Are you using the upright row to increase your shoulder size and muscle?
Would you also like to build bigger traps and improve your ability to clean and snatch?
Then steer clear of the upright row. There is no better way to mess up your shoulders than by doing upright row exercises.
Instead, there are many safer upright row alternatives that you can do at home.
So what is the best alternative to upright row?
Well, the lateral raise is the best alternative to upright row since it offers all the benefits of the upright row with reduced risk of a shoulder injury.
During the lateral raise, the muscles on the front and sides of your shoulders move much the same as they do during the upright row making it an excellent alternative.
Similar exercises like the one mentioned above increase the strength and size of your upper body.
It also works your side deltoids and upper trapezius muscles.
These alternatives will also help work your front and rear deltoids, forearms, biceps, and your rhomboids too.
Upright Row Alternatives
Professional bodybuilders would agree that the upright row is one of the most notorious routines to cause shoulder injuries.
The traditional upright row causes added anteriorly-directed joint stress to the shoulder girdle.
This is especially when the thoracic spine positioning and shoulder mobility are less than perfect. Or in other words, you have bad posture.
Bad posture, in turn, creates an internally rotated movement at the gleno-humeral joint which reduces the area of structures so it can glide through.
Additionally, bad posture prevents the shoulder blades from working correctly.
Therefore, trying upright row exercises with dysfunctional posture is a sure recipe for disaster or in this case, excruciating pain.
Instead, focus on the next few exercises, which are all great upright row alternatives:
As mentioned earlier, depending on the grip and angles used, the lateral raise is a highly effective way of increasing shoulder posterior, anterior, and medial heads.
It may not increase trap hypertrophy significantly but does increase muscle mass in similar muscle groups to the upright row.
If you want to increase posterior deltoid, trap and rhomboid hypertrophy, this is an excellent movement.
It is more like a horizontal row; however, it can be customized to resemble a hybrid horizontal and vertical row when you come from lower positions.
This exercise offers more customized positioning with the angles and grip at which to train.
Seated Muscle Snatch
For those looking to build serious boulder for shoulder and huge traps, this is the Olympic weightlifting movement you need.
This exercise offers some of the benefits of the high pull but also works the shoulder pressing and external rotation that ultimately makes the movement well balanced.
The traps, posterior shoulder, and upper body are forced to move during the pull as the seated muscle snatch takes the hips and legs out of the movement.
Snatch Grip High Pull
The snatch grip high pull is much more than an Olympic movement.
It’s a slight variation of the upright row and encourages you to take a wider grip, also known as a “snatch grip.”
This then keeps the bar closer to the body during the pull. The technique is performed is by increasing the elevation of the elbows.
The upper back and posterior shoulder are consequently worked out more effectively.
Reasons to Choose Upright Row Alternatives
While there are many benefits to the barbell upright row, it can cause weakness and pain in the shoulder.
The risk of shoulder impingement is also heightened due to the movements that occur during this routine.
Shoulder impingement occurs when the fibrous bodies and tissue inside the shoulder joint become squeezed between the bone protrusion on the bottom of the scapula and the top of the upper arm.
This happens as the arm rotates in the shoulder capsule.
This condition causes lack of functionality due to pain and weakness in the shoulder. Over time, shoulder tendons could fray and lead to a rotator cuff tear.
So barbell upright rows should be avoided if you have trouble with reaching behind your back or generally with overhead activities.
High Amounts of Loading
Two of the main groups responsible for the upright row movement are the shoulder and deltoids.
Issues arise when heavy loads are moved through shrugging, heavy arm pulling, and hip extension as opposed to a targeted and smooth contraction from the shoulder muscles.
So this routine becomes a problem when you do not understand how to slate a muscle/movement or have the ability to move freely in the shoulder joint.
Excessive Internal Rotation
The upright row involves significant amounts of internal rotation as you place your shoulder in when getting your grip on the bar.
This is also a poor technique that ultimately leads to excessive loading.
As a rule of thumb if you experience any joint pain due to an exercise or routine, stop immediately and get checked out by a medical or trained professional.
Follow any and all medical advice thereon even if it means refraining from workouts for a while.
Are Upright Rows Really the Devil?
Some individuals swear that it is the most dangerous upper body exercise while athletes and coaches swear that they are useful in building shoulder and back muscles.
However, if you have impingement issues, upright rows should be avoided like the plague.
How to tell if you have shoulder Impingement?
If you have pain while doing upright rows, you probably have shoulder impingement.
One sure way to get confirmation of this is to have a Neer Test conducted under the guidance of a trained professional.
What are Upright Row Alternatives Good for?
These are shoulder and back exercises which will help you widen your shoulders and narrow your waist while working out your trapezius and deltoid muscles.