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Intense Shoulder Workout – Dumbbell Upright Rows

Dumbbell upright rows develop the deltoid muscles of the shoulders and traps. Exercise makes the shoulder girdle and upper back stronger, and the figure more prominent and harmonious. Dumbbell upright rows are widely used in bodybuilding along with the military press and shrugs. You can also work the delta by raising your arms across the sides, but upright rows are considered a more effective exercise.

What muscles does the exercise involve?

Standing dumbbell upright row works out several muscle groups at once. It’s possible to shift the emphasis of the load in one direction or another. It depends on the grip width and the height of the elbows. More on this later.


So, the main working muscles are:

  • Deltoid. The middle and front beams receive the greatest load

  • Trapeze. The traps are noticeably engaged when your elbows are raised above the horizontal position. In addition, the width of the grip affects the degree of participation of the trapezoids in movement. With a narrower grip, the load on these muscles is more noticeable. However, the remark is more relevant for barbells than for dumbbells


Additionally, the dumbbell upright rows utilize the core stabilizers and biceps muscles.

Exercise technique

Dumbbell upright rows are done like this:

1Take dumbbells, stand up straight and place your feet shoulder-width apart. Lower your arms in front of you, wrists turned to the body, elbows slightly bent. The back is straight, the gaze is directed forward. There is a natural deflection in the lower back

2Bend your arms with dumbbells, pointing your elbows up. The distance between the dumbbells doesn’t change. The dumbbells move along the body, the body is straight, the elbows don’t move forward. Bring the dumbbells to the level of the chin and the elbows to the highest possible height. Before reaching parallel with the floor, mainly the deltoid muscles work, after which the trapeziums are connected. At the top, concentrate on maximizing muscle tension

3Lower the dumbbells along the body to the starting position

As for the number of reps and sets, the recommendations are as follows. To gain shoulder mass and increase muscle volume – 8-12 reps in 3-4 sets.

If you are an experienced athlete working with heavyweights, do 4-6 reps. Such a technique gives growth and develops muscle strength.

“When doing the exercise, try to avoid jerking and throwing weight up. This is not advisable, since instead of the required muscles, others will work. In addition, any jerky movements when using weights create unnecessary stress on the ligamentous apparatus.”

Technique mistakes

For the exercise to give the maximum effect and not harm the joints and ligaments, pay attention to the popular mistakes. This will make it easier for you to control your movements and work on muscle development without the risk of injury:

  • Don’t extend your elbows forward when lifting the dumbbells. It’s a traumatic position for the shoulder joints. The elbows move across the sides in a vertical plane

  • Keep the body straight throughout the entire movement. Don’t bend your neck and back. Any deviations from the correct body position reduce the load on the target muscles

  • Don’t use too much weight, which will force you to break the technique. This won’t give the desired effect, you’ll just waste your time

Dumbbell upright rows are more gentle on the joints than the same barbell exercise. You’ll be able to gain beautiful shoulder muscles, increase their volume and develop strength by doing it in combination with other exercises.

I'm a professional fitness instructor and nutritionist, runner, husband and father. I do my best in providing the right guidance when it comes to the grounds of sexual health, nutrition and common fitness.

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