Upright Rows: Widen Your Grip For Bigger Delts

Upright rows are a very popular and effective multijoint exercise for the shoulders, but what happens when you take a wider grip on the bar?
upright rows widen grip

One of the most common multijoint exercises for the shoulders is the upright row, a compound movement that targets all three delt heads with emphasis on the front and middle heads.

You want to include multijoint exercises in your routine for shoulder day because you can move more weight and ignite more muscle fibers along the way. To that end the upright row is a phenomenal choice for serious delt work. We call it a multijoint exercise because as you pull the bar up your body, both the elbow and shoulder joints are performing the action. The closer you keep the bar to your torso, the more effective (and safer) the exercise becomes. Try to keep your elbows above your hands as you reach the peak contraction (top position).

Make This Change

Probably the most common grip guys take on the bar during upright rows is fairly narrow. However, spreading your hands out wide across the bar has serious benefits. A wider grip will automatically recruit and innervate all three delt heads (with emphasis on the front and middle heads) with higher precision, intensity and effectiveness.

To prove it, right now try bringing your hands up in a narrow fashion without a bar. Notice where your elbows are?

They’re moving both out and forward. Okay, now move your hands out as if you were taking a wider grip. Notice where your elbows go? They go out to your sides, allowing better recruitment of the middle delt, the delt head most responsible for the V-taper. Furthermore, by widening your grip on the bar, you alleviate the strain on the shoulder joint, freeing up the rotators to assist the bigger delt muscles. Lastly, though you may not feel the stress, as you increase the weight during upright rows, a narrow grip has a greater chance of causing impingement problems.

Get The Benefits From Both

Both versions have their positive points, so be sure to try both. When you’re using light weight, you can stick with the narrow grip. In fact, the narrow grip actually recruits more traps on each rep, so this version serves as an excellent warm-up for the entire shoulder girdle. Remember, though, as you increase the weight, move your hands out wide to protect your shoulder joints and to recruit and utilize more muscle fibers.