What Muscle Is Developed Doing the Barbell Upright Row?

Use barbell upright rows to tone and sculpt your shoulders.

Use barbell upright rows to tone and sculpt your shoulders.

You might think of rows as a back exercise but it depends on what variation you're talking about. Instead of working your back, barbell upright rows are good for strengthening and shaping your shoulders. That's a worthy goal if you'll be going sleeveless or strapless for an event or would just like to help prevent injury when performing everyday mundane tasks like carrying groceries, hoisting the laundry basket or making the bed.

The Delts

When you perform a barbell upright row, the muscle that is targeted is your lateral deltoid, the muscle that runs along the outside of your shoulder. Including upright rows in your routine can help tone and shape your upper arms which will in turn improve your physique. After all, Sarah Connor couldn't have gotten her killer arms in "The Terminator" without doing a few upright rows.

Proper Form

Successfully executing a barbell upright row is vital if you're going to reap the benefits of the exercise. Start out holding the barbell in a wide, shoulder-width, overhand grip. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and pull the barbell up to your neck. Your elbows will rise to about ear height and your wrists should flex as the bar comes up. Lower the bar back down to the starting position and repeat the movement.

Alternative Upright Rows

Having a few choices for an exercise can come in handy if you don't have access to a barbell and weight plates or if you just want to change up the exercises you do for some variety. There are variations to the barbell upright row that still put the focus on your delts. Upright rows done on a Smith machine, with a cable machine or with dumbbells are all effective alternatives to the barbell upright row.

Other Shoulder Sculpting Exercises

Including upright rows with a few other shoulder exercises once a week will put you on the road to those Linda Hamilton arms you've been envying all these years. In addition to the upright rows, do front dumbbell raises, overhead dumbbell presses and side lateral dumbbell raises once or twice a week. Perform three sets of 12 reps each and if you choose to work your shoulders more than once a week, allow at least 48 hours between workouts.

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About the Author

Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.

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