Banded Upright Rows: The Best Variation To Save Your Joints

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Banded Upright Rows

Banded upright rows are a variation to develop the upper back and shoulders.

Often, doing the upright row with dumbbells or barbells becomes taxing on joints.

Using the resistance band upright row is a great way to reduce the negatives while still reaping the benefits.

This exercise also works well for strength athletes to increase explosive energy output due to the pulling force of the bands.

Banded Upright Rows: Basics

The nice thing about doing an upright row with bands is that they are inexpensive, lightweight, and can be done anywhere.

There are two types of bands that are the most common for this exercise, loop, and handle bands.

One is not better than the other, it comes down to preference and availability.

Another benefit of using bands is the fact that they come in a variety of resistance levels.

Making progressive overload achievable, allowing for consistent strength and muscle improvement.

How To Do Banded Upright Rows

  1. Stand on a band with both feet inline
    • Stand in the center to keep equal resistance on each side
  2. Grab one end of the band in each arm
  3. Stand straight up, facing forward
  4. Begin pulling the band up, towards your chin/face
    • Hold your arms at about shoulder-width apart
  5. Squeeze at the top
  6. Lower the band back to the starting position in a controlled manner
Video Demonstration

Advice To Help With Execution

  • Keep your elbows above your hands in this movement
  • Retract your shoulder blades
  • Engage your core
  • Breath in on the eccentric, breath out on the concentric
  • Pull the band high enough to engage the target muscles
    • Pulling the band to about chin height is generally high enough

Example Set and Rep Ranges:

  • 4×8-12
    • Try it for an upper back and shoulder workout
    • Slow and controlled reps
  • 2×10
    • Good warmup for the shoulders and upper back before performing main exercises
    • Faster pace reps

Resistance Band Upright Row: Muscles Involved

Generally, with this exercise, the main muscles targeted are the shoulders and upper back.

Below is a more specific list of what body parts this movement works directly and indirectly.

Primary Muscles:

  • Shoulders
    • Rear Deltoids
    • Side Deltoids
    • Front Deltoids
  • Upper Back
    • Traps
    • Rhomboids

Secondary Muscles:

  • Biceps

Give this banded variation of the upright row a try to strengthen your traps and grow bigger shoulders!

Eric De Cremer
Eric De Cremer

Eric is an NCCA-accredited Certified Personal Trainer and competitively trained powerlifter. Feel free to contact him anytime at!