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As far as shoulder exercises go, if you do the barbell upright row with a close-grip (inside shoulder-width), it places a lot of the focus on the front delts and upper traps, since this hand position keeps your elbows in front of your body as you lift the bar (which targets the front delts) and allows you to end with your elbows much higher than shoulder height (which targets the upper traps).
That’s why I recommend gripping the bar out of shoulder width on upright rows; this allows the elbows to flare out to the sides more to hit the real meat of the shoulders: the middle deltoids. It also limits you from bringing your elbows much higher than shoulder height, thus limiting the involvement of the upper traps. Yet when many guys do wide-grip upright rows, it feels awkward and painful in the shoulder joint. To avoid this, I recommend doing one-arm upright rows in a Smith machine.
This movement places the majority of the focus on the middle head of the deltoid and minimizes pain and injury risk in the shoulder. Another benefit of this exercise is that because you’re only using one arm you can isolate each deltoid to promote balanced development.
Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Dumbbell Shoulder Press 4 8-10 2-3 min
One-Arm Smith Machine Upright Row 4* 10-12 1-2 min
Cable Lateral Raise 3 12-15 1-2 min
Dumbbell Bent-Over Lateral Raise 3 12-15 1-2 min
*Switch from arm to arm without resting until four sets per side are completed.
To see the one-arm Smith machine upright row in action, watch Stoppani’s video training series M&F Raw! – One-Arm Bandit