The benefits of Face Pull & why its the most underrated exercise

Face pulls exercise (Photo via Gordon Cowie/Unsplash)
Face pulls exercise (Photo via Unsplash/Gordon Cowie)

Face pulls that targets the upper back and shoulder muscles. Specifically, this exercise targets the rhomboids, rear delts, and rotator cuffs.

To do this exercise, you need access to a cable pulley machine. More often than not, every fitness establishment has this machine. However, if you don’t have access to one, you can use a free-weight variation of the exercise to target the same muscle groups.

How to do face pulls?

Face pulls (Photo via Unsplash/Shan A. Rajpoot)
Face pulls (Photo via Unsplash/Shan A. Rajpoot)

Face pulls form is essential to master if you want to target muscle groups properly. Moreover, good form ensures lesser chances of injury as well. Here are the steps you need to follow to properly do the exercise:

Step 1: Adjust the cable pulley machine

You need to adjust the anchor of the pulley machine at forehead-height or slightly lower.

Step 2: Attach the handle

The rope handle is more common for the exercise over other bars, such as the straight bar. Additionally, select a suitable weight that you can pull. It’s advisable to begin light and move up based on your strength and performance.

Step 3: Fix your position

You need to use an overhand grip to hold the rope bar. While holding the grip, step backwards till your hands are completely extended. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and core engaged. Slightly lean backwards, and keep your shoulders down.

Step 4: Pull the weight

Maintaining your position as per step 3, pull the bar towards your face. As you pull it towards your face, the elbows should flare outwards, and the rear delts will engage.

At the top of the motion, squeeze your shoulder blades together, and hold the position for a second.

Step 5: Control the negative

When releasing the weight back to the starting position, go steady. The more you control the negative, the better it will be for maximum impact.

What are the muscles worked?

Muscles worked during face pulls (Photo via Unsplash/Scott Webb)
Muscles worked during face pulls (Photo via Unsplash/Scott Webb)

It’s important to understand how the face pulls muscles work, as that will allow you to identify if you’re doing the exercise correctly. The following are the muscle groups that engage during the exercise:

Rear delt

The muscle group is an important part of the shoulder muscles and is located at the back of the shoulder. It’s responsible for horizontal abduction and extension.


Rhomboids are located in the upper back, and their primary responsibility is shoulder blade retraction and maintaining proper posture. Apart from face pulls, you can add various rhomboids exercises to your routine too.

Rotator cuff

It's a group of four small muscles located on the shoulder joint. It helps with stabilizing the shoulders and preventing injury.


This is a large muscle group that extends from the neck and goes into the upper back. Its primary responsibility is shoulder rotation, elevation, and neck extension. Apart from exercises, it's important to implement certain trapezius stretchings for the muscle group too.

Benefits of face pulls

Benefits of face pulls (Photo via Unsplash/Morrow Solutions)
Benefits of face pulls (Photo via Unsplash/Morrow Solutions)

When you’re trying a face pulls workout, you should be aware of the benefits as well. That will encourage you to add exercise to your routine if you’re feeling reluctant about doing it.

Here are the benefits of the exercise:

Improves posture

As the exercise targets the rhomboids, which are responsible for maintaining posture, it helps with improving posture by strengthening the rhomboids.

Improves athletic performance

Trapezius muscles play an important role in athletic performance, and the exercise help with strengthening the traps and boosting athletic performance.

Increases strength and muscle mass

This exercise is an important part of the upper back and shoulders workout routine. It uses the basics of resistance training to work on muscle fibers, forcing them to grow back thicker and stronger.

Reduces risk of injury

The exercise targets the rotator cuffs, which help with preventing injury. Hence, by strengthening and improving the rotator cuffs, the exercise help reduce risk of injury.

Considering the aforementioned points, it’s advisable to add exercise to your workout routine. Not only will you be able to improve performance, but you will also be able to add upper body strength.

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Edited by Bhargav
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