Band Face Pulls High to Low
How to Do Standing Band Face Pulls - Rear Delts & Upper Back | In-Depth Guide [VISUAL LEARNERS] Beginner
Proper Form, Common Mistakes, & Variations + Easier | Home Resistance Training
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO SEE?
MUSCLES THIS WORKS
MAIN MUSCLES WORKED IN the Band Face Pull
Rear deltoid, infraspinatus, & teres minor
OTHER MUSCLES WORKED:
- Middle and Lower Trapezius
- Latissimus Dorsi
WHAT WE'RE DOING TODAY
WHAT & WHY
BENEFITS OF TRAINING THE Rear deltoid
WHAT WE'RE DOING TODAY
ALL WE'RE DOING:
Pulling a band towards our face. Thus the name face pull. Get it?
This band face pull exercise can be done at home without any special gym equipment. This easy shoulder face pulls variation is a great cable alternative, done with a resistance band instead, and can be done standing. This position is a good option for targeting the rear deltoids and the two rotator cuff muscles (infraspinatus and teres minor) that externally rotate the upper arm. It can help to build strength, stability, and balance in the shoulders, as well as improve posture.
WORK SOME OF OUR MOST IMPORTANT MUSCLES- POSTURAL MUSCLES
Face pulls are exactly what they sound like- pulling something towards our face.
This exercise works the muscles of the back of the shoulder (the rear delt) and the upper back. The arms are held high and pulled back against the resistance of an elastic band. The movement of the arm comes from a combination of moving the shoulder blades and pulling the arms back. The shoulder blades move around the ribcage, in towards the spine - squeezing in to work the muscles of the upper back.
The back portion of the deltoid muscle, which lies on the back of the shoulder, works to pull the upper arm back. Towards the end of the movement, the upper arm rotates backward, you will feel a nice contraction in the back of the shoulder. These are the two main functions of the rear portion of the deltoid muscle - pulling the arm back and rotating it - so that the soft, underside of the arm turns to face up.
These are nice exercises to reverse the negative effects of too much sitting and working with our arms in front of us. Face pulls are really good for strengthening the muscles of the upper back and shoulder but they are also really good for stretching out the chest muscles. If you have a desk job, try taking a band to work, find a high place that you can anchor it and do a few face pulls throughout the day.
WHY BOTHER DOING IT?
WHY DO WE EVEN CARE?
INCREASE OUR PULLING STRENGTH & GET BEAUTIFUL SHOULDERS
- Training rear delts does give a nice rounded appearance to our shoulders.
- Strengthening the back of our shoulder can help to increase our pulling strength, especially when our arms are further away from our bodies - like reaching out to the side of you like a corner kitchen cabinet to pull a heavier item off a shelf or to hold a heavy item with our arms away from our sides (I often have to do this in order to get said large item to clear the floor) - the ideal way to help move a heavy desk would be to keep my arms close to my body where more of my upper body muscles can help out, but being the short little person I am, I often have to bend my arms & hold them up high to hold my end of the desk off the ground.
REVERSE COMMON TIGHTNESS ON THE FRONT OF OUR UPPER BODY
The muscles of the upper back and the back of the shoulder are frequently overlooked during workouts. Some people joke that that is because you can’t see them in the mirror. Unfortunately, you can see the results when these muscles are neglected. Stooped posture is a common sign of aging, beginning as early as 40 years of age, and increasing dramatically after 60. The changes are most notable in the thoracic spine - the upper back. The thoracic spine becomes more rounded, which leads to the shoulder blades moving forward (protraction) which causes the shoulders to be rounded and the arms to turn inward.
Exercising the muscles on the front of the upper body (biceps, pectoralis, anterior deltoid), or tightness of those muscles due to long periods of sitting, driving, computer work, cooking (most of our daily activities) can encourage the upper back and arms to round forward. These changes interfere with the healthy movement of the shoulder joint, and can lead to loss of motion, weakness, and pain. There is a lot that you can do to prevent these changes. Exercising the muscles of the back will help balance this out to improve the health of the shoulder joint and your posture.
IMPROVE THORACIC SPINE MOBILITY
There’s also this thing with our upper back - our thoracic spine - a tendency towards a forward curve & stiffness in this area of our back. Face pulls can help reverse this issue - working on being able to get movement through our upper back to get back some of that flexibility as well by actively pulling back against resistance & strengthening the muscle's ability to do that.
Face pulls can help prevent the changes in posture by working the upper back out of the forward curve (thoracic extension), strengthening the muscles that pull the shoulder blades back (retraction), and rotating the upper arm back. This movement trains and strengthens the muscles of the upper back, rotator cuff, and rear deltoid to improve upright posture and shoulder movement. This exercise focuses on pulling the arms back, and then externally rotating the arms - this helps to work the upper back towards extension (to counter daily activities that encourage rounding the spine forward. The movement will also stretch the muscles that pull the arms forward.
EVERYDAY LIFE &
HOW WE USE OUR Rear delt IN EVERYDAY LIFE
1. STABILIZES THE SHOULDER (REAR DELTOID, INFRASPINATUS AND TERES MINOR)
- Keeps the head of the humerus centered in the socket (glenoid fossa)
- Pushing up from the floor
- Carrying, especially heavy loads
- Helps to prevent damage to the shoulder joint- wear and tear over time due to poor movement patterns
2. MOVES THE ARM BACK (REAR DELTOID ONLY)
- Reaching behind the back
- Pulling items towards you
- Reaching into the back seat
3. HELPS TO MAINTAIN UPRIGHT POSTURE (REAR DELTOID)
4. EXTERNAL ROTATION OF THE UPPER ARM (REAR DELTOID, INFRASPINATUS AND TERES MINOR)
- Putting your hand in the back pocket (palm down)
- Turning outstretched arm with palm up for receiving change
- Catching a ball
- Reaching the back of your head
- washing/brushing/drying hair
This version of the face pull exercise is done in standing, using a band anchored high in front of you. The rear portion of the deltoid muscles works to pull the arms back, and at the end of the movement, the upper arm is rotated (hands move back) to really hit the rear deltoid. The standing position will work the muscles of the core and legs.
HOW TO FEEL WHAT MUSCLE IS WORKING
How to Feel What Muscle is Working
Stand with your back against the wall, arms at 70 - 80 degrees of shoulder abduction, and 90 degrees of elbow flexion. Place the back of the upper arms and forearms on the wall. Push back with the upper arm and the hands into the wall. You should be able to feel the muscles between the shoulder blades, and the back of the shoulders work.
HOW TO DO THE EXERCISE
HOW Face Pulls SHAPE OUR BODY
Good posture; balanced capped shoulders.
PROPER FORM: Standing BAND Face PullS
EQUIPMENT, SETS & REPS
SUGGESTED STARTING WEIGHT FOR WOMEN:
Light to moderate resistance bands
SETS & REPS:
2 sets of 8 reps
Moderate pull back and slow return to the starting position
BODY POSITION FOR THE Band Face Pull
BAND: Anchor the band 4-6 inches above your head or head height can be okay too.
FEET: Shoulder width or slightly wider, toes straight ahead.
BODY STANCE: Knees slightly bent. Neutral spine. Sternum lifted. Abdominals gently engaged. Hips and shoulders should be squared to the front. Shoulders stacked over hips - should be able to draw a line down through your shoulders and hips (not leaning back).
ARMS: Arm lifted up so your upper arms are in line (70 -90 degrees of flexion) or just lower than your shoulders. Elbows bent so hands are slightly wider than elbow width apart or hands right in line with elbows (70 -90 degrees of elbow flexion). Stand so the band is just taut. Your hands should be around nose level.
HAND/GRIP: One end of the band in each hand. Neutral grip on band, palms facing inward, and thumbs pointed backward.
Notes from Carol: It may seem counterintuitive but putting the anchor higher can help to decrease upper trap activity - because you will be pulling down and back - the activity of the scapular depressors will inhibit the upper trap.
Rayzel: For some reason felt better when anchored lower & elbows lower- otherwise upper traps seemed to be very active for a time.
Notes from Carol: I am guessing that when the elbows are a little lower you are able to get more retraction and external rotation.
Maybe if you think about really pulling down first to depress the scapula and then retracting? Don't know - just a guess.
HOW TO DO
HOW TO DO Band Face Pulls - High to Low
CUE: Try to feel the movement of your shoulder blades as your arms move back and rotate.
Pull your arms back, your shoulder blades will move back and down.
Pull your elbows back keeping them at shoulder height or slightly lower the entire time, then rotate your forearm back.
The beginning of the arm movement should feel like you are leading with your elbows but once your elbows are in line with your shoulders your hands should be leading the movement as they pass by your ears.
Keep moving your shoulder blades, elbows, and hands backward until you reach the end of your range.
Return to the starting position by reversing the movements with slow control.
HOW TO SAFELY GET OUT OF THE EXERCISE
From the starting position, release the band.
WHAT TO AVOID WITH THE Band Face Pull
Guess what? Good news! Many avoids are the same for most movements. Once you learn the basics, there's really only a few extra avoids for each individual movement.
1. Avoid Arching Low Back
AVOID: Arching your low back when you pull the band back.
- This can strain the low back.
- Will decrease the work done by the muscles of the upper back.
WHAT TO DO:
- Make sure that the knees are not locked.
- Activate the abdominal muscles to hold the spine in neutral.
2. Avoid Leaning Back
AVOID: Leaning back.
- This will decrease the work being done by the muscles of the arms and upper back.
- This is a common way the brain will try to make the exercise easier - using your body weight to pull the band back by leaning backward.
WHAT TO DO:
- Keep the shoulders over the hips, over the feet.
- Bend the knees slightly and activate your core muscles.
3. Avoid Too Much Resistance
AVOID: Using too much resistance
- Heavier is not better - it will limit the range of motion (you won’t be able to get the upper arm into external rotation).
- The part of this exercise that works the targeted muscles the most is at the end - the external rotation after shoulder extension- it is also where there is the most tension on the band.
WHAT TO DO:
- Use a lighter band and stand closer to the anchor.
4. Avoid Elbows Dropping Too Low
AVOID: Letting the elbows drop as you pull the arms back.
- Letting the arms drop will decrease the activation of the scapular retractors and the latissimus dorsi will be more active.
WHAT TO DO:
- The hands should be around nose level as they get by your ears.
5. Avoid Elbows Bending Too Much
AVOID: Bending the elbow more than 90 degrees.
- This will decrease the lever arm - move the resistance closer to the shoulder joint, so the muscles will not need to work as hard.
WHAT TO DO:
- Keep the hands in line with the elbows or wider.
VARIATIONS OF Band Face Pulls
Skip External Rotation
Skip External Rotation
You can do this movement with just the pulling backwards motion, and skip the 2nd half of the exercise- this will allow you to use stronger resistance. That said, you should still do exercises that also trains our arms ability to externally rotate the arm.
MAKE IT EASIER
MAKE THE Band Face Pull MORE DOABLE
Bend Elbows More
Bend Elbows More
Allowing the elbows to bend more than 90 degrees can be a good technique to use if you are not quite strong enough. This will decrease the lever arm (how far your hand is from the shoulder joint) so it will be easier to externally rotate the upper arm.
SeateD on chair
chair Seated Face Pulls
Seated is always nice- uses less core muscles if you need to reduce the difficulty level or fatigue factor.
Stability Ball Seated Face Pulls
A little less stable than being seated on a chair, but a little easier than being in standing. Also good if you need to anchor your band lower.
SPIFFILICIOUS FACTS ABOUT MUSCLES & MOVES
The movement of your arm would be very limited If you were to move just the arm or just the shoulder blade. The socket that the arm bone moves in is like a small cup on the shoulder blade. When you let your shoulders slouch, the cup is angled forward. You can feel this if you slouch, your upper arm will round forward. In order to get the arm behind the back, you have to angle the cup so that the arm can get to the back. From a slouched position, lift your arm to the side and try moving it behind your back. Now pull your shoulder blade back. Moving the shoulder blade back angles the cup to the side of the body. You should be able to move the arm further back. If the arm moves back without angling the cup out to the side, not only will it restrict your movement, it can irritate the soft tissues and the joint, causing damage over time.
The rear deltoids function is horizontal abduction/extension (lifting the arm up and moving it backwards), and external rotation (rotating the upper arm up) of the shoulder joint. The rear deltoid works with the other parts of the deltoid muscle to stabilize the shoulder joint by positioning the head of the humerus (upper arm bone) in the center of the socket. The rear deltoid helps hold the shoulders back to limit rounded shoulder posture. The mid trapezius and rhomboids work together to pull the shoulder blades back from a protracted position. Retraction of the shoulder blade changes the position o f the “socket” portion (the glenoid fossa) of the shoulder blade.
ALLLL MUSCLES & WHEN
ALL MUSCLES WORKING & WHEN DURING THE Band Face Pull - High to Low
The muscles of the legs and core will be active to hold the body still as the band is pulled back.
The beginning of the movement is initiated by scapular retraction (mid trap and rhomboids) and depression (lower traps) as the shoulder blades are pulled inwards (towards the spine), and the rear deltoids move the arms horizontally into extension. The middle deltoid assists to hold the arm up in abduction. Once the arm is in line with the body the rear deltoid, infraspinatus, and teres minor (2 rotator cuff muscles) externally rotate the upper arm.