have to go up and out around my boobs. I wasn't sure if I could safely do the whole move with my hands a bit further out to get the straight up and down motion as i then feel it in my arms and shoulders. I feel a bit embarrassed to ask at the gym so I tend to just avoid certain moves but that seems a bit silly if I could just make an accomodation.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 03/24/2024 - 16:18

Thanks for the question, Toni. You can either do this with dumbbells so you can move your hands out as you go up. I think this would be a better version anyway. If you either prefer or must stick to the barbell, then you can go wider. The shift will go more to the side delts, but the rear delts and traps will still benefit. You could also brace yourself against an adjustable bench with the backpad up vertical and placing your chest against it while using the barbell on the other side. I think any of these options could help.

If you don't find them to work, let me know, and we'll figure it out. Thank you for reading M&S!

Posted on: Tue, 05/14/2024 - 03:51

Roger, congratulations to you for such an effective well structured reply. I'm an old bugger of 67 who's just beginning exercises to regain lost quad strength etc after knee replacement. Visited this site an am so impressed with it & your reply exemplifies my thoughts. Cheers mate

Posted on: Fri, 10/22/2021 - 07:46

I think upright row is a bit dangerous exercise. You can hurt your shoulder. Instead of this exercise lateral raise versions are better.

Posted on: Fri, 02/28/2020 - 17:15

Hi what is the replacement exercise for Upright Row because my shoulders hurt really bad and I realised this exercise is actually not safe

Andy Godel
Posted on: Mon, 02/11/2019 - 17:49

Can I use an ez bar for this workout instead of the barbell?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 02/12/2019 - 08:55

Hi Andy,

Yes, you can.

Posted on: 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.


Posted on: 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?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 11/30/2015 - 10:02

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

Posted on: Tue, 12/01/2015 - 16:12

Thanks Mike, will give it a go.

Posted on: 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.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 12/01/2015 - 15:26

Sure, that could work.

Rajesh Rana
Posted on: Sat, 03/15/2014 - 07:03

give me tips for gaining muscle mass

Posted on: Mon, 06/09/2014 - 05:24

Eat, train, rest.

Posted on: Thu, 06/18/2015 - 18:58

Eat, pray, love

Posted on: Mon, 10/12/2020 - 12:11

I spit out my protein shake reading this LMAO

Posted on: 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.

Posted on: 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.

Posted on: 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.

Posted on: 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..

Posted on: 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.

Posted on: 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?

Posted on: 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.

Posted on: 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.

Posted on: Fri, 11/30/2012 - 09:14

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

Posted on: 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.

Matt S
Posted on: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 17:50


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.

Angel G.
Posted on: Wed, 03/26/2014 - 15:40

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

Chris Cherling
Posted on: Sun, 08/19/2012 - 23:55

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.

Posted on: 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.

Alex Chapman
Posted on: Thu, 07/05/2012 - 04:36

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....

Posted on: 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.

Posted on: 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.

Posted on: 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...

Posted on: 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

Jason Valencia
Posted on: Tue, 03/20/2012 - 19:29

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

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: 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.


Posted on: 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

Posted on: Sat, 09/14/2013 - 18:20

get a personal trainer, he will guide you