Mastering the Wide Grip Upright Row for Shoulder Development

Are you looking to take your shoulder development to the next level? The wide grip upright row is a powerful exercise that can help you achieve just that. But mastering this exercise isn’t easy – it takes practice, patience, and proper technique.

The wide grip barbell upright row is a popular exercise that targets multiple muscles in the upper body.

It has been around for decades and is still widely used by bodybuilders, powerlifters, and athletes alike.

In this blog, we’ll discuss the following:

  • What is wide grip upright row
  • muscles worked during the exercise
  • Benefits of upright row
  • How to perform the wide grip upright row

What is the wide grip upright row?

The wide grip upright row is a compound exercise that primarily targets the muscles of the shoulders and upper back.

The wide grip of the upright row refers to the position of the hands on the barbell, which is positioned farther apart than the width of the shoulders.

It involves pulling a barbell or dumbbells vertically towards the chin while keeping the elbows higher than the forearms.

The exercise can be performed with a variety of equipment, such as a barbell, dumbbells, resistance bands, or cable machine.

Wide Grip Upright Row Muscle Worked

Before you start performing the wide grip upright row, it’s important to understand the muscles you’ll be targeting.

Primary Muscles Worked during the wide grip upright barbell row are:

Secondary Muscles Worked during barbell upright row are:

A handful of other muscles worked or play the role of stabilizer muscles during upright row include your,

Benefits of the wide grip upright row

There are several significant benefits to incorporating wide-grip upright rows into your workout routine.

1. Build Shoulder and Upper Back Strength

Wide-grip upright rows are a great way to work and strengthen various upper body muscles, such as the serratus anterior, lateral deltoids, front delts, rear delts, rhomboids, and more.

Regularly doing this exercise can help strengthen these muscles, which can lead to better posture.

2. Shoulder Stability

Research shows that the upright row is one of the best exercises for building shoulder strength and stability.

The exercise targets the smaller, stabilizing muscles of the shoulder joint, which are essential for proper shoulder function and injury prevention.

The enhanced strength and stability gained from this exercise may result in enhanced performance in sports and other physical activities.

3. Versatility

The wide grip upright row can be performed using a variety of equipment, including barbells, dumbbells, resistance bands, or cable machines.

This versatility makes it a useful exercise for any fitness level or gym setup.

4. Improved Performance

The use of wide-grip upright rows can help prepare your body for more advanced strength-training exercises, such as overhead presses, bench presses, and deadlift.

It helps to strengthen and condition the muscles involved in more complex weightlifting movements.

How To Do Wide Grip Barbell Upright Row

Wide Grip Barbell Upright Row
  1. Hold a barbell with an overhand grip and stand with your feet hip-width apart. 
  2. Your grip on the barbell should be wider than shoulder-width apart. Let it hang in front of you.
  3. While keeping your barbell close to your body, lift the bar and get it up to chest height using your arms.
  4. Allow your shoulder blades to move naturally with your shoulder joints.
  5. At the top of the movement, pause for a second.
  6. Now, lower the bar under controlled motion until it comes back to its starting position.
  7. Repeat the wide-grip upright row for your desired number of repetitions.

Common Mistakes To Be Avoid

Here are some common mistakes to avoid when performing the wide grip upright row:

1. Using too heavy weights

One of the most common mistakes people make when performing the wide grip upright row is using too much weight. This approach may place undue strain on your shoulders and increase your risk of injury.

To avoid this, start with a lighter weight and focus on maintaining proper form and technique.

2. Raising the bar too high

Another common mistake is raising the bar too high.

To avoid this, keep the bar close to your body and raise it no higher than the level of your lower or middle chest.

3. Shrugging your shoulders

Avoid shrugging your shoulders as you raise the bar.

This can put unnecessary strain on your neck and shoulders.

4. Leaning back

Lower back strain can be caused by leaning back as you lift the bar.

Keep your core engaged and your torso upright throughout the exercise.

Best Variation Of Wide Grip Upright Row

You can perform wide grip upright rows with a barbell, Smith machine, dumbbell, or cable.

It is helpful to build for huge shoulders and traps.

Here are some of the best variations of the wide grip upright row exercise using dumbbells, smith machine, and cable:

Alternate of wide grip upright row

If you are looking for an alternative to the wide grip upright row, there are several exercises that target similar muscle groups.

Here are some alternatives:

  • Face pull
  • Dumbbell lateral raise
  • Bent over rear delt row
  • Seated cable row


Is the wide grip upright row a safe exercise?

The wide grip upright row is a safe and effective exercise. But if you do it wrong, it can put stress on your shoulders and lead to injury.

It’s important to start with lighter weights and focus on form before increasing the weight.

How wide should my grip be during the wide grip upright row?

You should hold your grip wider than your shoulders, but not so wide that it hurts or strains your shoulders.

How many reps and sets should I do for the wide grip upright row?

Aim for 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps with proper form.

It’s important to rest and recover between sets and workouts.

Should I do the narrow grip upright row instead of the wide grip upright row?

The narrow grip upright row can put more stress on your shoulders and increase your risk of getting hurt.

It’s usually best to focus on the wide grip variation with proper form and technique instead of the narrow grip upright row.


The wide grip upright row is a powerful exercise that targets multiple muscle groups at once.

It allows you to use your shoulder, upper back, and trapezius muscles more effectively.

There are variations of the wide grip upright row that can be performed with dumbbells, a Smith machine, or a cable machine.

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