Smith Machine Upright Row

Smith Machine Upright Row: Muscle Worked, Benefits

The smith machine upright row is a machine exercise that builds stronger and bigger traps, rhomboids and rear deltoids.

No doubt, it is one of the best exercises for building upper back, but it’s also easy to get wrong. Typically, this will just result in you missing out on the muscle-building benefits of the move. Incorrect technique can also place undue pressure on your shoulders and increase your risk of injury.

You shouldn’t be scared out of integrating the smith machine upright row into your routine. There are several ways you’ll need to look out to improve the technique. To perform the smith machine upright row exercises in a safe and effective way, must read this blog.

Muscle Worked In Smith Machine Upright Row Exercise

A real upper body powerhouse, the upright row machine mainly target your Traps and deltoid. Some of the body’s most integral muscle groups, including:

  • Shoulders: Working on the deltoids, rhomboids, and trapezius 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, building your biceps will significantly enhance your upper body strength as well as general upper body resilience.
Muscle Worked In Upright Row Exercise

Benefits of a Smith Machine Upright Row

Here are the benefits of a machine upright row :

  • Muscle strength & growth: Due to its targeted pulling motion, a large group of major upper body muscles are targeted. Performing this exercise regularly is likely to accelerate your muscle growth and strength in your back, biceps, and shoulders.
  • Stability & conditioning: 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 position while protecting yourself from injury.
  • Builds Traps: Traps are tricky to build. There are only a handful of exercises that mainly target your traps. A barbell upright row utilizes your traps just as much as it works your shoulders.
  • Arm power: It will make your arms more powerful, improving your performance in other exercises and activities as a result.
  • Improve your posture. When practiced with proper form, upright row machine exercises help build strength in your upper body stabilizer muscle groups, helping you stand up tall and keep your back straight.

Smith Machine Upright Row

The Smith machine upright row is a variation of the upright row and an exercise used to target the muscles of the shoulders.

The Smith machine provides a fixed movement pattern to better isolate the muscles of the shoulders.

Smith Machine Upright Row
Muscles Involved

Primary: Trapezius, deltoid.

Secondary: Levator scapulae, Brachialis, Brachioradialis, Biceps Brachii, erector spinae, forearms.

Execution Technique
  1. Select the desired weight and load it onto a barbell. Unpack the bar by rotating the safety latches off the j-hooks.
  2. Ensure that the barbell is resting against your thighs, as it’s important to keep the bar close to your body while you perform the exercise.
  3. Inhale, brace your abs, and then lead the movement by driving the elbows high as you pull the bar to chest height.
  4. When the bar has reached its peak, reverse the movement slowly while controlling the bar back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
  • Focus on keeping your elbows higher than your forearms.
  • Avoid using momentum to lift the bar. Instead, focus on deriving power from the upper body.
  • Don’t lean back as you pull the weight up, keep the motion under control, and don’t rely on momentum.
  • If machine upright rows bother your wrists, consider a dumbbell, cable, or banded options as these place less stress on the wrists.
Sets & Reps
  • 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps.

The right and safe way to do Smith machine upright row

  1. Make sure your hands aren’t too close together: Placing your hands too close together can increase the amount of ulnar deviation (how much your wrist must bend to the side). This can result in injury at the wrist, and it can be easily avoided by simply moving your grip width to be slightly wider so that it is more comfortable for you as you lift.
  2. You’re lifting too much weight: If your weight is too heavy, the movement will require momentum. Heavy lifting will take the focus away from the shoulders or, even worse, put too much stress on them.
  3. Don’t pull the bar too high: Pulling the bar too high can increase the likelihood of an impingement injury at the shoulder. Controlling the movement and limiting your elbows to reach the same height as your shoulders ensure you are not exerting your shoulder and potentially causing an injury.
  4. Brace your core and keep your torso upright: As with any lift, maintaining a strong and stable core throughout the lift will aid with bracing and thus protect the spine. When it comes to upright rows, this will also help to reduce or prevent swinging the weight away from your center of mass.
  5. Don’t roll shoulder forward: When lowering the weight, make sure your chest is proud and shoulders pulled back/together (known as scapular retraction).


What is a Smith machine upright row?

A Smith machine upright row is a shoulder exercise that mainly workout the upper trapezius muscles and the lateral head of the deltoids.

Is the Smith machine one arm upright row good for delts?

Yes, the Smith machine one-arm upright row is an excellent deltoid exercise because it enables you to even out your muscles imbalances by training each side of your body independently.

Will doing smith machine wide grip upright rows widen my shoulders?

Yes, absolutely. Performing a Smith machine wide grip upright row is a great way to add mass to your side delts, provided you consume enough calories and high-quality protein.

What’s the most effective Smith machine upright row replacement?

Cable lateral raises and dumbbell upright row are the most effective Smith machine upright row alternative because they provide your side delts with plenty of growth-stimulating time under tension.


A smith machine upright row can strengthen the posterior chain muscles, including the shoulders and upper back. With great attention to form, you’ll reap all the benefits.

Let us know, in the comment section below, your valuable suggestions!

Thanks for reading.

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