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Digital Products in the Kinesiology of Exercise

Upright Row

Major Muscles and Actions Involved

Upright RowIn the shoulder joint the middle deltoid and supraspinatus are involved in shoulder joint abduction. In this action the upper arms move from a position alongside and slightly in front of the body out to the sides until they are above the level of the shoulders. The middle deltoid and supraspinatus are assisted in this action by the anterior and posterior deltoid, the clavicular portion of the pectoralis major (when the arm is above the horizontal), and the long head of the biceps brachii.

In the shoulder girdle the upper and lower portions of the trapezius and the serratus anterior rotate the scapulae upward. In this action the right scapula rotates counterclockwise and the left scapula rotates clockwise when viewed from the rear. Because the shoulder girdle is elevated, the levator scapulae is also involved (together with the uppermost trapezius). In this action the scapulae move upward in a vertical line. 

Sports Uses

The actions involved in the upright row are used in all sports that require lifting or pulling actions. This includes football (raising the arms to block or tackle), weightlifting (the top pull before the squat under), and gymnastics (inverted pulls on the rings, high bar, and parallel bars). The greatest value of the upright row is in the strengthening of the muscles in the upper and lower middle back and shoulders.

Did you know...

  • In order to get full development of the middle head of the deltoid, it is critical that you keep the barbell close to you with your elbows out to the sides and back. In essence, you want your upper arm to be in the same plane as your shoulders (and body) at all times. If you let your elbows wander to a position in front of your body, even for a few degrees, the stress will move to the anterior deltoid. This will negate the main purpose of this exercise.