Why Upright Rows Are Dangerous And Bad For Your Shoulders

upright rows bad

Lately I’ve been seeing a lot more flack on my youtube video on how upright rows are bad.

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I’ve deleted some of the negative attacking comments but if you look through them you’ll see responses like

Idiot comment # 1:”For those of you skinny guys, go ahead and think upright rows are dangerous but the rest of us will keep building cannonball delts with them”

My reponse: You sir, are a tool. Taking you for your word and assuming you really do have cannonball delts then you are on steroids are routinely appear in the pages of various bodybuilding magazines. No one else’s shoulders can be accurately described as “cannonball”.

Idiot comment # 2:” I think I’ll just keep listening to people like (pro bodybuilders name removed). He’s a big man…and a winner, not a whiner about aches and pains. Bodybuilding, the name in itself is deceptive. Its more like Body Destruction. The pain comes as part of the game. Learn from it.”

My response:You sir, are a bigger tool then the first idiot. That’s your whole arrangement?  Since I’m 6’6 with an impressive physique, have a masters degree in human movement, am featured in all the top fitness magazines and edcauted, I’m wrong and a bodybuilder is right just because he’s massive? Yes, no pain no gain. Have fun living in your mothers basement.

Idiot comment #3: “This video is all bro science”

My response: Yes because anatomy and joint movement is completely made up. I’m sorry that I offended you and the little that you know.

Why an upright row is dangerous and bad for your shoulders

If you sit for eight to nine hours a day  or have followed a pressing dominant training program for years then upright rows are a terrible option for you. Does either describe you? I’d be surprised if it didn’t. You more then likely have an anterior titled scapulae, scapulae winging and humeral (shoulder) internal rotation. As a result, you’ll have limited and profoundly decreased flexibility. This lack of flexibility prevents you to starting in the proper position to perform upright rows.

No, they aren’t bad for everyone. Unless you stand with a broomstick handle behind your arms all day to correct your shoulder posture while also getting daily soft tissue work, your not the guy or girl to perform them.

Let’s say you do decided to perform upright rows and have for years without any pain, your still at a greater risk of subacromical impingement.  At this point it becomes a matter of time before a significant injury sidelines your workouts and impairs your daily activity.

As you raise the barbell upright, your scapulae can’t tilt posteriorly. That isn’t where the potential pain ends. Common compensation patterns include increased forward neck protrusion which increases the incidence of severe headaches amongst other issues.

Shoulder anatomy for the haters

Now imagine you’re about to begin a rep of the upright row. What’s happening with your shoulder joint?

  • You’ve maximally rotated your humerus into internal rotation. Now remember that you’re already in internal rotation and your shoulder flexibility is compromised. You’ve just FORCED your shoulder to get slightly more internal rotation.
  • You’ve taken a pronated (hands over the bar) grip that even further forces your humerus into internal rotation while also minimizing the subacromial space. Your humeral head is jammed into your glenoid fossa making little, if any, room for the tendons of the rotator cuff to move. You’re forcing them in a position that increases the likelihood of them snapping.
  • Now as you raise the barbell you’re abducting your humerus while flexing it. Both actions are known to further compress and apply tension to the tendons of the rotator cuff.

Still don’t believe that upright rows are terrible for your shoulders? Why are you doing them in the first place if your goal is “no pain no gain” or to have “cannonball” delts? Wouldn’t you be served better to perform exercises that allow you to lift heavier weight such as high pulls, cleans, deadlifts and various shrugs?

Take that…haters…

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