EZ Bar Upright Row: How To and More

EZ Bar Upright Row: How To and More

Are you looking for a killer exercise that can simultaneously work your shoulders and upper back muscles? If yes, the EZ bar upright row might be perfect for you! This compound exercise targets builds strength in multiple muscle groups and improves posture.

In this article, we will dive into how to perform the EZ bar upright row correctly and explore some variations to help you spice up your workouts.

How To Do Upright Rows With The EZ Bar

  • Stand upright, holding an EZ bar shoulder-width apart with an overhand grip.
  • Exhale and drive your elbows upwards to lift the EZ bar.
  • Continue raising the EZ bar until it reaches your lower chest.
  • Lower the EZ bar, returning to the starting position.
  • Repeat as necessary.

Muscles Worked

The EZ bar upright row is a classic exercise that targets various muscles in the upper body. The primary muscle worked in this exercise is the trapezius, responsible for shrugging your shoulders and lifting your arms. The trapezius muscle is divided into the upper, middle, and lower fibers. The EZ bar upright row mainly targets the middle and upper fibers of the trapezius.

Apart from the trapezius, the EZ bar upright row also targets the deltoids, specifically the lateral or middle head. This muscle helps lift the arms out to the side and away from the body. Additionally, the exercise works the biceps and forearm muscles, which are used to grip and control the bar during the movement.

Important Note: The EZ bar upright row is not without controversy. Some fitness experts suggest that the exercise may put excessive stress on the shoulder joints, potentially leading to injury. Some alternatives below are easier on the body and may provide better results.


There are a few great alternatives to EZ Bar upright rows that can offer similar benefits with fewer risks of injury. One great alternative is the dumbbell upright row, which allows for a more natural range of motion and better isolation of the shoulder muscles.

Some other great options include:

  • Dumbbell lateral raises: This exercise targets the lateral deltoids and helps to build shoulder width and definition without the risk of shoulder impingement that can occur with upright rows.
  • Cable lateral raises: This exercise allows for constant shoulder tension and can be performed with various grips, making it a versatile alternative to upright rows.
  • Face pulls: This exercise targets the rear delts, traps, and upper back muscles and helps to improve posture and shoulder stability. It can also be performed with various equipment, including bands and cables.

While the EZ Bar upright row ( or curl bar upright row) can be effective when performed correctly, these alternatives offer similar benefits with fewer risks of injury. Therefore, they are worth considering as part of a well-rounded workout routine.

What’s the Difference: EZ Bar and Straight Bar Upright Row?

The main difference between the EZ bar and the straight bar upright row is the grip and the angle of the movement. The EZ bar has a zigzag shape that allows for a more neutral grip, which can be more comfortable for those with wrist or shoulder issues. On the other hand, the straight bar has a pronated grip, which can stress the wrist and shoulder joints more.

In terms of muscle activation, both bars primarily work the shoulders, specifically the deltoids, and traps, with some activation of the biceps and forearms. However, the angle of the movement with the EZ bar may result in slightly more activation of the deltoid’s lateral head than the straight bar.

Ultimately, the choice between the two depends on individual preference and any pre-existing injuries or limitations.

What Bar is Best For Upright Rows?

The EZ bar and straight bar can be used for upright rows, and the choice ultimately depends on personal preference and comfort. The EZ bar is designed to reduce strain on the wrists and elbows, which can benefit those who experience discomfort during the exercise. On the other hand, the straight bar allows for a wider grip, which may target the shoulders and traps differently.

The EZ Bar Upright Row

There you have it – everything you need to know about EZ bar upright rows. With this exercise, you can target your shoulders, traps, and upper back, but you must use proper form to avoid injury.

And remember to check out our free workout plans on the website to help you achieve your fitness goals. Keep on lifting!

In 2013 I attended TVCC with my studies focusing on nutrition and biology. After leaving TVCC I pursued a career in inbound marketing and have worked in many different industries including health and fitness, firearms, coaching, and many more. I spent 6 years training for powerlifting and 6 years after training for a bodybuilding show in Idaho, which sadly did not come to fruition.

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