Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Proper Range of Motion Part 5: Upright Row

In my years of going to the gym, I have seen far more people do this exercise wrong than right. Sometimes it's by using too much weight, in which case the bar only moves a few inches, or the lower back is used to cheat the bar up, causing incredible compression. But the most common mistake is committed by people who are just trying to work through a complete range of motion.

Try this now: raise your arms laterally from down at your sides to over your head. You'll notice that they naturally rotate after they get just above horizontal.

When doing an upright row (also known as a shoulder row), the movement should stop when your upper arms are parallel with the ground. This will place the bar at approximately your nipple line. If you are lifting higher than this, notice that Your upper arms aren't going up, only your forearms. The bar is going higher not because your delts and traps are lifting it higher, but because you are rotating the bar up. This is bad because:

1. With this exercise, you are trying to build your delts and traps, and any movement beyond horizontal is doing nothing for these muscles

2. Your upright row is probably going to be 2.5 times what you use for your external rotator exercise, making this a prime way to rip your shoulders apart.

The next time you do your upright row, feel when your upper arms stop moving up and stop there. You will be able to use a weight that is appropriate for your shoulders, and you'll reduce your risk of shoulder injury.

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