Face Pull (Machine)

by NSCA's Exercise Technique Manual for Resistance Training, 3rd Edition
Kinetic Select March 2020

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This excerpt from NSCA's Exercise Technique Manual for Resistance Training, 3rd Edition demonstrates the proper technique for the face pull exercise on a cable machine.

The following is an exclusive excerpt from the book Exercise Technique Manual for Resistance Training-3rd Edition With Online Video, published by Human Kinetics. All text and images provided by Human Kinetics.

Starting Position

  • Stand facing a high-pulley cable machine and grasp a rope handle with a closed, pronated grip and the palms facing the floor.
  • Step back far enough from the machine so there is tension on the cable when the arms are fully extended in front of the face with the elbows pointing out to the sides. Use a parallel foot stance with flexed knees to create a stable body position.
  • Check that the head is in line with the spine and the torso is fully erect.
  • All repetitions begin from this position.

Starting Position

Backward Movement

  • Begin the exercise by first retracting the scapulae with the elbows still fully extended.
  • Pull the handle toward the face by horizontally abducting the shoulders and flexing the elbows.
  • When the upper arms become aligned with the frontal plane at the shoulders, externally rotate the upper arms and continue the backward movement until the center clasp of the handle comes close to the face.

Forward Movement

  • Allow the upper arms to internally rotate, the elbows to extend, the shoulders to horizontally adduct, and the scapulae to protract back to the starting position.
  • Maintain the same head, torso, and body position throughout the movement.
  • At the completion of the set, move forward to return the weight stack to a resting position.

Backward and forward movements

Exercise Technique Manual for Resistance Training, Third Edition With Online Video, explains 70 resistance training exercises with step-by-step instructions, photos, and online video demonstrations. The book is available in bookstores everywhere, as well as online at the NSCA Store.

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