Upright row vs shoulder press... which is best? When it comes to your deltoid muscle group, there are few better exercises than the upright row or shoulder press. They are both great shoulder building exercises that activate all three deltoid areas: the anterior, the lateral and the posterior. So which is best? We discuss.


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Upright Row

Man performing the upright row with dumbbells

To perform an upright row, you should stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Grasp your weights in front of you, arms down, palms facing your body. Breathe in and brace your abs, then lift the weight straight up towards your chin, leading with your elbows. Keep the bars close to your body. Pause, and then return to the starting position.

In an upright row, the side and front delts are hit way harder than they are in the shoulder press. This means that the upright row has an edge. It doesn't, however, use the rear delts or the arms as much as the shoulder press does. That means it's great for isolation, but not for compound strength.

The most common issue that people have with the upright row is the room for damage. It's just too easy to get it wrong. When performing an upright row wrong, you could end up with a torn muscle or ligament, or even a severe rotator cuff injury that can have debilitating effects throughout the rest of your life. With that in mind, your technique is everything with the upright row.

Shoulder Press

woman performing the dumbbell missionary press

The shoulder press is the most popular exercise of the two. To perform it correctly, you should stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with your weights held at shoulder height, elbows at 90 degrees. Push the weights up above your head, fully straightening your arms. Pause, and then return to the starting position

First and foremost, this exercise is one of the best compound exercises out there. It is a great upper bodyworker because of the number of different muscles it hits - the front, side and rear deltoids, as well as the upper body.

Another advantage is the different types of equipment you can use for a shoulder press. You can use just about any weight for this move - kettlebells, dumbbells, barbells, cables... and more.

So which is best in the battle of upright row vs shoulder press? Both exercises are incredibly effective and ideally will be performed within the same workout, ensuring that you're working every muscle group. But when it comes down to it, the shoulder press has to be the winner. The compound nature of the exercise means that it hits the entire deltoid group. It's also far safer, as long as the movement remains in front of the body rather than behind the neck. Be careful in your training, as always, and you'll see good results from both of them nonetheless.


general

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If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.