How to do Upright Cable Row | Exercise Videos & Guides

When it comes to upper body training the goals are a big chest and a set of full vascular biceps. However, people are going for that elusive...

How to do Upright Cable Row | Exercise Videos & Guides

When it comes to upper body training the goals are a big chest and a set of full vascular biceps. However, people are going for that elusive and wide V shoulders with a narrow waist as this gets more attention than ever.

You may have tried all the workout or movements possible but nothing seems to get you that upper body you've been aiming for.

Now, we're going to show you the Upright Cable Row. A seriously effective workout or move that targets your lateral deltoids and trapezius muscles. Thus, you'll touch the majority of your shoulder and upper back muscles with one underutilized compound movement.

Here's our guide for the Upright Cable Row

What is Upright Cable Row?

Cable Upright Row is a form of the upright row. This is an exercise used to build the muscles of the shoulders and traps.

The Cable Upright Row is focused on the deltoids or the shoulder muscles which consists of three heads. These three heads contribute to the appearance of making you look wider and more muscular.

The three head includes posterior deltoids, lateral deltoids, and anterior deltoids. This workout is an effective exercise fo your lateral and your trapezius muscles get stimulated as well.

Utilizing the cable pulley machine is useful in providing constant tension on the target muscle group (lateral deltoids). However, we do encourage you to experiment with this workout for yourself first to see if this is an exercise you should do or avoid. This is because the upright row can cause some degree of shoulder impingement and shoulder discomfort.

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Benefits of an Upright Cable Row

Muscle growth and strength

The Upright Cable Row is a great movement to increase the size and strength of your shoulder muscles especially your lateral deltoid. When done right, you'll notice your traps and shoulders feeling burnt of the work and this will be the main goal.

Bigger Traps

Bigger traps are a physical feature that many strength, power and fitness athletes aim for. It also needed stronger deadlifts, squats, and pressing.

Better Cleans and Snatches

When looking to increase your ability of a great clean and snatch, factors can come into play. Upright Cable Row help with the pull portion of both snatch and clean because shoulder mobility is important for effectively getting weight above the head.


Upright Cable Row Details

Main Target Muscle GroupLateral DeltoidSecondary Target Muscle GroupBiceps, Traps, Upper BackTypeStrengthMechanicsCompoundEquipmentCablesDifficultyIntermediate/AdvancedForce TypePull (Bilateral)


How to do Upright Cable Row

  1. Position a cable at the lowest position possible and attach a straight bar.
  1. Reach down and grab the handle with a pronated grip and stand up with the arms straight.
  • The bar should be resting on top of your thighs. Your arms should be extended with a slight bend at the elbows and your back should be straight. This will be your starting position.
  1. Take a deep breath then pull the handle high directly up the front of your body by driving your elbows high.
  • Use your side shoulders to lift the cable bar as you exhale. The bar should be close to the body as you move it up. Continue to lift it until it nearly touches your chin.
  • Your elbows should drive the motion. As you lift the bar, your elbows should always be higher than your forearms. Also, keep your torso stationary and pause for a second at the top of the movement.
  1. Lower the bar back down slowly to the starting position.
  1. Inhale as you perform this portion of the movement.
  1. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

Cable Upright Row Tips

  • If you're not comfortable using the straight bar or it bothers your wrists or shoulders, you can opt rope attachment to decrease excessive stress.
  • Keep the elbows high but don’t allow the upper arm to go past parallel as this may increase the risk of impingement.
  • If you experience pain on your shoulders during the workout it may require a slight squeeze of the traps to elevate the shoulder. This squeeze will open up some of the subacromial space.
  • Don't arch your back as you pull the cable up. Do not allow excess weight to dictate your body mechanics.
  • Try to limit excessive movement if possible. Extra momentum used during the workout can shift the load to other compensatory muscles.
  • As you drive your elbows high, make sure your head won't go forward.
  • Be careful with how much weight you use. Too much weight may lead to bad form and can lead to a shoulder injury.
  • Keep your posture upright with shoulders back and chest up.
  • Make sure to pull with your elbows.

Related workouts:

  • There are 5 other exercises which target the same muscles:
  • Upright Barbell Row
  • One Arm Dumbbell Row
  • Kettlebell Thruster
  • Dumbbell Incline Row
  • Hindu / Judo Push Up / Dive Bombers

Video References:

Upright Row Variations

Here are the upright row variations that you should be aware of to maximize your upper back strength, hypertrophy, and performance.

  • Narrow Upright Row
  • Clean Grip Upright Row
  • Snatch Grip Upright Row
  • Snatch Grip Upright Row
  • Dumbbell Upright Row

Upright Row Alternatives

Here are some upright row alternatives to also maximize upper back strength, hypertrophy, and performance.

  • Snatch/Clean High Pull
  • Muscle Snatch/Clean
  • Face Pull (Cable or Band)


Now that you know how to execute the Upright Cable Row, you can try to do this for 3–4 sets, 10-12 reps. If you’re having trouble with your posture you can get assistance with your fitness buddy, or the fitness instructor at your gym. However, if you’re doing this in your home gym, you can do this in front of the mirror to check your posture.

Just follow these steps correctly and you’ll have that wide shoulders that you’re been wanting to have.

See you at the next session!

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