Everything you need to know about face pulls. (Image via Pexels/Photo by Scott Webb)

What Are Face Pulls? Tips, Technique, Correct Form, Benefits and Common Mistakes

Shuvangi Sen Chaudhury

Face pulls are an exercise that focuses on the posterior deltoids of the shoulder. More often than not, the posterior deltoids do not get worked on shoulder days, considering most exercises revolve heavily around the anterior and lateral heads. However, it’s important to develop posterior or rear delts that will develop the shoulders with balance across all three heads.


The correct form of doing face pulls

This exercise is done using a cable pulley machine that can be found in most gyms. You’ll need to attach the rope bar to the cables and adjust it slightly above your forehead.

To execute the exercise:

  • Hold the ends of the ropes with your palms facing inwards. Move backwards to a point where your arms are completely extended and lean back slightly. This is your starting position.
  • Pull the ropes toward your forehead while keeping your palms inwards and elbows flared outward. At the top of the position, your rear delts should be engaged. Hold this position for a second and slowly reverse the motion until your arms are extended again.
  • Do this movement for at least 10 to 15 reps depending on the weight you’re using.

Tips to do face pulls better

Since this exercise focuses on your rear delts, your shoulders cannot roll or hunch forward. You need to keep it engaged to ensure the proper muscles get activated. Additionally, ensure you’re not allowing your chest to roll forward as you extend. This will break away from the posture you need to be in when doing the exercise.

Benefits of doing face pulls

  • Focuses on developing the shoulder overall
  • Helps with posture when doing compound movements
  • Enables the shoulders to withstand heavier weights
  • Activates the rear delts and surrounding back muscles
  • Helps with improving back muscles.

Common mistakes to avoid during face pulls

It’s important that you incorporate this exercise into your workout routine since it focuses on the body part that usually gets neglected. However, if you’re aware of the common mistakes, you’ll be able to master the movement faster.


Incorrect form

This exercise depends primarily on your form. If you don’t lean back slightly and engage your posterior delts, you will not be able to reap the benefits. There can be times when your chest or shoulders roll forward, and you have to ensure you fix your posture as soon as you realize this.

Excess weight

While this exercise can be done with various weights, you must select one which isn’t extremely heavy. The rear delt muscles are smaller compared to the other muscles and should be treated as such. To avoid injuries, it is advised that you do this exercise using slightly lighter weights but for higher reps.

Bottom line

Ideally, you can do face pulls on shoulder days and back days. Even though it works the rear delts, it also focuses on the smaller back muscles. As a result, you can do face pulls as a finisher exercise on either of the days or both days, depending on what your workout routine looks like.

Edited by Sabine Algur
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