Some exercises just don’t get the respect and spotlight they deserve. The banded face pull is one of them, an unsung hero done before heavy bench press sessions, in warm-up areas before National weightlifting meets, or in the bullpen after pitching a no hitter. You see, some exercises are done day in and day out with little recognition yet provide us with a sense of structural support and rehabilitation powers to enable us to train harder every single day.
In this article we will discuss the banded face pull and all that it has to offer us as strength, power, and fitness athletes.
The banded face pull is a movement that targets a specific set of muscles, most of which are smaller in size and are assistance muscles to greater more voluminous muscle units (such as the shoulders and back). Below is a listing of some of the muscles targeted by the banded face pull.
- Rear Deltoids
- External Rotators (Infraspinatus and Teres Minor)
Banded Face Pull Exercise Demo
Below is an exercise demo that shows how to properly perform the banded face pull, with specific focus on scapular stability and control.
Why Do Them?
Below are a few reasons why every strength, power, and fitness athlete can benefit from performing banded face pulls at some point in their training
Better Shoulder Health
As a whole, this movement can be done to prepare for pressing days, overhead workouts, or simply to bulletproof a very vulnerable yet highly critical joint (the shoulder) for all strength, power, and fitness athletes. By improving general shoulder health, movement mechanics, and increased muscular control and strength, we can work towards minimizing injury due to muscle imbalances or poor movement mechanics at the shoulder joint and surrounding areas.
Increased Scapular Stability
Scapular instability can lead to a slew of issues for strength, power, and fines athletes, as we are often asked to hoist large, heavy, and sometimes bone crushing loads overhead. Without proper scapular stability in such movements like jerks, snatches, bench presses, and max effort circus presses, our shoulder joints could be doomed. While banded face pulls are not 100% effective at preventing injury from training and/or competition, they can be done to increase muscular development (see below), increase neurological feedback (see below), and increase shoulder joint function and health.
Enhanced Neurological Feedback
When we develop better movement patterns as a result of training smaller, more finite motor units, (in congruence with large gross motor patterns), we can work to increase neurological feedback, which helps us receive information and control movement at smaller levels (often involuntarily). This is highly beneficial and often needed for many strength, power, and fitness athletes during intense training and competition as these are the types of muscles and movements that often result in injury when not trained properly and/or neglected.
Upper Shoulder and Back Strength
When all’s said and done, increasing the above attributes will often result in greater shoulder and back health and development. Over time, the ability to train continually injury free and recover from each session will result in more reps performed, more muscle mass created, and a snowball effect of positive performance.
Sets x Reps
Generally speaking, banded face pulls are done with light to moderate tension for moderate to higher reps (8-20 reps). When performing these, whether in a warm-up, prehabilitation/rehabilitation setting, or simply to increase hypertrophy and control, more precise movements and controlled contractions may be best rather than high loading and few reps. This is not to say, however, that banded face pulls cannot be done with heavier loads; rather simply pointing out the the smaller muscles groups used in this movement often do not promote as much force output as larger muscles groups and movements.
Joint and Movement Health Articles
Check out these articles to increase joint health, movement integrity, and more.
Featured Image: @coach_ant44 on Instagram
Editor’s Note: Multi-time Reebok CrossFit Games athlete and BarBend reader Marcus Filly had this to say after reading the above article:
Face Pulls need to be a part of your training program. The strength and stability benefits to the upper back have direct translation to countless functional fitness movements. Handstand Push-Ups, Jerks, and Overhead Squats just to name a few. Additionally, a well developed upper back and shoulder girdle is a great aesthetic and when you want to #lookgoodmovewell, face pulls benefit both. Over at functional bodybuilding we love the Seated Sled Drag Face Pull version.