How To Do Kettlebell Upright Row Properly

If you have been looking for a great upper body workout to no avail then look no further because we will be covering the kettlebell upright row; a fantastic upper body exercise.

Apart from being one of the most popular upper body pulling moves around, the kettlebell upright row is great for your shoulders, biceps and traps(neck).

However, this is one of those exercises that needs you to do it in perfect form if you want results. Want to get into it? Here is everything you need to know to get you started:

  • Requirements: Kettlebell.
  • Approach the bell and stand with the bell directly below your midplane. Bend at your hips and grip the bell with both hands and push your feet into the ground to get back to a standing position. This is the starting position.
  • Keep your core tight and glutes squeezed. Your feet should be screwed to the ground. From there, drive your arm ups by bending and pushing your elbows upwards till your wrists are touching the chin.
  • Gradually lower the bell back down just at the base of your stomach and be sure to lead with your elbows.
  • Repeat the cycle for reps. Do as many as will comfortably make your muscles hit failure.

Be sure to inhale when bringing the bell down and exhale when bringing it up. You can click here for a video tutorial.


There is no doubt that the kettlebell upright row is a true upper body powerhouse. It targets the most integral muscle groups in the body including; the shoulders, biceps, traps and rhomboids.


The shoulders are made up of 8 muscles, the largest of which is the deltoid. These muscles are used in a wide range of motion such as twisting and rotation of the arm.

Given their position in the arm, they bear the most load in the arm.


You might know these as the ‘guns’. They are located on the front of the upper arm and are probably the most noticeable sign of strength in the body.

Not only do well developed guns appeal aesthetically, but they also enhance upper body resilience.


The trapezius muscle starts at the base of your neck, extends to the middle of your back and goes across your shoulders.

They help you move your head, neck, arms, torso and shoulders as well as stabilize your spine for better posture.


These are upper back muscles that connect the shoulder blades and play a huge role in support. Working on these will improve your posture significantly.



Here are the main body nourishing benefits you will get to enjoy once you incorporate kettlebell upright rows into your workout routine:


The kettlebell upright row activates major areas in the upper body making it fantastic for stability and posture. The very fact that it hits the traps means it will have you looking more confident than usual in no time.


Say goodbye to chicken arms and hello to big guns a few months after picking this exercise up. The kettlebell upright row is great for the biceps which makes it a powerful exercise to increase arm power.


All you need is a simple kettlebell and your good to go.



The dumbbell lateral raise is an excellent alternative to the kettlebell upright row as it primarily targets the deltoids which are the largest muscles in the shoulder. Here is how you do it;

  • Requirements: 2 dumbbells.
  • Stand with 2 dumbbells passively hanging on both arms at your sides. Have your core tight.
  • Take a deep breath and slowly lift the dumbbells up directly out to your sides. Make sure your arms remain straight as you lift them.
  • Lift them until the dumbbells are slightly higher than shoulder-height.
  • Gradually lower the dumbbells back to your sides. Repeat the cycle for reps. As for reps, 5-10 reps should be sufficient to fire up your shoulders and traps.

A common mistake with the dumbbell lateral raise is using momentum to propel the bells up. This almost entirely removes the isolation purpose of this exercise thus hurting your gains.

Also, if you feel that you are using your legs and/or back to propel the dumbbells up then it is a sign that you need to reduce the weight you are using or reduce the number of reps you are doing. Remember, quality over quantity.


Band lateral raises are a great alternative to the kettlebell upright row as it isolates the lateral deltoids.

Here you will be primarily working your delts and traps by lifting against a resistance band as it is anchored to the floor. More on how it is done below;

  • Requirements: Resistance band
  • While holding the band in your left fist, step on the band with your right foot. Have your left foot back to have a wide stance.
  • Start with your fist near your left thigh with the arm outstretched towards the ground. Tighten your core and raise your fist directly out to the side.
  • Stop raising the arm once you reach shoulder height then gradually lower your arm with control. Repeat for reps. Do the same for the other side.

None of these alternatives suit your fancy? Not to worry, you can find more alternatives here.



Try a lighter kettlebell before moving on to heavier ones to avoid unnecessary injuries in the wrists and shoulders due to an overload.

This concept holds for a lot of exercise but it is especially true for the kettlebell upright row since it can cause significantly more injury is you overload yourself when getting into the exercise.


Slouching your shoulders will make the exercise ineffective and could even lead to unnecessary joint injury overtime.


Do not use momentum to raise the kettlebell as this reduces the effectiveness of the exercise and you also risk hurting yourself in the process. Instead, use gradual and controlled strength to pull the kettlebell up to your chin.


There is no doubt that the kettlebell upright row is a true upper body powerhouse. It can get you thick shoulders and beefy guns faster than most exercises can.

It just requires you to pay extra attention to detail in your form to reap your benefits. A small price to pay if you ask me. Enough talk. Grab your kettlebell and grind your way to the upper body you deserve.

You got this!