Upright Rows

The Trapezius muscle group derives its name from its trapezium-like shape; the corners being the insertion points at the neck, the shoulders, and the thoracic vertebra. The mid-fibres (running between the shoulders) are primarily responsible for elevation of the shoulders and can be worked during exercises such as Stiff-Arm Circles (covered previously), High Pulls, Shrugs, and Upright Rows. This month, we look at Upright Rows, which can be performed with pulleys, bands, barbells, smith machine, or dumbbells. Here, we demonstrate with dumbbells:

Dumbbell Upright Rows, Start


Dumbbell Upright Rows


  1. Select a sensible weight and assume the Start-Position, bending your elbows ever-so-slightly, taking the strain onto your arms.
  2. Inhale and, then, exhale as you pull the weight close up the front of your body, ensuring your elbows remain higher than your hands. Mid-Position.
  3. Lower the weight slowly to the Start-Position, ensuring you do not lock out your elbows, and repeat.

Upright Rows are an exercise suitable for all and, performed regularly, will serve to improve the strength and function of elevating and supporting the shoulder complex during day-to-day tasks, whether picking something up, holding a baby, or carrying the shopping.

Relating to exercising the trapezius muscle group, two common questions are “Will I get big traps?” (asked by women) and “Why do people that miss-use steroids develop big traps?”. Simply put, there are more androgen receptors in this area. The main source of androgens in the body is the testes, therefore, significant development of the trapezius is a male characteristic. The further introduction of a synthetic male hormone, steroid use, can lead to disproportionate development in the trapezius muscle group and, to a slightly lesser extent, the deltoids (shoulders).

The above subject/s, exercise examples, and further questions, are all addressed in the video below: 

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