Why You Should Avoid the Upright Row Exercise and Safer Alternatives for Deltoid Development

In the world of weightlifting, proper form and technique are paramount to prevent injuries and optimize muscle engagement. One exercise that has garnered significant scrutiny from fitness experts is the upright row.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the reasons why you should consider excluding the upright row from your workout regimen and suggest safer alternatives for achieving effective deltoid development.

The Issue with Upright Rows

The upright row exercise entails gripping a barbell with an overhand grip and elevating your elbows while keeping the barbell close to your body. While it may appear as an effective means to target your shoulder muscles, this exercise poses a series of problems.

image from weighttraining.guide

Shoulder Internal Rotation

One of the primary concerns with upright rows is the internal rotation of the shoulders. When performing this exercise, your shoulders are forced into an internally rotated position, which can lead to issues.

Impact on Shoulder Health

The internal rotation during upright rows results in tendons and nerves being pinched, potentially leading to discomfort and even injury. Moreover, the head of the humerus repeatedly impacts the acromioclavicular joint at the top of the shoulder, increasing the risk of injury.

Safer Alternatives for Deltoid Development

Now that we understand the potential risks associated with upright rows, let’s explore safer alternatives that effectively target the deltoid muscles.

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

The dumbbell shoulder press is a highly effective exercise for targeting the anterior deltoid. It elicits significantly higher muscle activation compared to the upright row while maintaining a neutral shoulder position.

45-Degree Incline Row

For a comprehensive shoulder workout that also involves the upper back, the 45-degree incline row is highly recommended. This exercise not only targets the deltoid muscles but also strengthens the upper back, offering great benefits.

Images and Reference from ACE Research Identifies Top Shoulder Exercises by acefitness


Incorporating exercises that prioritize shoulder health while effectively targeting the deltoid muscles is essential for a safe and productive workout routine. By avoiding the upright row and opting for safer alternatives, such as the 45-degree incline row, you can achieve your fitness goals without the risk of shoulder injury. Remember, fitness should enhance your well-being, not compromise it.

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