How to Strengthen Your Shoulders with the Upright Row

A sedentary lifestyle can contribute to shoulder damage, so be sure to include shoulder exercises in your workout. Strengthen shoulders with the upright row exercise, which works your deltoids, upper back muscles, and, indirectly, your biceps.

Because most people find that their shoulder muscles develop relatively quickly, even a little time spent on shoulder exercises may give you strong, sculpted shoulders, which, by comparison, can make your waist appear slimmer and a large derriere appear smaller.

More importantly, developing strong, healthy shoulder muscles can prevent many of the injuries caused by ordinary activities such as loading groceries, lifting children, moving furniture, or pitching a ball.

To do the upright row exercise:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Hold a dumbbell in each hand down in front of your legs, with your palms facing your thighs and your arms fully extended.

    Be sure to balance your body weight. Leaning too much on one side or rocking back and forth will th
    Be sure to balance your body weight. Leaning too much on one side or rocking back and forth will throw off your balance.
  2. Using slow and controlled movements, raise your upper arms until they are parallel to the floor. Your fists and forearms should be pointing down. Hold for a few seconds and then slowly return to start.

    Do one or two sets of eight to ten repetitions. As you progress, you can do two or three sets of eight to ten repetitions with increased weight.

Avoid using jerky movements, they could mean that you are using weights that are too heavy, which cause an injury. Use only the amount of weight you can handle while still maintaining the described correct form.

Use these adjustments according to your fitness level:

  • Use a neutral grip: You can make the Upright Row easier by holding the weights with a neutral grip, meaning in this case that your palms are facing each other, and then raising your shoulders up and down as if shrugging.

  • Try an Alternating Upright Row: For an advanced move, do this exercise one arm at a time.