Throughout the training arsenal, there are many great “postural” exercises; that is, exercises designed to correct or improve faulty posture. One very common faulty posture is rounded shoulders, which is commonly found in people who sit at computers all day. The musculature of the upper back becomes stretched out and weak, leading to weakness. One great postural exercise to help correct this is the BB Upright Row. When done correctly, this exercise effectively trains the shoulders as well as the lower traps. To perform the exercise:

Grasp a barbell with an overhand grip that is slightly less than shoulder width. The bar should be resting on the top of your thighs with your arms extended and a slight bend in your elbows. Your back should also be straight. This will be your starting position.

Now exhale and use the sides of your shoulders to lift the bar, raising your elbows up and to the side. Keep the bar close to your body as you raise it. Continue to lift the bar until it nearly touches your chin. Your elbows should drive the motion, and should always be higher than your forearms. Remember to keep your torso stationary and pause for a second at the top of the movement. For further activation of the upper back, retract and squeeze the shoulder blades together.

Lower the bar back down slowly to the starting position. Inhale as you perform this portion of the movement.

Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

This exercise can also be performed using a straight bar attached to a low pulley and it can also be performed using dumbbells, though this later exercise should be reserved by people that are well familiarized with correct execution.

This exercise may also be contraindicated for people with past shoulder problems such as impingement. The token rule is this: if it hurts, don’t do it! But for the rest of you, give this one a try, especially if you suffer from faulty posture in your upper back. Consistently stretching the pectorals can help as well. Let me know how it goes!