World’s Most Dangerous Exercises! (UPRIGHT ROWS)


What’s up, guys? Jeff Cavaliere, ATHLEANX.com. We’re headed back to the iron graveyard today. No, not to resurrect, but to throw another
pile of dirt. This time, on top of the upright row exercise. Why? Because it’s a bad exercise. I’m telling you guys, I’m not here to pick
on these. I have no bias from one exercise to the next. As a physical therapist I have to look at
it objectively and tell you why this is no good. I know there are some that say “But there’s
variations that you can do to make it better.” There really aren’t. So what we’re going to do is show you exactly
why that is and get you doing the right things and have an understanding of why you’re doing
the right things in the first place. So when we look at the exercise, the upright
row, let’s go back to the version that we all learned from Arnold and the classic bodybuilders. They grabbed the barbell, generally they were
about shoulder width, or a little bit narrower on the bar, and they literally lift it up. Up, up, up, up, up, until their bar was in
front of their face, and their elbows were up near their ears. So it looked like that. That’s how we all learned it. Then people came out and said “Maybe this
is not a good exercise,” because it didn’t feel really good for some people. Then they said “No, all you have to do” – they
said even me, Jeff – “What you need to do is you need to just take it a lot shallower. Don’t bring it up so high. Take it to here, to chest height until your
elbows are at your shoulder height.” The problem is you’re not really changing
any of the mechanics of the exercise. You’re limiting the degree to which you’re
moving through them, but you’re not changing them at all. So why is that? What’s the problem? When you look at the upright row the problem
is elevation of the shoulder – meaning lifting this up, overhead – with internal rotation
of the shoulder. So the internal rotation component is this. Let me get a little bit closer here. When your arm is elevated, when you do this
you internally rotate. When you do this you externally rotate, okay? Internal rotation, external rotating. By virtue of having a bar that cannot pass
through my body that must stay in front of me, by having weight on that bar I’m holding
the bar and it’s internally rotating my shoulder just as is. So right off the bat we’re getting internal
rotation. Now your goal is to lift the bar. So you’ve got elevation with internal rotation. That is a bad combination. I said before in another video, when we test
somebody for impingement and try to see if they have it we take their arm, put it like
this, we internally rotate it, and we lift it up. And they go “OH! That’s hurts!” It should because you’re creating impingement. That is exactly the position that’s being
created by this exercise. So what can you do? You can’t just use and easy bar. People say “Jeff, use an easy bar.” What is that doing? What that does is you’re taking your hands
and instead of being fixed on a bar this way, you’re now tilting your hands up a little
bit, okay? You’re supinating a little bit, but you’re
still – by virtue of having a bar – having to keep it in front of your body, you’re still
elevating, and because the weight’s in front of you, you’re still getting internal rotation
here at the arms. You would need to have something that allowed
you to be able to get behind the body so we couldn’t stay in internal rotation, but external
rotation. So we talk about having the option of doing
a dumbbell high pull. So with a dumbbell high pull I can do the
exercise where I’m pulling up, but I’m externally rotating the arm along the way, as I elevate
it. So coming back that way. Here, coming back that way. So at the top I’m externally rotated and the
arm is behind my body because the dumbbell allows me to get back there. That is a much different exercise. Here we’re still getting the activation of
the delts and those that say it works the traps too, you’re getting the traps. I think there are far better trap exercises
anyway, but the fact is that the dumbbells allow us to externally rotate completely,
100% opposite than any barbell version will allow you to do at the shoulder. I’ll show you one more thing here on our skeleton,
to why this is actually the case. So if you look at it anatomically what you
have is, when your arm sits in the socket like this, you have this big bump on the outside
of your bone here. He lets me dislocate it for the purpose of
education. You see this big bump here? This bump is what’s causing the lack of space
when you internally rotate. Anatomically we all have this bump on the
outside of our bone here. So when I go to elevate, and bring this up,
if I internally rotate like this – like this – you see this bump? It’s not squarely right in the middle of that
joint. There is now less space because this is occupying
more space inside this joint when I lift it up into that internal rotation. So now, anything that runs under here – underneath
the acromion here, this bone, including the rotator cuff tendons, including the bursae
in your shoulder, including your bicep tendon inside the joint here – anything that’s
inside this joint can get pinched. And over time – I talked about it in the
past, that these shoulder injuries are not like “Oh, my God! I feel it.” And it’s done. It’s over time wearing and tearing, wearing
and tearing. It’s like a rope that gets frayed over and
over, and over again. Ultimately it winds up giving out. So you may not have any pain right now, but
you will over time if you continue to do the exercise and you don’t mix it up with better
alternatives. The second thing that could help you – while
you might be one of the ones that says “Look, I don’t really have that much pain when
I do it”, or “I don’t have any pain when I do this exercise”, the acromion type that
you have could matter. There’s an acromion that sits up nice and
high like this that leaves a lot of room under here like that. Then there’s acromions that start to hook
down a little bit more, and a little bit lower, which leaves less room in here. But again, you could do something as simple
as train your biceps the day before and then go do an upright row and be in much worse
shape with the exercise because of the fact that the bicep tendon that had blood flow
to the sheath around it, when you trained it, it’s now still a little inflamed, creating
less space inside this joint. So now with the internal rotation you go and
start creating problems. So it doesn’t always have to be in the form
of a shoulder injury. It could be in the form of a bicep tendon
injury because of the upright row. The bottom line is – okay, Raymond. Thank you. The bottom line is that this exercise belongs
in the iron graveyard with a few extra shovels of dirt on top of it because it’s just not
good. Again, I’m not trying to pick on it. I’m trying to inform you guys and who you
why that’s the case. If you’re finding these videos helpful there
are other exercises that belong here that I’ll cover in more depth. Just let me know below if you want me to do
that for you and I will. In the meantime, if you’re looking for a program
that puts the science back in strength objectively, allows you to train at a higher level by letting
your body function and move the way it should; head to ATHLEANX.com and get our ATHLEANX
training program. In the meantime, I hope you’ve found this
helpful. Again, let me know what you want to see in
other videos and I’ll do my best to cover those topics, too. All right, guys. See you soon.

100 thoughts on “World’s Most Dangerous Exercises! (UPRIGHT ROWS)

  1. Theres a fat old man who comes into my gym a couple times a week and JUST DOES UPRIGHT ROWS. Yes i wish i was joking. He comes in and ONLY does upright rows with heavy weight and then leaves

  2. Yeah, no wonder the Crossfit Sumo Deadlift High Pull feels so awkward and unnatural – its a crock, and promotes injuries!

  3. "…our skeleton here." He has a name! His name is RAYMOND! SAY MY NAME!!! He figured out his mistake by the end, though. Dodged a bullet, Jeff!

  4. In my gym I see so many people doing Upright Rows and It hurts to watch. I don't know If I even can tell them that they are destroying their shoulders.

  5. LIFTING QUESTION: Would doing a dumbbell highpull clean & press (for each rep) vs. just a dumbbell OHP, develop the deltoid muscles just as much? Not any push press. I would just restrict the weight to what I can strict press.

  6. It’s nothing right or wrong, the weights we perform does matter, very heavy weights are not recommended for this exercise. Bodybuilders, strong men from bronze and silver era made their chiseled physiques with these exercises. Many old time strong men lived a very healthier life although doing these wrong exercises according to the recent ones. Look at John Grimek, Steve Reeves, Alan Stephan, George Hackenschmidt, Arthur Saxon they never had any injury doing these ones. They lived long, healthier lifestyle than today’s bodybuilders who are steroids addicted and protein powders with bubble guts cannot take their guts in, with bottle shape physiques.

  7. Then High Pulls should be in the Iron Graveyard too right? Especially since it is a ballistic movement!

  8. MAte I'm struggling with the High Pulls. I'm doing the Max Size plan of yours and I am not nailing the technique. Can you do a slow multi angle break-down on it here or in the AthX page. I have had shoulder issues (1 rebuilt) and my lower traps are needing to get this right. PLEASE. It's seriously become one of my favorite exercises.

  9. What about doing a much wider grip and lifting it only to lower pecs? That's what Jim Stoppani recommends to do.

  10. So what about doing a powerclean? They say this is one of the best of the 5 compound movements in order to build muscle and become stronger.

  11. What about doing it with dumbbels and arms along the body ? no internal rotation here, and traps work hard too. (However you cannot raise it as high.)

  12. Jeff, why are their 100s of other people(who all look fantastic, just like yourself) who say and show that they do the upright rows? It gets exhausting combing the internet for proper opinions only to find that plenty of ripped folks say to do these, and then a number of other ripped people say not to do them. The heck are we sposed to do?? Cause I see people(who clearly by looking at them, know what they are doing) having no shoulder issues ever, and they do these all the time, then other great looking people like yourself say it's so, so bad. It's frustrating bro

  13. OK, looks like I have to cut this one from my workout, anyone know a good substitute for the shoulders? (minus lateral raises and seated dumbbell presses, they are already part of my workout.)

  14. So you say ' no more upright rows' 😳😢 I alway's loved the exercise-I thought it nicely shaped my arms and the back underneed my neck. But then I do face pulls instead – it also targets the part of my problem. I think maybe even better🤔😊🙏

  15. Question. If you perform this with dumbbells, as you would a barbell, but bring the inside of the hands up. rotating towards your chin, stopping just below it… would that work to fix the issue as well? You're basically rotating your arm up as if you're going to flex your biceps, but you just stop at the chin. That would be in the beginning stage of the external rotation, would it not?

  16. I found if you do the upright rows on a smith machine and lean backwards as you raise the bar, no shoulder impingement…

  17. I was a power lifter. I completely agree. I screwed up both my shoulders and my elbows with this piece of crap exercise. Good riddance.

  18. I'm starting a basic bodybuilding program next week that includes upright rows 2x a week. Now I'm going to use dumbbells instead of the bar. Thank you.

  19. Some exercises just feel wrong in your body. If you don’t feel like you should do an exercise with heavy weight then don’t! I sometimes let myself feel bad for not working a heavy deadlift or bench press, but I remind myself that’s not necessarily my goals right now….

  20. I was 17 and quit this stupid exercise, i have been always thinking about my bones, joints, and muscles how are they acting to the movement and felt it then concluded that this is one of the worst things i'm doing despite it's results weren't so satisfying for me.

  21. I had a dislocated shoulder last year. This was one of the exercises I used to do this exercise.
    And yes: it happens overtime. I felt an increasing discomfort as I kept training.
    I'm not saying this is the only culprit, but it definitely could have contributed highly to my shoulder weakening.

  22. I'm in my mid 40's…did so many bad excercises!!
    You young bucks are so fortunate to have the interwebs

  23. The dumbell high pull is an awesome replacement. It also allows you to continue the exerccise through the burn for a lot longer cause there are no other discomforts to deter you.

  24. My football coaches always have us doing this in the weight room however every time I did it, it just didn’t feel right. And overtime the more we did it the more pain I felt in my shoulders. After discovering this video I will refuse to do this dumb ass exercise. I always insisted that this exercise wasn’t right and this video confirms it.

  25. Omgggg. In none of your videos you ever say that every body is different and every person is different. Get a life jeff

  26. I'd like to know if the Kettlebell High Pulls can be done in this same way as in 3:37; I've seen a lot of KB High Pull videos and they keep lifting the elbow up above the wrist

  27. Dear Jeff please make a seperate video about the proper positions of the wrist in general to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome

  28. This is the exercise that fkd me up aged 18, never got treated…

    …I'm 42, weigh 71.5kg, and need professional treatment for all the damage the upright row did down my rightside: neck to toe.

    It's likely my succeeding injuries came from an impingement in the right trap.

    Kids need taught all about their bodies and its mechanics from an early age, including how nutrition affects its performance.

  29. Hold press the tips of your thumb together for correct spacing. Then hold the bar with it starting at the palm knuckle pad on the index finger to the middle of the base of your hand over the carpal cannel. Done it for years no pain.

  30. I'm 69 been using the easy bar for light weight upright rowing since a kid, so far no problems. Got my first weights from Ben and Joe Weider in Montréal and their trainer Jimmy Caruso went to school with my father. He gave me good advice years ago. My problem is I want to train for pulling my crossbow which is an upright rowing motion. I'll stick to my rowing machine and front/side lifts from now on.

  31. If possible could you email me at [email protected] I’m trying to get back in shape and get a body like yours. So I have some questions about routines and exercises I can do to get that way. When I looked up exercises to try and reach my goal they said to do the upright row. Wanted to do research before I attempt these exercises and your video was the first to pop up. Finding out how bad this exercise is for my body makes me question all the others. I’d greatly appreciate any advice and recommendations, thank you.

  32. Yep, if you do upright rows with this form you will definitely damage your shoulders. Which is why I do them with natural form – similar to barbell rows except only a very slight tilt forward of my torso and there's no need to bring your elbows higher than your shoulders, bring the bar up to near & below your chest. Hands down the best exercise on shoulders day and I always look forward to it.

  33. I went to a bodypump class and we did a similar excerise which was an upright barbell row but we stopped going upright when hands would reach the bottom of chest. Would you say that is more properly executed exercize compared to what you presented us in this video that is, how not to do it?

  34. I appreciate you taking the time to focus on bad exercises for shoulders. I suffer with impingement in my shoulders all because I didn't know the proper placement for them. Can you do a video on proper shoulder placement for several different exercises on one video.

  35. Just use EZ bar, and don't go higher than your nipples. Its pretty good shoulder builder. Title of the video is a clickbait.

  36. Someone once told me that it's safe if you stop at the nipples which doesn't make sense for a few reasons i won't get into..of course he learned how to work out from his friends so..

  37. I did this for years but most recently it’s begun to aggravate my right wrist and I’m getting residual pain in my right upper arm on the outside . Time to shit can the upright row !!

  38. Yes this just happened to me and this is exactly what I was doing so this video is 100% accurate!!! man I wished I would’ve watch this before I did the upright rows I’m in so much pain !! this video is for real!!!!!

  39. Ive been doing upright rows for 20 years and I've never had a problem , even in my 30s they give me an insane pump in my shoulders and traps….. as long as you start with a lighter weight to warm up there fine …. 8 millions subs or not .. this exercise has and will continue to be one of my favourites

  40. You mention high pulls aren't the best for traps but that is the primary trap exercise during the first four weeks of the Inferno program??

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