Cable face pull exercise
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Cable face pull

Exercise details

  • Target muscle: Posterior Deltoid
  • Synergists: Lateral Deltoid, Infraspinatus, Teres Minor, Middle and Lower Trapezius, Brachialis, Brachioradialis
  • Mechanics: Compound
  • Force: Pull

Starting position

  1. Stand in front of a pulley set at approximately head height.
  2. Grasp one end of the rope attachment in each hand using a supinated (underhand) grip.
  3. Step backward so that the rope is taut and your arms are stretched out in front of you.
  4. Assume a staggered stance (place one foot in front of the other) and lean backward to help you balance.


  1. Exhale as you pull the rope toward your forehead.
  2. As the rope nears your face, externally rotate your shoulders so that you end up making a double biceps pose.
  3. Hold for a count of two.
  4. Inhale as you reverse the motion and return the rope to the starting position in a controlled manner.
  5. Repeat.

Comments and tips

  • Keep the flexing of your elbows to a minimum. This will keep as much movement as possible in your shoulders, where it belongs.
  • Avoid swaying back and forth to complete the reps. Keep the movement in your shoulders.
  • Don’t go too heavy, as this often leads to swaying.
  • The cable face pull is one of the most beneficial exercises for your shoulders, which is why it’s included in every training program on this website. Many popular training programs strengthen your internal shoulder rotators (i.e. your pectoralis major, latissimus dorsi, teres major, anterior deltoid, and subscapularis) much more than your external shoulder rotators (i.e. your posterior deltoid, infraspinatus, and teres minor). In fact, exercises that include external shoulder rotation are often completely neglected! This can lead to a strength imbalance between the opposing muscle groups, which can result in shoulder joint instability and injuries. The cable face pull is one of few exercises that effectively strengthens all of your external shoulder rotators, thus promoting shoulder health.
  • The face pull can also be performed with dumbbells. See the bent-over dumbbell face pull video below.
  • Other exercises targeting the posterior deltoid are the inverted rear delt row, the one-arm reverse dumbbell fly, and the cable rear drive.
  • To target the lateral deltoids instead, try the cable one-arm lateral raise or the cable Y-raise.


Cable face pull

Bent-over dumbbell face pull

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