T Nation

Alternative to Face Pull?


Been doing face pulls (cable station, using rope handle, pulling with high elbows) for a while and have maxed out the weight on the cable stack. I have just been upping the reps but it's getting ridiculous, and I want to find an alternative that is similarly good for scapular health/upper back stuff.



You ever do them where you do seated cable rows? There is no way in hell you'll ever max out that stack.

Another thing you can think about is going ultra high rep. Everything you're hitting on this movement (ext. rotators, rear delts, traps) all respond well to a great time under tension. You can also shift focus on slower, stricter, controlled reps, or holding peak contraction for 3 sec on each rep. There are more ways to increase intensity than just the amount of weight you use.


I've been doing 'em standing. Easy change might be to do the movement seated. I'm due to do face pulls in tomorrow's workout, so I'll try the seated variation. I mentioned maxing the stack because my current training is way lower rep, strength-oriented...big compound moves in the 3-6 rep range. Occasionally some accessory stuff in 6-9, but I can do the full stack (150) standing for face pulls up at 15-17 reps with strict form, one foot in front for balance but torso as vertical as I can get it. Pulling right to my chin.

Anyway, thanks for the seated suggestion. I'll try that.


Band Pull Aparts are nice. 5 x 20 throughout the day, or all at once.


deFranco's scarecrow exercise is pretty cool too.


Reverse Pec Deck
John Meadows Incline Bench Rear Delt Destroyers
Inline Bench Y's / T's / I's
Defranco "blackburns"
Seated DB Clean and Press
Rear Fly
Cable Rear Fly
Inverted Rows (rowing to the collar bone)
Blast Strap Face-pulls
Band Pull aparts

That should keep you busy...


pull them higher...to the ears at the lowest

also try doing them in the lat pulldown station or seated row


I love these, and do them for several sets of high reps (15+)


You say your pulling 150, which I dont doubt' but with strict form? Correct me if I am wrong but doesnt the face pull terminate with full external rotation of the humerus with shoulder abduction at 90 degrees much like a rear double biceps pose. I would inagine if this were the case you are either one strong bastard or the movement for you has evolved into a very high row with little external rotation.

Anyway to further increase the loading of the external rotators, the lever arm can be altered by increasing the angle at the elbow i.e. pull towards your forehead while pulling the rope apart with the cable height set higher than usual preferably head height or slightly above.


Reverse Shrugs in the dip station - lower traps & serratus anterior, a very do-able exercise



I do 1 set of 40, 30, 20, 15 and 12 twice a week of these.


Lol i really cant take preist seriously with all those tats on the face.


Damn! Well it certainly is working for ya', Delta!

I gotta try that!



Thanks brother.

Facepulls actually makes my shoulders feel like shit, I figured there would be better ways to train rear delts and other ways to do external rotations.

Mega high rep shit is awesome for developing a mmc.