Improve posture, align your shoulders and protect your rotator cuffs with this effective cable exercise.
Face pulls are an underrated movement that targets the shoulders and back. One of the weirder-named exercises at the gym that conjures up images of legendary guys like Jack LaLanne pulling cars and boats with their teeth, the exercise gets its name because it pulls a cable grip to the face, not the neck or upper chest. Here's how and why you can incorporate cable face pulls into your upper body routine.
Face Pull Benefits
Many machine exercises contribute to shoulder instability, overuse, and injury. However, face pulls, when done correctly, do the opposite.
The exercise strengthens all of the stabilizing muscles around the shoulder, improving scapular stability and preventing injury. While most guys spend some time stabilizing their hips and focusing heavily on their abs, they don't put enough effort into their shoulders, which take some beating from everyday life hunched over computers and steering wheels.
Shoulders are also heavily used in the weight room. There's a reason it's called shouldering a burden. Face pulls improve posture, prevent shoulder problems, and even improve your pull-up ability because they develop many of the same muscles used for the king of all bodyweight movements. If you want to build that impressive V-shaped back, the face pull is one of the best moves you can do.
What does Face Pull work?
Face pulls target and develop the shoulders and upper back muscles like the posterior deltoids, middle trapezius, rhomboids, and rotator cuff muscles (like the infraspinatus), which improves scapular stability and strength.
Stabilizing the rotator cuff muscles is critical not only for guys who pound their shoulders in the weight room, but also for baseball pitchers, quarterbacks, and swimmers, who are particularly prone to shoulder strain. Face pulls not only strengthen and stabilize your shoulders and back, which is valuable in and of itself, but this stable upper body leads to bigger lifts, better posture, and overall musculoskeletal health.
How to make facial features
- On the cable system, use the cable attachment and adjust the weight to an appropriate setting. te: Use light weight until you master proper form. Getting too heavy will likely change the dynamic and make this more of a back exercise.
- Stand in front of the cable machine in an athletic stance, feet shoulder-width apart and your body tilted back about 20 degrees.
- Grasp the rope with both hands, then step back so the stack of weight plates rises.
- Keep your back straight and knees slightly bent. Begin the movement by inhaling and squeezing your shoulder blades together as if trying to bring them toward your back pockets.
- Bring the cable to your face at eye level - not to your chin or neck, where it becomes more of a bicep movement.
- At the end of the movement, your upper arms and forearms should form a 90-degree angle.
- Pause and slowly return to the starting position as you exhale.
How to add a face pull to a workout
As an upper body pulling exercise, face pulls pair well with most workouts that tend to be heavy on upper body pushing movements. Adding a pull between presses allows you to move non-stop during a circuit routine.
A face pull, performed with little or no weight, is an effective warm-up move no matter your routine, especially if your end-of-day workout occurs after sitting at a desk or driving. Facial features will reset your posture, align your shoulders and put you in a better position for a good workout that doesn't damage the shoulders.
Face Pull Variations
Face pulls require a specific form with limited variations to make them either lighter or heavier (aside from adjusting the weight) and are best performed with a cable machine.
If you don't have access to one, you can use resistance bands - hang them on a bar and pull them up to your face. Other moves that target similar muscle groups include lat pulldowns, pull-ups, dumbbell flies, and dumbbell rows.