Banded Face Pull Alternatives

Banded face pulls are a great exercise to increase posterior shoulder strength, scapular stability, and enhance external rotation, all of which are necessary for proper shoulder performance for strength, power, and fitness athletes. In the below article we will showcase a variety of banded face pull alternatives that coaches and athletes can build into any training program to ensure proper movement integrity, muscular balance, and injury resistance for their athletes.

Why Do Banded Face Pulls

In an earlier article we discussed the banded face pull in great detail, specifically discussing a few benefits one can expect from performing them, which can be found here.

Banded Face Pull Alternatives

Below are some common face pull variations as well as some great face pull alternatives to increase posterior activation, scapular control, and strengthen the shoulders, rhomboids, and external rotators.

Cable Face Pull

Had to throw this no brainer in there because some people do not have bands and think it’s the end of the world. Fear not, as you can perform face pulls with cables by using a rope attachment to accomplish the same thing. You could even varying the pulling angle to build a better set of posterior shoulders, rhomboids, and external rotators.

TRX® Face Pull

Yep, same movement, just another piece of equipment. In addition to all the benefits of the cable and banded face pull, the TRX® Suspension Trainer offers a new loading stress, as time under tension is increased and muscular coordination and control of the total body must also adapt.

Mini-Band Shoulder Series

The same benefits and purpose of the banded face pull can be accomplished by various movements (very similar) using bands. In this series, which does included face pulls (although the other movements accomplish similar goals), the lifter performs various external rotations and posterior shoulder complex movements to bulletproof the scapular stabilizers and shoulder joint from injury.

Band Pull Aparts

Band pull aparts are very similar to face pulls, often a prerequisite to the face pull in that it requires scapular stabilization, retraction, and proper movement of the rhomboids and posterior shoulder. In the event are doing pull aparts, there is a strong chance that you can also perform face pulls, or at least mix them in here and there to diversify your shoulder corrective training.

Cable High Rows

Cable high rows are a great movement to increase rhomboid strength and coordination, teres major, and the upper back. While it may not hit the muscles involved in external rotation, it will help to stabilize the scapulae and shoulder girdle (strengthening the back, rhomboids, etc) which in turn can positively influence shoulder external rotation and control.


This is a drill that can be done with dumbbells, bands, or even body weight. It involves all of the same muscles as the banded face pull, however it includes a vast range of motion due to all three movements being combined into one complex. This is best done by lying face down on a incline bench, raising the hands in the movement to make the letter. Upgrade the movement by rotating the palms upwards/backwards (supination) to engage some more external rotators into the movement.

Corrective Exercise for Strength, Power, and Fitness Athletes

Before the PRs, heavy squats, and 400m intervals, corrective movements should be happening to ensure optimal readiness, balance, and movement integrity to increase performance output and minimize injury. Check out these articles below to upgrade your corrective exercise routine.

Featured Image: @chimundcatsfitness on Instagram

Mike Dewar

Mike Dewar

Mike holds a Master's in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Mike has been with BarBend since 2016, where he covers Olympic weightlifting, sports performance training, and functional fitness. He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and is the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at New York University, in which he works primarily with baseball, softball, track and field, cross country. Mike is also the Founder of J2FIT, a strength and conditioning brand in New York City that offers personal training, online programs for sports performance, and has an established USAW Olympic Weightlifting club.

In his first two years writing with BarBend, Mike has published over 500+ articles related to strength and conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, strength development, and fitness. Mike’s passion for fitness, strength training, and athletics was inspired by his athletic career in both football and baseball, in which he developed a deep respect for the barbell, speed training, and the acquisition on muscle.

Mike has extensive education and real-world experience in the realms of strength development, advanced sports conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, and human movement. He has a deep passion for Olympic weightlifting as well as functional fitness, old-school bodybuilding, and strength sports.

Outside of the gym, Mike is an avid outdoorsman and traveller, who takes annual hunting and fishing trips to Canada and other parts of the Midwest, and has made it a personal goal of his to travel to one new country, every year (he has made it to 10 in the past 3 years). Lastly, Mike runs Rugged Self, which is dedicated to enjoying the finer things in life; like a nice glass of whiskey (and a medium to full-bodied cigar) after a hard day of squatting with great conversations with his close friends and family.

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