Exercise Profile
  • Target Muscle Group
  • Exercise TypeStrength
  • Equipment RequiredCable
  • MechanicsCompound
  • Force TypePull (Bilateral)
  • Experience LevelBeginner
  • Secondary Muscles
    Biceps, Traps, Upper Back
Target Muscle Group


Shoulders Muscle Anatomy Diagram

Cable Upright Row Overview

The cable upright row is a variation of the upright row and an exercise used to build the muscles of the shoulders and traps.

Utilizing the cable pulley machine is useful in that it provides constant tension on the target muscle group as you move the weight through the range of motion.

Some people prefer to avoid the upright row as it can cause some degree of shoulder impingement and shoulder discomfort. Experiment for yourself to see if this is a movement that you should personally avoid.

Cable Upright Row Instructions

  1. Position a cable at the lowest position possible and attach a straight bar.
  2. Reach down and grab the handle with a pronated grip and stand up with the arms straight.
  3. Take a deep breath then pull the handle high directly up the front of your body by driving your elbows high.
  4. Slowly lower the handle back to the starting position under control.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Cable Upright Row Tips

  1. If the straight bar version of this exercise bothers your wrists or shoulders, consider using a rope attachment as this can help to decrease excessive stress.
  2. Keep the elbows high but don’t allow the upper arm to go past parallel as this may increase the risk of impingement.
  3. If you experience pain in the shoulders during the movement than it may require a slight squeeze of the traps to elevate the shoulders and open up some of the subacromial space.
  4. Don’t allow your back to arch as you pull the cable up, don’t allow excess weight to dictate your body mechanics.
  5. Extra momentum used during the movement can potentially shift the load to other compensatory muscles so try to limit excessive movement if possible.
  6. As you drive the elbows high, ensure the head doesn’t jut forward.