The Best Exercise For Shoulder Health That You Should Be Doing (But Probably Aren’t)
Fix your posture, grow your delts & heal your shoulders!
What the heck are face pulls? If you’ve ever been treated for a shoulder injury at Ascent Chiropractic there’s a good chance you know all about them. But if you’ve never done them before, face pulls just might be one of the best-kept workout secrets.
Face pulls are a simple exercise with huge benefits for shoulder health and stability. We’ll go through how to correctly do the exercise in a moment (as always form is important), but the general idea is to use a cable machine or exercise band and pull towards your face.
Hence, face pulls. Simple.
Why should you be doing face pulls?
If you’re a typical gym-goer, you probably do a lot of pushing – think bench presses, overhead presses and chest flyes. After all, who doesn’t love chest day, right?
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with push days, if you want to prevent shoulder injuries it’s a good idea to balance the number of ‘push’ exercises you perform with an equal – or greater – number of ‘pull’ exercises. Overemphasizing push exercises can result in internal rotation of the shoulder joint, not only causing rounded-shoulder posture but putting you at risk for labrum tears, rotator cuff problems, bursitis and other shoulder injuries.
To compensate, it’s essential to be regularly strengthening the muscles involved in scapular retraction (moving your shoulder blades down and back) and external shoulder rotation.
Enter face pulls.
In addition to the structural and health benefits of face pulls, they’re also a great exercise for growing the rear deltoids and rhomboids – two commonly-neglected muscle groups. In fact, face pulls are a staple in almost all of the training programs I give my patients.
How to perform them?
Like any other exercise, you need to be using the correct form to get the most benefit. You’ll need either a cable machine with a rope attachment or an elastic exercise band. The height of the cable or band attachment should be slightly above the top of your head.
- Hold the rope/band with an overhand (externally rotated) grip, with your thumbs up.
- Keep your feet shoulder-width apart, activating your core and glutes. Puff your chest out.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together to pull the rope/band toward your ears.
- Hold the position for 1-2 seconds.
- Return to the starting position, making sure to keep your shoulders up.
This is not an exercise to be ego-lifting; you want to be able to perform it comfortably and with correct form, so select a weight accordingly.
How to incorporate face pulls into your workout?
The muscles of the upper back have a high degree of fatigue resistance – it’s easier to train them more often than some other muscles, as they recover well. Due to this, face pulls can quite easily slot into any workout program, even if it’s a high-frequency program. It’s a low-impact, high-benefit exercise that can be super-setted with other movements without compromising them or your workout length.
My suggestion? For every bench press set you do per week, do an equal number of sets of face pulls in the 10-12 rep range.
Dealing with nagging gym injuries that just won’t go away? Make sure you’re getting adjusted!
Whether you’re a pro athlete or weekend warrior, study after study shows that regular chiropractic care is an essential part of reaching your full potential in the gym. Need a Brookfield chiropractor? To make an appointment at Ascent Chiropractic, call 262-345-4166 or schedule an appointment with our online scheduling app.