Move of the Week: The Upright Row

It’s that time again: our fantastic personal trainer Jana McDermid from our Pickering club teaches you the proper form for an important exercise! To book a session with Jana or any of our other personal trainers, call our Pickering location or fill out our online form.

The Starting Position 

  • Stand with legs at a comfortable distance apart — about shoulder width is about right.
  • Grasp a barbell (shown) or dumbbells, hanging in front of you at arms length, palms facing the body.
  • Standing up straight, adjust your grip so that your hands are about in line with the thighs: that is, not too close together.

The Exercise 

  • Brace the abdominals, keep the back straight and lift the weights straight up then down again in a controlled manner.
  • The arms should go no higher than parallel with the shoulders. Slightly less is OK. Breathe in to start. Breathe out on effort.
  • Try to keep the wrists from excessive movement down or to the side.
  • Don’t squat down and up after the initial pose. No movement of the legs occurs.
  • Do not lift heavy with this exercise unless you are experienced and trust your shoulder joints.


A few common mistakes that some people make in this exercise include leaning back as you pull the bar up, using a grip that’s too wide or too narrow, and rushing the movement. Leaning back as you row can strain your lower back. Using too wide a grip prevents your trapezius from assisting in the movement, but a narrow grip can result in impingement at the shoulder joint. Performing the movement too fast doesn’t allow you to fully recruit as many muscle fibers.

So make sure your grip is good, your back is straight, and you move slowly, and you’re good to go!

If you’d like to work with Jana, or any of our other expert personal trainers or kinesiologistscall your club or fill out our online form and we’ll get you set up asap!