Face pulls are an incredibly underrated and underutilized exercise. Although they are considered a staple in powerlifting circles, it’s pretty rare to see an average person at the gym performing them as a part of their workout. And what’s even rarer is seeing someone performing face pulls properly.

Face pulls provide a multifunctional lift, and, are both; a muscle-building exercise as well as a highly effective movement for improving your shoulder health and your overall posture.

Benefits of Face Pulls

They are great for building up your delts, the traps, the rhomboids, and the rotator cuff muscles. They are also one of the best exercises out there for treating and preventing an extremely common problem, which is the internal rotation of the shoulder joints, or, “rounded shoulders”.

What Causes Rounded Shoulders and Internal Rotation of Shoulder Joints?

A large percentage of serious lifters often encounter this problem. This problem usually, is the result of over-emphasis on pressing exercises for the chest and the front delts.

This problem in combination with other postural issues that are quite common these days, such as sitting at a computer all day with your head and shoulders hunched forward, can be solved through face pulls.

Performing face pulls will not only add muscle size and strength to your rear delts and upper back, but it will also help you to externally rotate your shoulders and pull them back to the proper position for proper posture and decreased injury risk.

How To Perform Face Pulls?

Performing face pulls is easy and doesn’t require a lot of equipment. To perform a face pull, all you need is a cable machine or a resistance band. Usually, a cable machine is a preferred method for doing this exercise as you can build up the resistance once you gain more strength.

If you want to go for resistance bands instead, don’t worry about different resistance levels as these bands do come in a variety of tensions. However, pro lifters might not find it challenging enough even with the strongest bands.

What Are Face Pulls Good For:

Face pulls are excellent for healthy shoulder movements and work a lot of upper body muscles. They work very well in keeping the shoulders squared back so your posture is maintained and you dont give off a slouched look.

They also help in preventing the “pulled forward look” that is a result of doing an excess of the chest and front delts workouts. Face pulls also help in building a thick upper back as a base to arch into for a power bench press.

Another reason why face pulls are so great is that they make your shoulders stronger. We cannot deny the importance of having strong shoulders. They are critically important for performing everyday life activities like lifting, pressing, pulling, and rotating your arms.

Face pulls work the deltoids, which are the powerhouse muscle group of the shoulders. This muscle group is mainly responsible for all overhead actions (putting items up on high shelves, lifting a child onto your shoulders, or even shooting a basketball).

However, the rear delts are often neglected. Such type of muscular imbalance can cause shoulder pain and injury as well as the appearance of poor posture. Hence, it is important to incorporate exercises into your routine that target your rear delts and shoulders, and, face pulls will definitely help you do that.

Face pulls also target another group of muscles, the rhomboids, which allow the pinching of the shoulder blades together, as well as, the middle trapezius, which also plays a role in executing this move.

How To Avoid Shoulder Injury When Working Out?

It’s important to remember that training these areas is the key to minimizing shoulder injuries, maintaining a healthy posture, and preventing muscle imbalances that often happen from too many chest workouts.

Additionally, strong upper back muscles and shoulders will help you in performing several physical activities and daily tasks that require pulling or reaching, with ease. This exercise is performed standing up, thus engaging your core muscles, which provides stability and balance.

If you’re looking to improve your overall upper body and shoulder health, face pulls will be excellent for you. Adding this exercise to your workout routine will not only help improve your general shoulder health and movement patterns but also help increase your shoulder strength and scapular stability.

You can add this workout to an upper-body, shoulder, or back-specific workout. It is recommended to decrease the resistance if you experience any pain or discomfort while performing face pulls. You should also check your form, or, see a physical therapist or certified personal trainer for assistance.


An avid fitness geek, who is mostly lifting in the gym. A computer junkie on the side. Started ClassikaFitness to teach people what I learned over the years.

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