Top 15 Face Pull Variations For Shoulder Health & Performance

By Dr. John Rusin

face pull

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Nothing Beats The Face Pull For Pain-Free Performance

The face pull is THE pain-free shoulder staple that belongs in most all programs no matter the goal or training focus. If you have shoulders, you should probably be prioritizing face pulls as healthy shoulders are not a given, they need to be earned. Consider face pulls a daily vitamin for long-term shoulder health. Dosed daily, and they can help protect against pain, injury and sedentary daily positions while unlocking performance potential.

If you want to create a strong and stable upper back that acts as the cornerstone of your performances in the gym and out while ridding your shoulders of the notoriously frustrating front sided shoulder pain, you better be hammering loads of pain-free volume with different variations of this key movement. The shoulders thrive with slight variation and strategic novelty, so give them what they need!

Simply put, nothing beats the face pull for building the upper back while bulletproofing the shoulders against pain and injuries. But to think there is one way to do face pulls is a little short sighted, don’t you think? So here are fifteen face pull variations that will make this staple shoulder saving movement ever better including video tutorials, deep diving coaching notes and everything you need to make the already fantastic face pull exercise even better.

#15 Anchor High or Low Depending on Shoulder Blade Position

One of the most common questions regarding face pulls is where to anchor the band or cable unit and more importantly why. While the name of the exercise is pretty clear that you are pulling the band or cable to the face, aka a FACE pull, where is the ideal origin for the resistance to start from?  Well, it depends…

I recommend introducing the face pull in any hand or tool variation at a parallel position of pull to the ground. For many, this will be at approximately chin height. This parallel face pull angle allows a more pure horizontal force vector and places an emphasis on full retraction of the shoulder blades together at terminal end range of motion.

Note that the angle of pull for the face pull is ALL about the shoulder blade starting, ending and intermediary dynamic positions. With this in mind, there are two unique options to better individualize the face pull to specific needs and goals of the exercise.

First, the high anchored face pull is the most commonly utilized variant due to its ability to meet the average person’s shoulder blade position where it’s at. Simply put, our current day society lives in protraction, upward rotation and elevation of the shoulder blade (think high and forward shoulders here) due to apparent postural demands of handheld technologies and poor chronic daily positions.

For these people, pulling at a downward angle to the face allows the shoulder dynamic shoulder movement to be emphasized in the downward rotation moment and also depression of the entire shoulder complex as a unit.

A second altered anchor point variation is the low position face pull, which is best suited for clients that have “low riding” shoulder blade positioning and need to emphasize upward rotation, protraction and slight elevation of their scapulae. While this presentation is not very common in general fitness populations (see previous paragraph) it does present a fair share of times in overhead throwing athletes.

Again, anchoring must be based on the needs of the shoulder blade position, lead by placing a key emphasis on different aspects of the upper back scapular intrinsic stabilizers. If you can quickly assess shoulder blade positioning and combine that with dynamic movement capabilities of the shoulder as a whole, it makes custom fitting face pull setups to your clients much more efficient.

#14 Pull The Band Back To Your Face… AND Apart

The banded face pull is still one of the simplest, most effective tools for building a thick and functional upper back to support the dynamics of the shoulder in a myriad of activities. Using only a band with hands placed in a pronated position, driving your elbows back and the band to your face against accommodating resistance has some major benefits that make it my go-to face pull variation.

First and foremost, many athletes simply don’t have access to cable stacks or machines with the popularization of privatized industrial gyms and boxes. So using a common tool like the band that is available to everyone in every setting has its benefits from a practicality standpoint.

But for a proper training effect with the face pull movement, we need to be a little more selective with the classification of bands that we use. Those tubular bands with handles on each end used in group fitness aren’t going to cut it. We are in need of circular bands. Why? It’s all about the face pull apart when we are talking about maximal activation and trainability.

Set up the band attached to a stable unit like a rig, squat rack or staircase at approximately head height. Drive back your elbows staying around shoulder height. In the last aspect of that range of motion on the backside, your hands need to not only be pulling back on the band, but also driving apart from one another. Hence the name, the banded face pull apart.

This acute detail will be a game changer for your upper back activation, so focus on peaking the contraction as hard as you can driving elbows back and pulling the band apart for a split second before controlling the band back into the starting position.

#13 Lay On A Foam Roller For Controlled Range of Motion

For some lifters who struggle to stay strict in more isolation movements like the face pull, there are some clear advantages to modifying the common standing position down the chain to something simpler, and far more stable. Lying on the ground supine can be a great alternative.

By laying on the ground, the head, neck, thoracic and lumbar spine (not to mention the pelvis) are all supported in neutral while the feet remain flat on the ground with flexion of the knees and hips. The more of your body that is supported, the less motor control requisites a movement will have, and the more likely that movement will be executed at a more optimal level. From a maximal surface area contact perspective, nothing beats supine.

But during movements like the face pull, we like to work a full range of motion. And due to the floor restricting the back end 25% of the range of motion, and arguably the most important aspect of the range for full shoulder blade dynamic stability, it’s less that advantageous for functional training.

By introducing a foam roller vertically under the body, this tool positions the body ideally to benefit from the best of both worlds. Because you’re laying on the ground supported, motor control requisites decrease along with global apprehension of the movement. But since the foam roller sits behind the spine (between the shoulder blades) it frees the scapulae up to move more freely while allowing the humerus (upper arm bone) to extend and rotate through further degrees of range.

When setting up the supine face pull on foam roller, manipulate the angles of pull just the same way as you would in a standing potion. And ensure that your pillar consisting of the shoulders, hips and core remains active to work the face pull from a strong and stable base. This variation works best for high rep sets in the 10-25 range for more metabolic stress based training stimuli.

#12 Use An Underhand Grip To Improve Activation

In a vast majority of my athletes, I prefer to program the overhand-pronated grip to its counterpart, the underhand (thumbs up) grip. The preference is due to the varying degree of external rotation range of motion that is involved on the backside of this movement pattern.

When it comes to adding a more isolated external rotation moment to a movement under loading, a little truly goes a long way. And in the overhand grip, slight external rotation is achieved by the limiting factor, which is the wrist position into flexion during the pull.

A golden rule is never to load a movement pattern heavy into ranges of motion where dynamic stability is not present. You must first earn the right by executing pristine full range of motion movement patterns before loading can challenge it. So keeping that in mind, the underhand grip is programmed for a different goal than the overhand grip, and that goal is activation and corrective movement.

Using the underhand grip on a band or cable as featured in the video helps tap into more corrective based ranges of motion for the shoulder and upper back while learning to stabilize the thoracic spine and shoulder blade during dynamic rotational movements at the true shoulder joint itself.

This variation requires intelligent programming of lighter loads, and slower, more controlled movements in order to avoid flaring up the shoulders or placing undue stress over the rotator cuff or other acute muscles being loaded in this exercise. If you can set your ego aside and load this movement properly in the 6-12 rep range with total control and stability, the activation benefits will quickly present. And that right there is the benefit of the underhand face pull setup.

#11 Improve Upper Back Targeting By NOT Gripping Hard

I realize this tip is most likely contrary to everything you’ve ever been taught about strength training, but remember, not all exercises are created or executed the same. While there are major advantages to maximizing grip on basically all traditional loaded movements due to the power, stability and neural drive tapped into by the irradiation effect, direct shoulder training is the exception to the rule.

When the goal is to target the upper back and intrinsic stabilizers of the shoulder blade, less grip is truly more. From an anatomical size perspective, the 17 acute intrinsic stabilizers that attach directly to the shoulder blade that aid in both static and dynamic stability along with movement are thin, short and straight up small. Lets compare that to bigger muscles in the upper extremity like the elbow flexors and extensors (aka biceps, triceps etc) and the forearm group that is home to many thicker, broader and stronger groups of adjacent muscles. There’s no comparison.

So when you kill your grip on face pull variations, the forearms and upper arms become highly active which takes away recruitment and targeting to the smaller muscles that you’re actually attempting to target at the upper back. For moving weight, that’s great, but the face pull is NOT about moving from point A to point B. It’s about smooth, articulate motions using strong mind muscle connection.

I recommend one of two options for face pulls to minimize or eliminate the irradiation effect via grip. First, use “meat hook grip” with your fingers while leaving your thumb free. This will reduce the grip from the bigger muscles of the forearms and upper arms.

If the meat hook grip doesn’t work, or you simply need to double down on true targeting of the upper back to a maximal degree on face pulls, I recommend the handless grip utilizing bands or straps around the wrist and an open hand. Either of these grips will severely reduce the weight you’ll be able to use for face pulls, but then again face pulls aren’t about heavy weights, it’s about targeting specific motions of the shoulder blades to function optimally in the shoulder complex.

#10 Use Kneeling Positions To Limit Momentum and Compensations

One thing holds true time and time again when it comes to training, cheaters are always going to find a way to cheat. Weather it’s half repping squats in the rack, lifting their ass up off the bench during heavy pressing to self justify using heavier loads, or just swinging around the entire cable stack trying to be a tough guy on face pulls, shitty execution yields shittier results.

The last thing that you should be thinking about with a properly programmed and executed face pull is moving maximal loads. How do you know when loading becomes too heavy? It’s pretty easy, you must alter your movement pattern in order to move the weight. Here are some common ego driven meathead execution errors with the face pull:

  1. Leaning back with a split stance against the cable stack
  2. Generating momentum with your torso or hips
  3. Incomplete range of motion (especially on the back side)
  4. Lack of smoothness in eccentric or concentric
  5. Unable to “feel” muscles working in the upper back

So lets not get too carried away. If you’re going to execute the traditional standing face pull get into an athletic stance, root the feet into the ground and brace up. The stronger the brace the better the targeted recruitment of the upper back musculature (more on that later down the list) for the face pull.

But if you truly want to make the face pull more functional (while keeping cheaters from cheating this staple movement) the tall kneeling and half kneeling positions are great options to train out of.

Tall kneeling will provide the most challenging pillar position for face pulls, requiring the glutes, adductors and core to create a synergy of stability for a base of support. Keep the torso upright and the hips in neutral.

As for the half kneeling position, asymmetrical stance of the lower body allows more spiraling stability of the hips and trunk to neurologically link, improving core control and movement of the face pull itself, which is a bilateral movement. Heavier loading can be authentically handled here due to the power of asymmetrical stability.

Lastly, the more involved we can get the neighboring regions of the body from head to toe involved in a simple movement like the face pull, the more carryover and higher level training effect we can elicit in a shorter amount of time. Now that’s a win-win in my book.

#9 Improve External Rotation Activation With TWO Cables

One of the key benefits that face pulls offer to long term shoulder health is working the upper back into both downward rotation, retraction and depression of the shoulder blade AND external rotation of the gleno-humeral (true shoulder) joint. If you want to take this one step further, face pulls place the shoulder blade through a near complete range of motion while allowing the gleno-humeral joint to dynamically stabilize in and out of rotational moments, that is a HUGE benefit for skill, stability and strength of the shoulder unit as a whole.

While you can clearly bias more or less rotation using bands or traditional cable setups with attachments like ropes or straps, in order to maximally bias external rotation with face pulls two separate cables or bands become the optimal setup.

By crossing the line of resistance separately in each hand, we can three dimensionalize the face pull more than a traditional single anchor two hands on setup. We can also tap into the freedom of allowing two hands to rotate in and out of pronation and supination more naturally, allowing the shoulders to therefore more through more rotational moments into both internal and external rotation.

The only downside to this setup is that the cables most cross over one another, placing one cable under and the opposite over. We can combat this slight asymmetrical setup by alternating which side is setup on top from set to set. But even when we alternate (now I’m getting picky) there are usually balls on each cable unit close to the end where the carabineer is located. These tend to hit one another and become annoying. If annoying is out biggest issue with the dual handle face pull plus rotation, we are doing well.

Don’t forget that any time a cable variation of the face pull is programmed or called for in training, you can simply copy the location of the anchor point and the line of pull with bands. The only difference here is that we are going from more constant “straight weight” off the cables to accommodating resistance that changes resistance depending on the degree of stretch in the band. What this means for quick time modifications is that smaller, thinner bands like the JRx Red Micro Bandsare usually needed to ensure full range of motion and quality execution.

#8 Sit Down While Face Pulling With Heavier Loads

Just as the underhand grip should be loaded and programmed with caution based on the external rotation moment that this variation places on the shoulder joint, we also need to remember that the face pull can be loaded like a staple muscle builder in the upper strength and hypertrophy rep ranges as well.

But as you start climbing your way up the weight stack in the face pull from a standing position, you’ll quickly hit a glass ceiling on the loads that you can stabilize without compensating at the torso, hips or lower body. As the weights get heavy, two key mistakes usually happen.

First, the lifter leans back and alters the mechanics of the movement that is less than ideal for creating shoulder and upper back resiliency. Second, many will split their stance and sit into a rotational moment at the hips and spine, which is again loads this pain-free shoulder staple in an symmetrical way, negating the “pain-free-ness” of the exercise.

Sure, some coaches will preach to you that you should only train loads that you can control from a symmetrical standing position, but why not alter the setup to reap the best of both worlds? This is where the seated face pull variation comes in.

By sitting on a bench or box, we can create better contact points with the ground, mainly from your ass on the bench in addition to your feet remaining on the floor. From this position, we can better stabilize the torso and spine while dialing in the ideal angle of pull that is staple and actively supported by the musculature of the pillar. This position also can create a higher angle to face pull from, which is great for ensuring that the prime movers (scapular muscles) are targeted and the upper traps and neck don’t take over with heavy compensation patterns.

From the seated position, we need to remain highly active by contracting the glutes, adductors, core and shoulders to achieve a pristine position first before we initiate a heavy face pull. From that base, loading into the 6-10 rep range will become a staple upper back builder that is not only effective, but easy on the shoulders as well.

#7 Root The Feet and Brace The Pillar on Face Pulls

One of the biggest mistakes I see athletes and clients make when executing performance programming is NOT respecting the smaller movements with the same mental intensity and intention as they do the big sexy lifts. I get it, a squat or deadlift is far more exciting than a few high rep sets of banded face pulls, but that doesn’t mean we should just throw in the towel, go through the motions and bull shit our reps. If you’re going to invest training time and energy, you may as well do it right. And that starts with bracing the pillar complex and recruiting full body tension.

A major pain-free tenet that I continually teach my athletes and clients is to setup, prepare and execute every set and rep of EVERY exercise the same, with maximal mental focus on the goal at hand. This means that for traditional standing face pull variations, the feet should be placed into an athletic stance, rooted down into the ground and spiral tensioned up by gripping the toes. Setting the feet is step one, and prepares the rest of the chain to become more optimally positioned for more effective face pulls (or whatever other exercise you’re executing with this setup).

From there we must pay close attention to the pillar complex consisting of the hips, shoulders and core integrating together as a functional unit. The glutes and adductors should co-contract together to stabilize the hips. The pecs and lats should pre-tension and co-contract together to set the shoulders in a prime centrated position. And last but absolutely not least we should take a breath in and brace through the core with 360-degree expansion.

Yes, ALL of that should happen before a face pull rep is ever dynamically pulled back. The more optimally you setup and prepare for a movement, the more likely that m movement will yield positive results no matter the goal at hand. Owning your pillar is the first and most important step to this process. Yes, it takes more mental energy to dial up your focus, but it will be well worth it with the results that you achieve in doing so.

#6 Work Authentic Angles In Chest Supported Positions

Pain-free shoulders are built by training the intermediate slight angles on both pushing and pulling based movements. We’ve covered the importance of customizing the pulling angle on face pulls based on an individual’s shoulder blade positioning, but failed to mention that the angle in which a specific anchor point position creates is secondary to that angle of pull’s interaction with the body’s torso and spinal angles.

Many times when low or high angle face pulls are trained out of the standing position, the torso naturally compensates and either becomes more forward angled or more upright, impacting the interaction between the line of pull and angle of the body. While this can be monitored, we can also more intelligently setup the face pull to gain, maintain and execute this pattern from a strict angle using an incline bench chest supported position.

By placing the body on an incline bench (incline angle can be manipulated to specific need) the chest and pelvis are supported from a static position and are more likely to maintain that solid position throughout the duration of a set of face pulls. This authenticates the angle of pull, ensuring that we aren’t compensating nor moving in and/or around the targeted angle, but rather within it the entire time.

The chest supported face pull also allows more focus on muscular targeting due to a strict restriction of compensation or momentum used at the torso or hip, hitting the upper back harder with less external loading. This setup can be executed with a cable stack, bands, or dumbbells.

Don’t forget that face pulls can be loaded with dumbbells in each hand, especially in this incline bench chest supported position to work the vertically oriented angle of pull for novelty and progression of the face pull pattern.

#5 Go Lighter: Never Let Resistance Limit Full Range of Motion

Anytime you are cruising Instagram or any other social media feed for that matter you need to prepare yourself to see some good, bad and some ugly shit when it comes to fitness, exercises and execution. But the one black eye I tend to see more times than not when it comes to face pulls being improperly executed throughout social media and even into commercial gyms and training centers is a lack of complete range of motion.

Seems like a simple fix, right? Just use lighter weights and move through a full range of motion with quality control and sound movement patterns. Simple enough. But for many misinformed athletes and lifters, the curse of face pull superficial knowledge hits hard, negating many of the benefits of this staple pain-free shoulder training exercise.

Before we move on, this needs to be stated; the face pull is NOT a strength movement. It should NOT be trained in power and pure strength schemes between 1-6 repetitions. It is best suited for hypertrophy and metabolic stress set and rep schemes between 8 and infinite reps. Why? We are targeting the musculature of the upper back, which are posterior chain prime postural stabilization muscles that function to support, stabilize and keep us upright. We must train this region for this goal, to protect and support the shoulders and postural demands of daily lifestyles.

Keeping this in mind, the banded face pull has some clear advantages over the cable unit face pull (as covered above) but again, bands and cables are two different loading stimuli that feel and function differently even if they are used on the same exercise like face pulls.

Using too thick of a band (this is a common face pull flaw) can go from resistance that is easy at the beginning to resistance that is impossible at end range. This is notably true with face pulls where we are weakest and in the most vulnerable position at end range. By using the wrong size band, people tend to half rep their face pulls during them into biceps work instead of an upper back emphasized movement.

And yes, there are also individuals that are just meatheads and go too heavy and negate notable training effects of the face pull while increasing potential risk of pain and injury in the process. Don’t be the guy PR’ing his face pulls, please. And don’t butcher face pulls then complain that “face pulls didn’t work for me.”

So when it comes to face pulls, go for higher reps, use thinner bands and set your ego aside. And above all else, have your shoulder blades moving fully through rotation on the thoracic cage dictate your range of motion, NOT your elbows or hands. Do face pulls right and you’ll enjoy bigger, stronger, more pain-free lifts, I can guarantee you that.

#4 Program Into Supersets To Increase Pain-Free Volume Ratios

Due to the restorative range of motion that the face pull brings your shoulders, mid-back and scapula through, you truly can’t get enough of this type of movement. I consider this strategic upper back work as “pain-free volume” and is otherwise “free volume” that would not necessarily place huge amounts of unwanted mechanical or neurological stress on your body.

So what does that mean? If you struggle with your posture, with your pressing power, with your shoulder health, you need to be absolutely hammering as many face pulls as possible throughout your training week. For optimal shoulder health, your weekly pull to push programming ratios should break down to 3:1 for the average person, or up to 3+:1 if you sit for prolonged periods of time or have a body type of past injury history around the shoulders, neck or upper back. There is no one hard and fast ratio that works for everyone, it’s always case dependent.

In case you didn’t realize, that’s a shit ton of pulling, especially if you enjoy hitting the bench a few times a week. So how to we get in that much volume to ensure longevity in our shoulder health? Simple… add pain-free shoulder staple movements like the banded face pull into your normal programming in superset fashion.

Between sets of pressing or direct shoulder work, simply add in 5-15 reps of banded face pulls in a post-fatigue type setup in order to maximize the trainability of the upper back (working into those ratios) while not adding any more joint or CNS stress into the equation. Adding in banded face pulls throughout your dynamic warm up in superset schemes can also sky rocket your overall pulling volume, again without doing a ton more highly stressful pulling movements like rows, deadlifts or high angle vertical pulling.

Sprinkling in banded face pulls between your sets of direct shoulder work not only helps solidify your pain-free programming ratios, but they also will elicit the metabolic pump effect as well. Any time you can maximize the localized blood flow into the tissue to extend a set without adding any more joint stress, that’s called a win for long-term shoulder health. Try it, and I guarantee it will quickly become a training staple for you.

#3 Bands vs. Cable Face Pulls – Train BOTH

In reality, the tool in which you train the face pull may not be a choice, but rather a necessity. If you’re training predominantly in a home gym or box style setup that lacks cables and machines, the banded face pull will be the necessary variation of choice naturally due to equipment restriction. But does that mean that if you have cables in a commercial center or have a cable stack at your disposal you should never do banded face pulls? Absolutely not.

Like any other comparison of tools in the gym for a given movement, there are both pros and cons to each. Many of the pros for utilizing bands have been covered above (such as accommodating resistance, ability to pull apart etc) but lets remember that bands are cheap, easy to implement and fit into any gym bag. In my opinion, you aren’t serious about your training unless you have bands in your bag.

For those lifters who have access to everything, I prefer to use banded face pulls in the 6-Phase Dynamic Warm Up Sequence and ultra high rep sets where pump is the goal. For hypertrophy work with heavier loading, I prefer the cables and a myriad of different attachments to add novelty and variation. Depending on the goal at hand, there is an ideal face pull for every occasion.

If you do not have access to cables for heavier hypertrophy work, utilizing setups with multiple bands gives a unique feel that can stimulate growth and pump effects in the tissues while matching that goal more precisely. Simply use a lighter band anchored to a rack or upright and heavier bands through to create handles for yourself. Very simple, but very effective when equipment is limited for face pull variation.

#2 Close Your Eyes To Tap Into The Mind-Muscle Connection

I saved this face pull tip for last because honestly, it is a bit whacky. Yes, you read the headline correctly, closing your eyes during face pulls can enhance the feel of this movement pattern and allow you to better tap into your mind muscle connection. How? It’s all about sensory input into your system.

The mind-muscle connection isn’t just a mythical beast that gets talked about in bodybuilding circles only. It’s a real life neuromuscular phenomenon that many veteran lifters have inherently learned to tap into throughout their years mastering movements in the gym. But here’s the limiting factor of the MMC; you must know the muscle you’re volitionally trying to contract actually exists before you can reap the benefits of a highly impressionable nervous system.

During the face pull, the goal is to maximize the activation and MMC of the posterior delts and other intrinsic muscles of the upper back helping move the upper arms into horizontal abduction and external rotation. While there are nearly 20 scapular muscles that influence the movement of the shoulder blade, when it comes to improving MMC, we must focus on just one, the posterior delt.

This superficial muscle can be easily palpated; hence appreciating it’s existence in the human biomechanical system by even the simplest of meatheads. But with so much going on during a movement, we must be able to put first things first, and truly focus out mental energies on the feel of the muscle contracting on each peaking portion of the movement. Taking a huge sensory player out of the equation by simply closing your eyes can enhance this.

Without your visual fields in play, we have cut down on the amount of total sensory input feeding into your system during the movement. This gives us a better chance to improve mental acuity and focus. Give this tip some time to work, as it’s not something that happens overnight. Improving the MMC with the eyes closed technique is a skill that needs practicing, so it fits in great with the loads of volume that you’ll be putting through the face pull movement to keep your shoulders healthy.

#1 Build Face Pulls Into Your Lifestyle With 3:1 Pull:Push Ratios

Face pulls are great for so many reasons, but the reason why I am truly in love with this exercise is it’s ability to maximize trainability, minimize joint stress, all while negating many of the piss poor daily postural demands of our current societal lifestyles. When it comes to maximizing the risk to reward ratio, the face pulls are at the top of the list.

Face pulls, especially the banded variation, are so simple, easy and effective to setup and execute that I recommend all of my athletes and clients have a band with them at their work stations in order to get some reps in during the day to reset their movement systems between bouts of static sitting, standing or computer based work. Hell, I’ve had clients who worked as long haul truckers knock out face pulls at rest stops with the band attached to their rear view mirrors!

My general recommendation is to complete 10-15 banded face pull reps every hour that you spend sedentary, preferable in a strong standing position.  If you pair this with some glute iso-squeezes and a few minutes of walking, you have the perfect scenario for an effective multiple time a day postural reset.

Sure, this doesn’t sound like training, but it’s important to appreciate that all daily movements matter when it comes to long-term shoulder health and performance. I’ve had a huge amount of success rebuilding our client’s shoulders using a 3:1 pull to push ratio, and a 2:1 horizontal to vertical pull ratio. These take into account total reps (not exercises, not loads, not days of the week, literally I’ve heard it all, and it’s all misunderstood). We are talking about total reps on the system.

So if you knock out 10 reps of face pulls per hour and spend 10 hour working a day, you’re already at a surplus of 100 horizontal pull reps (remember face pulls are considered a horizontally driven pulling movement), and after a warm up like the Rusin Shoulder Triset you are at another 100 rep surplus of pulling reps.  Starting to see how your daily positions work into these ratios?

While face pulls or pull:push ratios alone will not (and aren’t meant to) FIX clinical pathologies of the shoulders, adhering to a steady movement diet of face pulls and horizontally driven pulling will help keep your upper back strong and shoulder joint more resilient against pain and injury. That’s the definition of pain-free training, and the true power of the preventative based movement model.

face pull

About The Author

dr john rusin

Dr. John Rusin is a sports performance specialist and injury prevention expert that has coached some of the world’s most elite athletes including multiple Olympic gold medalists, NFL & MLB All-Star performers, and professional athletes from 11 different sports. Dr. Rusin has also managed some of the most successful barbell sport athletes in the world including world record holding powerlifters, CrossFit Games athletes, and IFBB professional bodybuilders and physique athletes. His innovative pain-free performance programs have been successfully used by over 25,000 athletes, which has gained him the reputation as the go-to industry expert for rebuilding after pain, injuries or plateaus. Dr. Rusin is also the founder of the Pain-Free Performance Specialist Certification (PPSC) that has certified over 1500 personal trainers, strength coaches and rehab pros from across the globe in his methods over the past two years.

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  1. yeray October 1, 2019 at 3:23 pm - Reply

    Always learning from the BEST! Thanks John!

  2. Jared Ellis October 5, 2019 at 12:31 pm - Reply

    I was diagnosed with patella tendinitis/ tendiopathy over 5 years. I have been to PT twice, with short time results. I have tried decline eccentric squats and more glute and hamstrings exercises and have seen increase strength but still have pain, but only with jumping or running. Any and all suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you.

  3. Vlad October 7, 2019 at 10:51 pm - Reply

    I only use resistance bands for my Face Pulls because I’m not visiting the gym. Man, there are so great face pull ideas here that will 100% be tested! Thank you John. Another helpful and practical article that will come into use.

  4. Bozhidar October 13, 2019 at 5:01 am - Reply

    Very good article. I would really give a try the resistance bands variation. And the extra cool thing is that it can be done literally anywhere.

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