WorkoutsMuscle BuildingShoulderTraining

How to do Face Pulls Properly and Safely

All you bros out there know a dude ain’t lifting if he hasn’t got the shoulders to prove it. Every day is bench day and there’s nothing wrong with that bro. But if you’re gonna hit it hard, which we know you will, you need to make sure your shoulders can handle it. That’s where face pulls come in.

Now stay cool bro, we’re not saying you can’t hack an upper body session. You just need to incorporate a couple of key movements that will keep shoulder injuries at bay. Cos lets face it, you can’t bench sh*t if your shoulders are jacked up.

One of these preventative exercises is the face pull. It’s one of those movements we see all the time in the gym, and more often then not, it makes us cringe. So many people get this one so, so wrong we can’t watch it anymore. And so, this article was born.

Keep your shoulders in bar-bending shape and read on, bro.


Article brodown:

  • Why you should be doing face pulls
  • Tips for good form
  • How to do a face pull
  • How should you be programming face pulls?
  • Final thoughts


man with defined rear deltoids

Why you should be doing face pulls

Us bro’s love hitting a push day, so it sounds a little contradictory to tell you to hit a pull movement to strengthen up your shoulders. Hear us out though bro.

If you stick to just push days, it can actually have a negative impact on your bench.

Your body needs balance to stay strong and that means you need to work those antagonistic (opposite) muscles in your back, to ensure you can handle those massive bench performances.

If you don’t work some pull exercises in every now and then, your chest and the front of your shoulders start to pull your forward. In science terms, this is called an internal rotation and it can mean some serious stability issues and it can lead to injury pretty damn quickly. It’ll also make you look like a weird-ass super villain who’s about to crumple and implode.

No chick wants to date a guy with a hunch and a weak ass bench.

A face pull will help to balance that out by giving your rear delts a little love. The stronger they are, the more they’ll pull you up and balance you out. That way you’ll nail that all-round shoulder stability for a bigger, safer bench.

Looking for more delt-growing exercises? Check out this guide for ridiculously defined deltoids.

  Image of man showing him doing the start and finish position of a face pull

Tips for good form

We see people messing with face pulls all the time. So many people get it wrong we’re about to start cutting all the cables in every gym we go to.

The problem with this movement is it’s easy to let your form slip or focus on the wrong elements of the movement. If this happens, not only will you struggle to get the results you’re looking for, you could just end up walking away with an injury.

Ain’t nobody got time for sitting around with a shoulder injury.

Don’t worry bro, we’ve got you covered so you don’t look like a beta newbie on the cable machine.


Check out our top tips:

  • Don’t go too heavy. We know you’re strong AF, but don’t go too heavy on this. As soon as you do, you’ll feel it through your lower back and put yourself right in the firing line for injury. Keep it tight and don’t mess yourself up for no reason. That’s classic beta behavior, bro.
  • Avoid jerking it. We see this all the time. As soon as you start jerking the cable, you’re defeating the purpose of the movement because you’re using all the wrong muscles to move the weight and you could pull something. Drop the load bro.
  • Don’t speed through reps. This movement is all about drilling in to those stabilizing muscles, not hitting an explosive set. If you go too fast, you’re also at risk of jerking the cable.
  • Keep your head still. Alpha’s don’t cut corners, so don’t thrust your head forward to meet the rope. You won’t get the most out of the rep and bro, honestly, you look like a chicken.
  • Don’t drop your elbows. Keep your elbows high to really drill in to those muscles in your upper back. As soon as your shoulders, elbows and wrists drop out of alignment, you’ll start pulling your lats in instead.
  • Stay in control. The key to really perfecting those stabilizing muscles is to make every movement as controlled as possible. Not just on the pull, but when you return to the start position too. By taking it more slowly and controlling the movement, your muscles will be on fire from start to finish.

Credit: Omarlsuf

How to do a face pull

With those tips in mind, give the face pull a go like a real pro. When it comes to bench day, you’ll thank us for this one.

  1. Fix a rope attachment to the cable and set it to around face height.
  2. Grip the handles with your palms facing each other.
  3. Stand in front of the cable with a strong neutral stance. Step back until your arms are completely straight, aligned with your shoulders and you’re taking the weight of the cable slightly.
  4. Before you start to bend your arms, keep your chest high and activate the muscles in your upper back by pulling your scapulae together.
  5. Then, bend at the elbow to pull the weight toward your face. Remember not to let your elbows drop.
  6. Stop pulling when the rope is near your forehead to get more of an external rotation.
  7. Hold this position for a moment, before slowly returning to the start position with your arms completely straight.

Lift like a pro and master all the key compound movements with this guide from SpotMeBro.


How should you be programming face pulls?

Smashing out a bench day is every bro’s favorite day. But we already know hitting the press time and time again can put us in line for injury and leave us hunched up, Quasimodo style. To achieve balance, you need to be fitting in your face pulls as regularly as you bench. Try to make time for them during your chest day so you never miss out.

Your upper back muscles are pretty fatigue resistant, so you can perform your face pulls a few times a week. On top of that, you’ll be hitting relatively light weights compared to the rest of your beastly upper-body day, so it’s not going to leave you with DOMs either.

To complement the lower weight, we recommend you perform between 8-12 reps. Anything lower than this and the load may be too heavy to achieve that perfect form we’re looking for. Do these reps over 4-5 sets for shoulder strengthening results.

man with defined deltoids performing hold the cables

Final thoughts

The bottom line is bro, you need to prescribe yourself a course of face pulls if you want your shoulders to stay in bench-dominating shape.

Perfecting the face pull is about more than just helping you stand up straight and looking like an Adonis. By balancing your physique with this back-centric movement, you can bolster your body to lift heavier.

Next time you’re heading to the gym for bench day, don’t give in to that beta sh*t. Balance out your workouts and you’ll soon be leaving half-assed losers in the dirt.

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