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Face Pulls for Improving Posture

Hi everybody,

I would like to start incorporating face pulls for the purpose of improving my posture. I tried them for the first time out of curiosity and I could really feel it working the same muscles that get tired when I try to stand with good posture all day. My upper back used to be very rounded, which I’ve corrected, but my shoulders are still internally rotated (although less than they used to be) and my head drifts forward a bit.

What is the ideal frequency, set/rep scheme, and intensity for face pulls when the goal is improving posture? I’d especially like to hear from you if you have used them (either on yourself or with clients) successfully.

Also, to clear a couple other things up:
-I am aware that there are articles on T-nation about face pulls. I’ve read them. I would also like to hear from more people before I decide exactly how I will program them.
-I would take pictures to show you what I’m talking about and maybe get some before/after photos, but my camera broke yesterday.
-I am aware that it will take more than just incorporating face pulls to fully fix my posture. I’ve used and still use other exercises, corrective exercises, and mobility work and have made very noticeable improvements so far (people ask me if I’m taller).

Thanks in advance!

I do face-pulls virtually every time I enter a gym, and band pull-aparts everyday at work. I prefer lightweight & very high (25-50) reps/set, really focusing on peak contraction.

More=better isn’t true for many things lifting-wise, but if it’s true for anything it’s face-pulls/upper back work.

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This will be where 99% of your improvement will cone from. As well as being conscious about maintaining good posture throughout the day.

With that in mind, dont worry too much about the face pulls. Do a hundred however you can fit it in.

I’ve started doing Ws on the TRX instead of face pulls. I feel it way more in my external rotators

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These little moves feel great at first. Then, after awhile, you get used to them and they don’t feel so great. So you rotate to the next one.

For posture, don’t forget those shrugs!

Holding a rope handle so the peak position basically looks like a double biceps pose (palms, not back of hands, facing the ears at the midpoint). Done as the first exercise of the workout, at least twice a week. Before every training session would be fine, the more frequent, you could get away with a bit less volume.

3-4x8-10 holding the peak contraction for at least a 3-count. I’ve gone as high as a 5-count for sets of 12-15 to really hammer things down. The idea being that the postural muscles need stability to reinforce good position and respond well to a higher time under tension.

Like the guys said though, posture is as much a skill (that can be practiced and improved) as it is a physical attribute to be trained. “Walk like you’re wearing a cape” is my go-to cue throughout the day.

And other exercises can be just as effective for internal shoulder rotation. LYTPs and cable cuban presses in particular.

Do as many as you can. I’ve yet to meet anyone with overtrained rhomboids.


This gives me a chance to do my favourite thing - sound like I know more than I do.

Overtrained rhomboids? Not so much. Over-active rhomboids, however, is a very real thing, and comes from having the classic shitty shoulder posture we’ve all got.

That’s why I’m a fan of setting my face pull rope a little lower and pulling it to a little higher up the face (nose as opposed to throat). Trains a bit more upward rotation of the scap, which will take some of the heat off your rhomboids.

Scapular upward rotation is, in my limited experience, a missing link in most people’s shoulder rehab protocol. Everyone does tons of rows and other such scapular retraction work, which is great, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle.

So… yeah. It ain’t all about them rhomboids, y’know. Strengthening your serratus is a must, too. The best way to do that is to juggle cats.

Lol - jokes. Do scap push ups.

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Sometimes I do those scap pushups gripping the shit out of a barbell.

The easiest way is to put the bar in the Smith Machine all the way to the bottom.