The vertical row is an effectively efficient exercise that focuses on your side deltoids and trapezius muscles as its main movers.
When it comes to upper body training, a great chest and a set of full vascular biceps are goals worth mentioning. However, it is the elusive V-tapper physique that most people are actually searching for.
With wide and full shoulders and a narrow waist, it’s this physique that gets to turn heads. In pursuit of this, you try out every overhead press variation but the V shape is still far from getting noticed.
This is where the vertical row or upright row comes in. This is an effectively efficient exercise that focuses on your side deltoids and trapezius muscles as its main movers.
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This is not all. As it is a compound exercise, there is the benefit of this exercise hitting more than one muscle simultaneously, thus your delts, rhomboids and teres minor muscles act as synergists.
Eager to know more about this amazing exercise, let’s get into the gist of how to perform it using the right form, its benefits, alternatives and common mistakes to avoid for maximum efficiency.
HOW TO DO VERTICAL ROW PROPERLY
For this exercise, you will need the barbel or alternatively, a kettlebell or a pair of dumbbells.
Below is a step-by-step guide on how to perform this exercise.
While preparing for the vertical row, start by standing with your feet at shoulder-width apart. Proceed to grasp the barbell and allow it to hang at the full length of your arms.
Aim to have your palms facing your body and your hands in line with your thighs.
Breathe in and brace your abdominals and maintain a straight back, upright chest and eyes focused forward.
Lift the barbell straight up towards your chin while you exhale. To do this well, lead with your elbows and keep the bar close to your body.
Additionally, be keen to avoid your hands going any higher than parallel with your shoulders.
Pause for a count or two at the top position.
As you inhale, lower the barbell slowly and return it back to the starting position. This is one rep. Continue rowing for the desired number of reps.
VERTICAL ROW TIPS TO CONSIDER
If you are not sure about performing this exercise in the right form, it is advisable that you don’t perform it at all. Instead, look for other alternatives to work your shoulder muscles.
Additionally, you are advised to be careful not to injure your shoulder muscles while performing the vertical row exercise.
If you have a pre-existing back condition, contact your doctor first before embarking on this exercise to see if you can modify it to suit your condition.
Also, you are advised to first start light on the barbell and advance gradually. Even so, do not go for all heavy weights as this could injure your delicate shoulder muscles.
When choosing a barbell, go for the wavy EZ curl bar as this will make it easier for rowing.
VERTICAL ROW COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID
Avoid the following common mistakes if you want to reap the maximum benefits of this exercise.
DO NOT POSITION YOUR HANDS TOO CLOSE TOGETHER
Avoid placing your hands on the bar too close together as this can increase your ulna deviation.
This deviation can easily lead to wrist injuries and can simply be corrected by moving your hands slightly wider to make a more comfortable lifting.
DON’T LIFT TOO MUCH WEIGHT
Avoid lifting too heavy as this will lead to momentum in the movements. This will eventually take the focus away from the target muscle and recruit other muscles instead.
Even worse, ego lifting will place too much stress on your shoulders and cause injuries in them.
To correct this, go for a barbell that will allow for slow, controlled movements.
DO NOT PULL THE BAR TOO HIGH
Pulling the bar too high can lead to increased compression of the acromioclavicular joint which can eventually lead to an impingement injury at the shoulders.
To correct this, control the movement and limit your elbows to reach the same height as your shoulder. Additionally, while at this, ensure you are not exerting too much pressure on your shoulders.
DO NOT ARCH YOUR BACK
Always purpose to brace your core and an upright back throughout this exercise as this will protect your spine not only in this type of rowing but also in all lifting exercises.
To be specific, when it comes to vertical row, this will serve to prevent you from swinging the weight away from your centre of mass.
DO NOT ROLL YOUR SHOULDERS FORWARD
When lowering the weight back to its initial original position, ensure you maintain a scapular retraction. This is where your chest is proud and shoulders are pulled back or together.
Retracting your scapulae will put your shoulders at a better position for the next pull strength-wise and will help to focus the exercise on your deltoids.
VERTICAL ROW MUSCLES WORKED
These muscles will help with shoulder adduction as well as scapular retraction during this exercise.
Additionally, they also work in order to control the position of your arms and shoulder joints.
Also known as the lats, these muscles will get worked as they help in lifting your arms upwards and are also essential in keeping your back stable throughout the vertical row.
These muscles serve to rotate your arms and lifting them upwards, which is an essential movement in the vertical row exercise.
Although these muscles will not get a direct hit, they also play a role in the vertical row movements.
VERTICAL ROW BENEFITS
As an effective strength training, the vertical row will increase your ability to pull and also increase efficiency in other exercises such as deadlifting.
The shoulder recruitment involved in this exercise will also help in pushing movements such as in military presses.
Since it hits the biceps, it can help to increase arm strength and size and other pulling exercises that uses the biceps such as pull-ups.
This this is an upper body exercise; it helps in improving the general body posture.
VERTICAL ROW ALTERNATIVES
DUMBBELL SCAPTION RAISE
This alternative will work your shoulders without putting so much stress on them. This is because the main weights used are dumbbells.
BANDED DUMBBELL LATERAL RAISE
As suggested by the name, this alternative used both dumbbells and a resistance band as its weight. It is similar to the lateral raise except there is use of dumbbells. It is a more challenging exercise compared to the dumbbell scaption raise.
If you find that the vertical row aggravates your shoulders, feel free to try out its different alternatives to work the same muscles in different ways.