Kettlebell Upright Row

Brent Mccoy
• Tuesday, 29 December, 2020
• 5 min read

If there is one exercise that makes me cringe and fear for peoples safety it’s when I see them performing the upright row with a kettle bell. The upright row is performed by holding a kettle bell with both hands by the handle and then pulling it directly upwards to around upper chest height.

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(Source: tone-and-tighten.com)


In principle the exercise appears quite straightforward but it is what is happening to the shoulder and rotator cuff muscles that is cause for concern. In short, the shoulder is placed in a position that it is naturally not designed to be in and through repetition starts to aggravate the soft tissue.

Many people can perform the upright row without feeling any pain at first but over time shoulder issues will start to present themselves. As a personal trainer and kettle bell instructor one of the common problems I get presented with is an over activation of the upper back or trapezium muscles.

Due to most peoples daily routine of sitting in front of computers, mobile phones, or TV’s, bad posture is more common than ever. One of the easiest ways to further exacerbate upper back and neck issues is by performing the kettlebelluprightrow.

The kettle bell is an incredible workout tool that can produce some truly great results quickly and efficiently. The reason that many people perform the kettlebelluprightrow is to develop the upper back and shoulder muscles.

However, as I’ve mentioned above over activation of the upper Trapezium muscles can lead to serious postural issues and pulling a weight while your arms are internally rotated can damage your shoulders. First you should work on your shoulder stabilization with exercises including the Turkish Get Up, Overhead Holds and Windmills.

kettlebell pull row upright exercise deadlift sumo workout pulls fitness shoulder perform glutes woman snatch body routine into preview requisites
(Source: www.regularityfitness.com)

Then second progress to more prime mover shoulder based exercises including the clean and overhead press. One final point to bear in mind is how the kettlebelluprightrow has no real impact on your daily life activities.

Using exercises that have a natural carry over into daily life are generally safer and utilize your full body. Not only is the farmers carry practical but it’s also an excellent exercise to develop the shoulders and trapezium muscles in a way that is better for counteracting bad posture.

The farmers carry pulls the trapezium muscles down rather than elevating them which is what happens when sat at a desk all day. You can choose much more effective kettle bell exercises for both the shoulders and upper back that are both safe and will help prevent further postural issues.

If losing weight is one of your goals then there are also more effective exercises that you can choose that activate more muscles and burn more calories without the risks. The upright row is a controversial exercise due to the amount of strain that can be placed on the shoulder joints and the rotator cuff.

Doing this exercise with a kettle bell allows for a more naturally oriented grip and places less strain on the shoulder joint overall. Scoot your butt back as if you’re going to sit on a stool, and grasp the handle with an overhand grip.

upright row exercise kettle bell workout week dumbell
(Source: blog.healthadvocate.com)

Raise the elbows higher than the handle of the kettle bell to squeeze the upper back and shoulders. Lower the bell with control, back to the starting position and repeat for repetitions, or a set duration.

If you keep the shoulders firmly pulled back into their sockets, you will prohibit arching of the spine. In the full upright position, make sure that your glutes are squeezed and your abdominal are engaged as if you are bracing for a punch.

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Muscle strength & growth: Due to its targeted pulling motion, a large group of major upper body muscles are targeted during the kettle bell upright row. As a result, performing this exercise regularly is likely to accelerate your muscle growth and strength in your back, biceps, and shoulders.

Stability & conditioning: The kettle bell upright row activates all major areas of the shoulders, making it excellent for upper body stability and conditioning. By doing frequent upright rows, you will improve your posture while protecting yourself from injury.

row kettlebell upright
(Source: www.youtube.com)

The shoulders: Working on the deltoid, rhomboids, and trapezium muscles, the upright row is perfect for building strength, muscle, and stability in the shoulder and upper back region. Rhomboids: Upper back muscles that connect the shoulder blades and offer a great deal of support, working on your rhomboids will improve your posture.

Biceps: As major arm muscles (also known as ‘guns’), building your biceps will significantly enhance your upper body strength as well as general upper body resilience. The kettlebelluprightrow motion looks simple enough, but getting it wrong could result in disaster (injury) or at the very least, waste valuable workout time.

Stand with a straight back, making sure your shoulders aren’t rolled forward, and flex your knees slightly. The activation: Standing In the starting position, making sure that you’re clasping the kettle by the handle with both hands, flex your elbows slightly.

The reverse: Once you’ve reached chin height, hold the kettle bell in position for a moment before slowly reversing the move, dropping the weight back down to arm’s length. Try a lighter kettle bell at first and gradually increase the weight as your form improves and your confidence grows.

To get the very most from your kettle bell workouts and add to your upright rowing efforts, here are three other exercises you should try: I’m going to approach the bell, find my hip hinge, pull to standing.

kettlebell squat sumo pull exercises exercise row upright kettle bell arms kettlebells pile stronger runners training run help running workout
(Source: www.runnersworld.co.za)

I’m keeping this nice and strict, so my lower body is not helping in any way. Strategically Digital Marketing Ltd Trading as Original Kettle bell.

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1 - /rebates/welcome
2 buckeyefitness.com - https://buckeyefitness.com/troy-vtx-10-100-lb-kettlebell-set-with-rack/
3 healthahoy.com - https://healthahoy.com/best-exercise-equipment/adjustable-kettlebells