I have replaced them with shrugs in my new workout, but after reading,

Slideshow: 7 Risky Exercises and Better Bets (Slide 6)


5 Exercises You Must Avoid If You Want To Stay Injury-Free

I am a bit concerned about the impact on my shoulders.

  • 1
    Upright rows are not necessarily "difficult" but too technical and most people just risk wrecking their shoulders doing them. Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 0:51

3 Answers 3


I hadn't previously considered upright row to be dangerous, but I guess if you are using heavy weights and you don't have good technique, impingement could be a consideration.

There are so many option when exercising muscles, it's easy to avoid 1 exercise - you could do Reverse flye, shrugs, bent over row, they will all work the same muscle.

If you are concerned with protecting your shoulders it would be advisable to incorporate some work on your rotary cuff muscles.

These are small muscles that help to stabalise the shoulder and will definitely help to reduce injury risk

  • Shrugs don't work the trapezius, traps can't really lift up the shoulder...this has been proven back in 1992, but still remains as a misconception... think about it, why would the largest muscle in the upper back have such a stupid and useless function? The real function of the traps are to retract the scapula, rotate the scapula and deload the spine when holding weights in your hands.
    – user28458
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 21:30

There are certainly much better exercises you could be doing. I don't waste my time with upright rows nor do I ever get any of my clients to do them.

Bent over rows, deadlifts, dumbbell shoulder presses, etc.

As one of the articles say, instead of upright rows, do dumbbell lateral raises instead - and I'd agree with this. Dumbbell front raises will also be good.

Dumbbell shrugs (keeping the dumbbells by your side) aren't that bad either. It is a good isolation exercise to do and it doesn't put your body into any compromising position that I can imagine.

  • My trainer told me to do them instead of shrugs on my back day, for the traps. Otherwise I follow lateral and front raises on shoulder day. Can't I just leave them out then? Commented Mar 15, 2014 at 10:15
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    Yes upright row and shrugs are for your traps. Lateral raises for shoulders Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 16:35

Yes, upright rows are one of the most dangerous exercises for your shoulders, along with wide grip pull ups, behind the head pulldowns, etc. I would highly recommend not doing them. They can even hurt your shoulders to a point where they suffer from permanent damage, or to where you need surgery. If you want to strengthen your delts and traps, I'd suggest doing shrugs, shoulder presses, side lateral raises, decline flies, and front raises.

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