What Muscles Do Face Pulls Work? Complete Guide to Face Pulls
Face pulls are one of the best exercises to strengthen the rear deltoids, trapezius, and upper back muscles. Since strong shoulders are important in everyday activities and workouts, you must strengthen these muscles to help with pulling, lifting, pressing, and rotating the arms. That’s where the face pull exercise comes in.
Face pulls are used widely by bodybuilders, sportspeople, and gym goers to strengthen the deltoids which are the powerhouse of the shoulders.
If you haven’t heard of this exercise before, keep reading as we discuss:
– What are face pulls?
– What muscles do face pulls work?
– How to do face pulls?
– Are they effective?
What is Face Pulls?
Face pulls are a weight training exercise that targets the muscles in the upper back and shoulders. The main muscle it targets is the posterior deltoids, trapezius, rhomboids, as well as the infraspinatus and teres minor muscles. This form of exercise is considered one of the most important exercises to build strength and stability in the shoulders.
Face pulls are often done with the use of a cable machine. This machine connects to a rope and is pulled towards the athlete’s face, with the elbows flared outwards away from the face. The exercise can be performed either seated or standing. However, most experienced people tend to perform it standing.
How to Do Face Pulls?
Now you have a good understanding of the exercise, knowing how to do the face pulls correctly will prevent injury and better posture.
To do the face pull, first set up a cable machine with a double-rope attachment fitted. Then hold the handles with an overhand grip position and walk backward until you have extended arms and some tension on the cable. Now, pull the handles towards you slowly, keep your arms parallel to the floor. Your elbows should bend and the handles land on either side of your face.
Slowly return to the starting position, but remember to keep tension on the cable.
Focus on keeping the entire movement slow and controlled. It is also important to squeeze the deltoids once the handle lands close to either side of the face.
When doing this exercise make sure you don’t overdo it and lift to heavier weights. Otherwise, your lower back will start to engage and reduce the amount of engagement of the shoulders and upper back.
If you don’t have access to a cable machine, you can also replicate this exercise with a resistance band. To do this, make sure you can connect the band to something stable.
To add some variation to this exercise, you can also pull the hands further apart as you pull the band closer to your face. By doing this you can target more of the upper back and shoulders. It also makes for a good warm-up before bench press or other similar exercises.
Face Pulls With Dumbbells
If you don’t have access to a cable machine, face pulls with dumbbells are an alternative. However, this is an alternative exercise called the dumbbell bent-over reverse fly which can also help strengthen the muscles of the rear deltoids.
Here’s how to do the exercise:
1. Pick a suitable weight that you can lift.
2. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and squat slightly
3. Bend your back and keep your neck in a neutral position. Then hold your dumbbells under the chest with your elbows bent slightly.
4. Raise your arms out like a bird’s wing until they are parallel to the ground. Focus on movement from the shoulder only.
5. Squeeze your upper back muscles once you have finished extending the arms out. Hold this for 1-2 seconds
6. Lower the dumbbells to the starting position but make sure you keep the tension the whole way down.
7. Repeat 10-12 times.
If you are unsure how to perform this exercise, speak with a personal trainer or coach. They can help guide you through the correct movements and help you pick the correct weight for you.
Are Face Pulls effective?
We already know that face pulls are an effective exercise for the back and shoulders, but are face pulls effective?
Working the upper back muscles (rhomboids and trapezius) can help improve your posture and not just strengthen the upper back and shoulder muscles.
The face pull is one of many exercises that you should include in your workout plan, as it can also help increase mobility in the shoulders. However, for best results, the face pull should be combined with other back and shoulder workouts.
Last but not least is the benefit it gives to other exercises. With practice, face pulls can be part of your warm-up routine before more challenging workouts like the deadlift, pullups, or barbell bench press for example.
Some good tips to follow when doing the exercise for the first time are:
– Maintain a neutral neck position
– Slow down the tempo
– Maximize time under tension
– Squeeze the shoulder blades to help control movement
– Don’t have too much weight
If you can maximize the time under tension you will start to see better muscle growth. Also by slowing down the tempo, you can improve your technique and prepare you to lift heavyweights in the future.
Like any other weight training exercise, make sure you take your time and learn the proper technique. If you are unsure of how to do the face pull correctly, speak to a qualified personal trainer.
What Muscles Do Face Pulls Work?
So, what muscles do face pulls work? The face pull exercise mainly targets the rear deltoids, rhomboids, and middle trapezius muscles. However, it can also improve shoulder health. Namely, the rotator cuff muscles (infraspinatus).
However, it is important not to do this workout with heavy weights as a beginner, as you will engage the back muscles too much. This prevents the upper back muscles and shoulders from engaging correctly.
As you get more confident in your form and technique, you can start to slowly increase the weights. By then you should start to see better mobility in the shoulders and also more strength.