The upright row is an exercise that is traditionally used to work on the front shoulder area along with also engaging the trapezius muscles. The standard manner in which to perform the upright row is from a standing position, with the hands grasping the barbell in front of your body, using a narrow grip (hands 6-8 inches apart). You row the bar up above your shoulder region at a moderate clip.
The upright row can be tweaked to make it work the side deltoids instead of the front region. If you are looking at promoting more width in your physique, this altered version of the upright row will do the trick. This movement, termed the “high pull” by Iron Guru Vince Gironda, can really give your side deltoids a great workout.
How do you tweak the upright row to make it utilize the side shoulder muscles? Widen your hand placement by quite a margin. Move your grip out to a point where it is a couple of inches beyond shoulder width at both ends of the bar. And there are a couple of other tweaks as well – the distance you hold the bar and the height of the range.
With the standard upright row you lift the bar in close proximity to the body – just a couple inches away from your torso as you take the weight up. With the high pull version, you hold the bar about a foot away from your body. You keep it at this distance throughout the entire motion.
The range of motion for the high pull is more than the standard upright row (hence the name high pull). Instead of pulling the weight up to the shoulder to chin area of the standard upright row, you pull it to a point as tall as the top of your head. This extra range of motion will feel funny at first, but work on it until it is natural.
Vince Gironda recommended getting into a good groove with this movement, lowering and raising away in a steady rhythm. Maintain control at all times and slow down on every third repetition to ensure that you are keeping the bar under muscle power instead of letting momentum drive the action. This is one of those exercises where you want to “feel” the muscle work, and that muscle in this instance is the side delt region. Perform 4-5 sets of 9 repetitions per set. Take a brief (45 second) rest between sets.
You can insert this movement into your shoulder workout at any point for good benefits. Alter the upright row and watch how it positively alters our body in return.
This article by Paul Becker was published with his permission. Paul, a bodybuilder and fitness expert, is the owner and operator of TrulyHuge.com. Click the link to his website for more bodybuilding tips.