A few years ago the Internet was all over functional fitness. Everyone was worried about doing things that made them more functional in life, and shunned awesome exercises like bicep curls because of that.
Part of that was for okay reasoning. Sure, being able to move well and just handle day-to-day life shit is good. Unfortunately though, most of the shit people came up with was just downright awful. It may have looked cool, but it wasn’t functional at all, and it didn’t help get people jacked.
But you know what does? The face pull.
If form and function got to together for a few margaritas and wound up getting smashed, and then hooked up, the face pull is what you get. It’s a perfect exercise that ingrains proper movement of the shoulder blades, while also helping build the rear delt, rhomboid, and traps.
Why do the face pull?
Most of us walk around with downright terrible posture. That’s just a fact of life. We sit hunched over all damn day, and then when we’re walking we’re typically staring at our phones. All of this shit posture leads to inhibited upper back muscles, which don’t fire the way they should.
On top of that, most people spend far too much time pressing in the gym. Thanks to all of that pressing our shoulders take a beating, and the shoulder blades are typically trained to move in only one real direction, which isn’t what they do at all.
The face pull fixes all of that.
Getting your shoulder blades to move freely and properly is one of the biggest keys to shoulder health there is. Your scapula need to be able to protract, depress, and retract properly. Without that ability, your going to be severely limited in the gym, and have trouble doing certain lifts.
This is where the face pull shines. It teaches the shoulder blades to protract completely, and retract with resistance, further ingraining that movement pattern.
And because of that resistance, you also get a growth effect in the rear delts, traps, and rhomboids. Not a bad little exercise.
How to do it.
There are a few different ways to go about the face pull, but the set up in the video above is one of the easiest.
Set up a high cable and stand back a couple of feet with a split stance. You want that split stance because the resistance is going to try and pull you a bit, so the split stance can help you keep your balance – just don’t let yourself lean backwards. You want to be standing upright the entire time.
From that point, let your shoulder blades protract completely. Your arms should be straight, and it’s helpful to think about letting your shoulder blades wrap around your rib cage.
Then initiate the pull by pulling your shoulder blades back together and squeezing as hard as possible, while pulling the rope directly between your eyes. Hold that squeeze for a split second, and then repeat.
Try working this in as a warm-up on all of your upper body days, as well as using it during your back and shoulder days. For most people, it’s really hard to overdo this sort of movement in the beginning. Typically your shoulders will feel better because of it. Happy pulling, bros.