A broad back and strong shoulders can be some of the most important components to a healthy body—but the muscle groups can be tough to work, since your shoulder joints are delicate mechanisms. Far too many guys wind up out of the gym with shoulder injuries after pushing themselves beyond their capacities, so it pays to train smart.
Enter the face pull. The move is one of those underrated exercises you’re probably not doing often—or at all. But you should definitely be making it a part of your regular upper-body routine because of it’s simplicity and effectiveness, and it also makes a great warmup to bulletproof your shoulders.
You probably do a lot of pushing exercises at the gym (think: bench presses and pushups), so the face pull is a great way to balance all of that pushing out with some pulling. The move is easier to perform than pullups, and safer for your shoulder joints than many other back and shoulder options. You’ll work your traps, rear delts, rotator cuffs, and mid-back muscles as well as prevent against injuries.
Check out the video above to learn perfect face pull form. For this version of the exercise, you’ll need a cable machine with a rope attachment.
Try to start out with low weight, working to maintain posture and form. Add the exercise to your upper body and back days with 4 sets of 10 to 15 reps.
Add Exercise Bands
If you don’t have access to a cable machine—or if you just want to switch up the equipment—you can also use a resistance band to perform face pulls.
The low-impact option will allow you to really emphasize the squeeze in your shoulder blades. If you don’t have a band handy, check out this one from WODFitters.
Watch below as Men’s Health Fitness Director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., demonstrates how exactly how to perform the move with the band. Again, notice how he uses an overhand position to grip the bands, with his thumbs facing up.
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you pull the band:
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