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Dumbbell Upright Row

What Is A Dumbbell Upright Row

How To Do A Dumbbell Upright Row

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The dumbbell upright row involves the same movement pattern as the barbell upright row, but each arm is required to lift a dumbbell individually. This can be a helpful variation if you have imbalances between the two sides as the stronger side will likely take over in a barbell row, particularly as the weaker side fatigues. There is reduced risk of shoulder impingement when using dumbbells as the arms are able to be positioned wider, reducing strain on the shoulder.

The dumbbell upright row targets the deltoids, trapezius, rhomboids, and biceps by pulling dumbbells from below the waist up to the shoulders. Maintaining correct form and using a manageable load is important to protect the shoulders.

Check out our other upright row variations: barbell upright row, cable upright row

Commonly Asked Questions On Dumbbell Upright Rows

What Does The Upright Dumbbell Row Work?

The dumbbell upright row works the shoulders and upper back, with the deltoids and traps doing the bulk of the work. The core must also be engaged to ensure the back remains neutral and tension remains on the shoulders. As arms are worked unilaterally, this exercise helps to improve muscular imbalances.

Are Dumbbell Upright Rows Safe?

The safety of the upright row is often questioned in the fitness industry as the positioning can put the shoulder at risk of impingement. The dumbbell variation has a lower risk of this compared to the barbell upright row as the grip is not fixed, which means you can choose a position which puts less strain on the shoulder. Using correct form and a lower weight with higher reps also minimises risk of injury with this exercise.

Should I Do Upright Rows With Dumbbells Or A Barbell?

The dumbbell and barbell upright row both work the same muscles in the same movement pattern, and either option is fine. That said, the dumbbell variation is considered to be a safer option as there is more flexibility with positioning, which reduces discomfort on the shoulders and wrist. Using dumbbells can also help to eliminate muscular imbalances between the two sides.

Dumbbell Upright Row Tips

Choose a weight that allows you to perform at least 8 reps with good form, as going for a mid rep range with a lighter load has a lower risk of injury than heavy weight with low reps for this exercise. If there is a difference in strength between the two sides, choose a weight based on your weaker side.

Engaging your core will protect the lower back from strain and ensure the shoulders drive the movement. Think about pulling your belly button towards your pelvis to ensure a neutral spine and prevent pressure on the lower back.

How To Do A Dumbbell Upright Row

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand using a pronated grip, so that your palms are facing downwards, then assume a shoulder width stance with the arms extended so that the dumbbells sit at hip height.

  2. Engage your core and pull the dumbbells up towards your shoulders, making sure to keep the dumbbells close to your body by allowing the elbows to come up and out to the sides.

  3. Raise the dumbbells until they are at mid chest height or shoulder height based on how comfortable the shoulders feel.

  4. Revert the movement by slowly lowering the dumbbells to the starting position. 

If you’re not sure if any of the above exercises are suitable for you, please consult your doctor before you start it. Need guidance on how to perform the exercise? Ask a personal trainer at your gym.