Wide Grip Upright Row Exercise Guide & FAQ

Wide Grip Upright Row

Wide grip upright row is aimed at the increase in strength and mass of the deltoid muscles. It will give your shoulders the 3-D volume effect that fitness and bodybuilders all over the world are striving for. But it is essential to master the correct technique of the exercise to achieve this result. There are two types of upright row exercise – close and wide grip. 

They are fundamentally different: the movement occurs in different trajectories and the load focus shifts.

The wide grip variant is a more classic variation. It works out the middle bundles of the deltoid muscles. Due to the wide arms position, the movement anatomically resembles swinging the arms with dumbbells to the sides, with the elbow being above the hand at the top point.

This exercise can be performed in an incomplete amplitude, without fully extending the arms at a lower position. The muscles do not have time to relax, and the effect would be much stronger.

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Wide Grip Upright Row: Exercise Tips

For correct and efficient performance and training of the target muscles, follow these tips:

  • Take time for a warm-up and start the workout without weight. Use the grip of your shoulder width or wider. The back should be straight, keep the muscle corset in tension;
  • Hold your breath and make a pull to your chin. The rise should be without sudden movements to the level of deltoids. Move your elbows to the sides. Hold for 1 second at the top, for maximum muscle contraction, and exhale;
  • Do not bow your head; always look straight. Try to work only with deltoids without a strong inclusion of trapezoids. For this, you need to keep your shoulders always at the same level, without lifting them;
  • Slowly and carefully lower the bar as you inhale, and do the next rep without stopping below.

Also, make sure to watch this quick video:


FAQ: What muscles do wide grip upright rows work?

It is a compound exercise that engages multiple muscle groups. Make all your muscles work with hot Bikini Boday Workout!

This exercise works well with the middle deltas, the top, and the middle of the trapezoids. Besides, it activates the smaller muscles called synergists and fixators, which control your body during a performance.

The training aims to outline trapezoids against deltas. The exercise enhances the shape of the trapeziums, draws a clear sculpting line between the trapeziums and the middle deltas, and improves the relief of the trapezoids.

Are wide grip upright rows safe?

This exercise can be quite traumatic, especially for the shoulder joints and for the hands. In both cases, an unnatural joint position can lead to fractures and other injuries. 

Moreover, if you lift your elbows above the level of the deltoids, they become inactive, with the trapezius muscles overtaking their role. The wide grip upright row exercise does not create enough workload in this case, and thus the whole workout becomes useless.

Are upright rows for shoulders or back? 

Exercise trains the upper back, or rather the trapezius muscles. Shoulder muscles (front and middle deltas), biceps and forearms are also included in the work, but with much less intensity.

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The target muscles in the exercise are the trapezoid. As a result, you will pump the trapezius muscles of the back and increase their mass. 

Properly selected weight and observance of the technique for exercise performance will help give relief lines to the middle part of the back and make shoulders visually wider. 

How do you do a wide grip cable row?

A wide grip cable row can replace upright row exercises. It is both more convenient and safer. First, you can quickly change weights. And secondly, the cable row machine is much more often free than the barbells in the gyms. 

It is an additional exercise for the development of back muscles and is usually used in conjunction with other training. 

The method is suitable for the beginners who cannot technically properly perform regular upright row technique the required number of times. Besides, the risk of injury is minimized here.

Do upright rows work biceps?

The main goal of the upright row workouts is to increase the upper part of the back and shoulder muscle volume. During this training, the load on the biceps is minor. But you need to monitor the work of your muscles carefully. If you do it wrong, then the main weight will go on the biceps of the hands.

Do upright rows work rear delts?

The deltoid muscles of a person perform two main functions: they repel weight from the body and attract weight to it. Accordingly, to develop the maximum massive shoulders, you need to use both of these functions. 

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In this case, the bar should not rise above the chest, more precisely, its top point. It is necessary to completely relax your hands and pull the bar exclusively with your elbows to turn off the biceps and forearms from work. At this moment, the shoulder gets the best load. The best grip for this purpose should be slightly wider than the shoulders.

What can I use instead of an upright row?

Many training options can replace an upright row. But the pulls with dumbbells are considered the least dangerous alternative. 

The only change is that you use dumbbells instead of the barbell. But at the same time, the potentially hazardous load on the rotator cuff of the shoulder decreases, and it becomes more intensive on the deltoid muscles.

Wide grip upright row exercise is recommended by almost all trainers of a professional level, but it is not very popular among the beginners. There are several explanations for this fact. Comfort during the performance, as well as high results of strength and relief of the brachial muscle, are achieved only when the load is individually selected. Incorrect return can lead to sharp pain and even injuries.