Each muscle has at least one exercise which is considered key and you simply wouldn’t leave the gym without performing it. The chest muscle group has the bench press whilst the quadriceps complex has the squat; the shoulder region however has three! The shoulder press, shrugs and upright row can all be considered essential exercises if you’re looking to develop proportionate strength and size within this body region.

Whilst the shoulder press and shrugs are synonymous with the shoulders, out of the three exercises it appears as though the upright row is the most commonly forgotten. For a single compound exercise that quite literally targets every possible muscle you could wish for – including your delts, traps and rhomboids – the FitnessBeans team find it incredible that this exercise could ever be omitted from any individuals’ training regime.

The Upright Row

With all this in mind, the purpose of this article is to raise awareness of not just one of the best shoulder exercises currently available to you, but one of the greatest upper body compound exercises ever known. So without further ado, let us take a look at what is required of you in terms of preparation and execution of this exercise;

How To Execute
  1. Select a barbell with a suitable load that you can lift for the required repetitions.
  2. Stand facing the barbell with your feet shoulder width apart.
  3. Grasp the barbell with an overhand grip, hands slightly closer than shoulder width.
  4. Hold the barbell, with your knees slightly bent and your core rigid.
  5. Lift the barbell upwards whilst keeping it as close to your chest as possible.
  6. The peak of the movement should just be below that of your chin.
  7. Lower the load slowly back to the start. This is one repetition.
  8. Repeat the above until the desired repetitions have been completed.

Simple right? Although the above example utilises a barbell, this piece of gym equipment can easily be altered with individual dumbbells or attachments from a cable pulley machine to add variation to this exercise.

Upright Row: Video Demonstration

Final Word

When it comes to training the upper body and attempting to achieve that frequently wanted V shaped physique, with size emphasis placed through the chest, back and shoulders respectively, there aren’t many exercises that will help you achieve this goal more than the upright row.

So next time you’re due to complete a shoulder session, make sure you think three key exercises, not two and be sure to add the upright row to the ever popular shoulder press and shrugging exercises. You’d be mad not to!