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Barbell Upright Row 101 Video Tutorial

Gym Main Variation Strength


Barbell Upright Row
Barbell Upright Row

Exercise Synopsis

Target Muscle Group


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The Barbell Upright Row is a compound exercise primarily targeting the trapezius muscles while engaging secondary muscle groups such as the biceps and shoulders. Executed with a barbell, this movement involves lifting the weight vertically close to the body, emphasizing the development of the upper trapezius. To perform the exercise, individuals typically grip the barbell with a pronated or wider grip, lifting it upward towards the chin while keeping the elbows higher than the forearms. The Barbell Upright Row contributes to overall shoulder and upper back development, enhancing both strength and muscularity in the targeted areas. Care should be taken to maintain proper form to optimize the exercise's effectiveness and reduce the risk of strain on the shoulder joints.

How to Perform

  1. Load the barbell with the desired weight and position yourself facing it, maintaining a shoulder-width stance for stability.

  2. Grasp the barbell with an overhand grip, ensuring your palms face downward, and place your hands slightly closer than shoulder width apart.

  3. Lift the barbell by bending at the knees while keeping your back straight, ensuring a strong and controlled starting position.

  4. With your back straight and eyes facing forward, raise the barbell straight up, keeping it as close to your body as possible. Aim to lift the bar to approximately chest height, nearly touching your chin, to effectively target the upper traps and shoulders.

  5. Pause briefly at the top of the movement, emphasizing muscle contraction.

  6. Slowly lower the barbell back to the starting position in a controlled manner, engaging the muscles throughout the descent.

  7. Repeat the entire sequence for the desired number of repetitions, focusing on maintaining proper form and controlled movements to optimize the effectiveness of the barbell upright row.


  1. Maintain an emphasis on elevating your elbows above your forearms during the exercise. It is crucial to recognize that the motion primarily originates from the elbows.

  2. Ensure a stable body position throughout the entire set. Resist the temptation to incline forward during the descent of the bar or lean backward as you lift it. Any unnecessary movement of the body compromises the effectiveness of the upright row, diminishing its impact on the targeted muscle groups.

  3. Incorporate a brief pause at the pinnacle of the movement and contract your traps deliberately. This momentary pause intensifies the engagement of the target muscles. Subsequently, execute the lowering phase of the bar with deliberate slowness to introduce an extra layer of challenge and intensity to the exercise.

How Not to Perform

  1. Avoid Excessive Weight: Refrain from using weights that are excessively heavy, as this can lead to compromised form and increase the risk of injury. Select a weight that allows for controlled and precise movements throughout the exercise.

  2. Do Not Use Momentum: Resist the temptation to use momentum to lift the barbell. Jerking or swinging the weight not only diminishes the effectiveness of the exercise but also puts unnecessary strain on joints and connective tissues. Focus on a slow and controlled ascent.

  3. Avoid Shrugging Shoulders: Keep your shoulders relaxed and avoid shrugging them towards your ears during the upright row. Elevating the shoulders excessively can shift the emphasis away from the traps and onto the deltoids, potentially causing discomfort or injury.

  4. Elbows Below Wrists: Ensure that your elbows remain below your wrists throughout the movement. Allowing the elbows to rise higher than the wrists can lead to improper muscle engagement and may contribute to unnecessary stress on the joints.

  5. Do Not Lean Forward: Maintain an upright posture throughout the exercise. Avoid leaning forward, as this can compromise the activation of the targeted muscle group (Traps). Leaning forward shifts the focus away from the traps and can place strain on the lower back.

  6. Avoid Excessive Repetitions: Performing an excessive number of repetitions with improper form can lead to fatigue and compromise the quality of each repetition. Focus on quality over quantity to prevent energy wastage and reduce the risk of injury.

  7. Don't Neglect Full Range of Motion: Avoid shortening the range of motion. Ensure that the barbell is lifted to the point where your elbows are slightly higher than your forearms, maximizing the engagement of the traps. Partial repetitions may hinder overall muscle development.


Variations of fitness exercises refer to different ways of performing a specific exercise or movement to target various muscle groups, intensities, or goals. These variations aim to challenge the body differently, prevent plateaus, and cater to individuals with varying fitness levels.


Smith Machine






Alternative exercises in fitness refer to different movements or activities that target similar muscle groups or serve the same training purpose as the primary exercise. These alternative exercises can be used as substitutes when the original exercise is unavailable or challenging to perform due to various reasons such as equipment limitations, injuries, or personal preferences.


Smith Machine