Unlocking The Power Of Face Pulls For Stronger Shoulders

Unlocking The Power Of Face Pulls For Stronger Shoulders

Face pulls are an essential exercise that focuses on the often overlooked posterior deltoids, the muscles at the back of your shoulders. These muscles are crucial for pulling your arms back and maintaining good posture. By incorporating face pulls into your workout routine, you can help balance your shoulder muscles, improve overall shoulder strength, and prevent the slumped posture that comes from neglecting the rear delts. Let's explore how to effectively perform face workouts, their benefits, and some variations to keep your workouts fresh and challenging.

What Are Face Pulls?

Face pulls are an exercise that primarily targets the rear deltoids. These muscles are responsible for movements like pulling your arms backward, which many traditional shoulder exercises tend to neglect. You'll typically use a cable machine with a rope attachment to perform face pulls, pulling the weight towards your face. This exercise strengthens the rear delts and engages other muscles like the traps, rhomboids, and rotator cuff, contributing to better posture and enhanced shoulder stability.

The Importance Of Face Pulls

Many focus on exercises that work the front and side shoulder muscles, such as pressing and lifting. However, this can lead to imbalances, where the front of the body is stronger than the back. These imbalances can cause poor posture and increase the risk of injury. Incorporating face pulls into your routine ensures you're working the rear delts, promoting balanced shoulder development, and preventing issues from neglecting these muscles.

How To Perform Face Pulls

  1. Adjust a cable machine so the rope attachment is at chest height.
  2. Grab the rope with a neutral grip, meaning your palms face each other.
  3. Step back to create tension and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart or staggered.
  4. Pull the rope towards your face, spreading the rope apart as you do so.
  5. Keep your elbows up and out, forming a "T" shape with your arms.
  6. Squeeze your rear delts at the top of the movement, pause briefly, and then return to the starting position with control.
Face Pulls

Benefits Of Face Pulls

  • Balanced Shoulder Development: Ensures even muscle growth between the front and back of the shoulders.
  • Improved Posture: Strengthens muscles that help maintain an upright posture.
  • Enhanced Shoulder Stability: Strengthens stabilizing muscles, reducing the risk of shoulder injuries.
  • Upper Body Strength: Builds upper body strength, supporting other lifts and daily activities.

Face Pull Variations To Try

Looking to add variety to your workout routine? Check out these different face pull exercises to target and strengthen your upper back, shoulders, and arms.

Using Resistance Bands

If you don't have access to a cable machine, you can use resistance bands. Attach the bands to a high point, such as a pull-up bar, and perform the movement similarly. You can also use a yoga strap. This is a great option for beginners, though it might need to provide more resistance for advanced lifters.


yoga strap


Dumbbell Rear Delt Fly

Dumbbells can be a good alternative when a cable machine or bands aren't available. Although not a perfect substitute for face pulls, the dumbbell rear delt fly also targets the rear delts. To perform this, lean forward slightly with a dumbbell in each hand and lift the weights to the side, focusing on squeezing your shoulder blades together.

Adjust Your Grip

While the neutral grip is standard, experimenting with an underhand grip can provide a different challenge. For this variation, use lighter weights and focus on controlled movements to avoid injury.

Seated Face Pulls

If you aim to build muscle and lift heavier weights, performing face pulls in a seated position can help. Sitting down prevents using your lower body to assist in the movement, ensuring that your delts do most of the work.

Common Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

Here are simple points that need to be avoided while performing face pulls:

Poor Posture

One of the most common errors with face pulls is poor form. Pull the rope towards your forehead, not your chin or neck. Your elbows should stay up and out, and your palms should face each other. If you feel the exercise is more in your biceps or upper back, check your form and adjust as needed.

Using Too Much Weight

The rear delts are smaller muscles that require lighter weights to be effectively targeted. If you find yourself using momentum to pull the rope or can't control the weight on the return, reduce the weight to ensure proper form and maximum benefit.

Tips For Effective Face Pulls

  • Use a Neutral Grip: This grip is often more comfortable and allows a greater range of motion.
  • Choose the Right Weight: Avoid heavy weights, as they will lead to poor form and decreased effectiveness.
  • Engage Your Core: Remember to keep your core tight to stabilize your body and focus on working your shoulders.


Face pulls are a versatile and effective exercise for strengthening the rear delts and improving overall shoulder health. You can achieve balanced shoulder development, better posture, and reduced injury risk by including face pulls in your workout routine. Remember to focus on proper form, choose a suitable weight, and explore different variations to keep your workouts effective and engaging.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Muscles Are Targeted By Face Pulls?

Face pulls primarily work the rear deltoids, which are located at the back of your shoulders. They also engage the rhomboids and middle trapezius muscles in your upper back.

Can Face Pulls Work The Biceps Too?

While face pulls target the rear delts and upper back, incorrect forms—like pulling towards your chin or dropping your elbows—can shift the focus to your biceps and back. Ensure proper technique to avoid this.