How To Do Cable Face Pulls For Strong Shoulder Muscles

cable face pulls

Cable face pulls are done using a resistance band or cable machine. A cable machine is the most preferred method of doing a face pull workout since you can add more resistance as you keep getting stronger.

Even though resistance bands also come in a variety of tension, advanced exercisers may not feel enough challenged with bands.

This article will discuss the right way of doing cable rope face pulls, their benefits, and alternatives.

What is Cable Face Pulls?

Face pulls are also known as rope pull, high row, and rear delt pull. This is considered an intermediate-level workout by the American Council on Exercise. 

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Benefits of Cable Face Pulls:

 A face pull workout targets the rear deltoids are the primary muscles. The rhomboids, which help in pinching the shoulder blades and middle trapezius, play a role in the complete execution of the cable rope face pulls.

Training these areas helps reduce shoulder injuries and maintain good posture to prevent muscle imbalance, which often happens in chest work.

The upper and shoulder back muscles also help in several physical activities and daily tasks which require reaching or pulling. Because this move is made while standing, you can also recruit muscles of your core, which helps maintain balance and stability. 

These are some of the muscles which are targeted while performing face pull workouts:

  • deltoids
  • rhomboids
  • trapezius
  • core muscles

Cable face pulls

You will spot many people doing face pulls using a cable machine with a rope attachment in a gym. Some people also like using a straight bar attachment; however, it can change the range of motion. So it is important to use a rope when performing a face pull workout.

Below we have mentioned the steps to perform cable rope face pulls appropriately.

  • Secure the rope attachment to a high rotating pulley with dual handles. Keep it at a height equal to your head or slightly above.
  • Choose the weight stack to suit your resistance level. As this is not a power exercise, you should go lighter and focus on your forms and formation.
  • Stand facing the pulley and keep your feet at a hip wide distance.
  • Grasp the rope handles in a neutral position with palms facing in.
  • Move a few steps back to keep your arms fully extended, and your knees should be slightly bent. Lift your chest up and roll back the shoulders and focus on engaging core muscles. 
  • Pull back your hands towards the forehead until your hands are in front of your shoulders. Your shoulder blades pinch or retract together. You have to hold this position for a few seconds. 
  • Straighten your arms slowly and return back to starting position, then repeat the movement again.

Banded face pulls

If you are planning to work out at home, then you can still incorporate cable face pulls into your workout with the help of a resistance band. Use a resistance band that is not looped so that you can anchor it onto something sturdy like a tree or post.

  • Hang the band to a fixed attachment. 
  • Grab each side of the band in both hands and keep your palms facing on the inside. Squeeze the shoulder blades and pull the band slowly towards the shoulder.
  • Pause for 1 second and return back to the starting position. Remember to focus on your form and squeeze your shoulder blades together. 

Tips for mastering the face pull

  • Properly squeeze the shoulder blades together is an extremely important step for doing face pull workouts properly. Imagine as if you have a golf ball in between the shoulders, and you have to pinch them together to hold the ball.
  • Start by using light weights. The rear deltoids are the primary target muscles in face fulls. If you go heavy on weight, you will end up using a large muscle group to perform the moves. This will defeat the whole purpose of the exercise.
  • Focus on the right form- this exercise will be a success only if you maintain the right posture while making the moves. This would mean that you will have to stand tall, keeping elbows pointing out, palms facing in, and shoulders back and down. If you think the weight is heavy, lower them as it can cause a strain on your lower back and will take tension off the target area.
  • Change Stance- if you feel your lower back is doing all the work or you experience discomfort or pain in that area, it’s time to take a staggered stance. You can also perform this workout while kneeling down.

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Face pull alternative

If you do not want to try cable face pulls for any reason, here are some face pulls alternatives for you to try out.

Resistance band face pulls.

Like any regular face pull workout, resistance bands are a great way to work your rear deltoid. These bands are a great alternative to cable pulley.

Doing this exercise will help beginners to get a feel of cable rope face pulls on the machine.

Seated Cable Face Pull

Seated face pulls are similar to resistance band face pulls and the regular cable pull workout. However, this exercise works on horizontal abduction, so you will be able to rotate your shoulders more. 

Having a better range of motion comes with its own benefits. You can easily load the weights, but make sure to follow the right technique to prevent any injuries. 

Here’s how to do seated cable face pull:

  • Attach rope that you use for tricep extensions to the seated cable area. You can also use any cable pulley machine.
  • Keep your back straight, and your knees bent slightly. Hold the rope tightly and keep your palms facing inside in the forehand position.
  • Move the arms back and pull the rope towards the forehead while keeping the arms at shoulder level.
  • Rotate shoulders outside when completing the movement.
  • Squeeze upper back muscles to extend fully and hold them there for 1-2 seconds. Now return back to neutral to make sure there is no tension in the ropes.
  • Start by keeping the weights low to learn the technique and keep the right posture. 

 Dumbbell Bent-Over Reverse Fly

This is a great face pull alternative to building muscles on rear deltoids as it works on all the right angles and targets the muscles. It is important to perform this exercise with light weights to use the momentum of light weights instead of creating tension.

Here’s how to do the dumbbell bent over-exercise:

  • Pick comfortable weight dumbbells and hold them tight.
  • Stand while keeping your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Bend the back to ensure your neck is in a neutral position. Keep dumbbells under the check and elbows bent slightly. 
  • Raise arms to keep them parallel to the ground. Move your shoulders only and not the rest of the parts.
  • Squeeze upper back muscles and hold for 2 seconds.
  • Lower the dumbbells maintaining the tension, and return to original positions. 
  • Perform 10-12 repetitions of this workout. 

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 High Cable Pulley Lat Extension

Another best face pull workout alternative is to warm up the muscles and get them ready for a heavy shoulder or back session. This workout targets the different muscles like rear deltoids, rhomboids, and traps.

Here’s how to do high cable lat extension:

  • Find the pulley machine with weight on both sides. Remove any other attachment from the pulley machine-like metal hooks.
  • Adjust the pulley to the highest setting.
  • Grab the cable ends with both palms facing in. grab the opposite side of the left arm with the right pulley and vice versa.
  • Extend both arms in a diagonal direction until arms are beside you.
  • Hold in this position for 1-2 seconds. When arms extend fully and squeeze the upper back muscles to return to starting position.  
  • Complete at least 10-12 repetitions. 

Wide Grip Inverted Row 

This is an excellent pull workout for your back. If you include this exercise in a row with your routines and notice a difference in your workouts. 

Wide grip inverted row targets the rear deltoids along with the rest of the upper back muscles. 

Steps to perform Wide Grip Inverted row:

  • Find a rack and barbell under your waist height. You can also use a smith squat rack if you cannot find a regular squat rack.
  • Lie facing upside with the barbell right above your chest and make sure the heels are together. 
  • Hold the barbell wide enough to make sure you have completed the movement by keeping elbows at 90 degrees.
  • Make sure your elbows are at shoulder level. Now pull yourself until the barbell reaches the sternum. While performing this movement, make sure that the head is in line with the ankles.
  • Maintain tension and drop the dumbbell slowly.
  • If you are new to this exercise, and complete at least 6-8 repetitions to build strength. Once you start gaining confidence, you can follow up with 10-12 repetitions. 

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The takeaway

Face pull workout is among many other upper body exercises that can be included in an overall workout routine. It helps to improve shoulder health and movement patterns, shoulder strength, and scapular stability. 

By adding cable rope face pulls, you can work your complete upper body. While performing this move, if you feel discomfort or pain, decrease resistance and check your form. If it does not help, check with a certified personal trainer.