Great Bodyweight Face Pull Variation

Posted on by Ben Bruno

Anyone that reads this blog with any regularity knows I’m a huge fan of inverted rows. One of my favorite versions of this exercise is the inverted face pull. Like the name suggests, it’s just a face pull done with bodyweight using suspension straps.

I have mentioned inverted face pulls before, but in the past few months, I have tweaked the way I am doing them so I wanted to talk about them again and show what I’m doing now. Before I say anything, here is how they look in action.

The main difference is that I’m using a narrow grip than I was before. This may seem inconsequential, but it has made a big difference. With a wider grip, I was finding it was becoming an upper trap exercise, rather than working the muscles I want to work (mid and lower traps, rear delts, etc.). Treat it just like a face pull that you’d see done using cables.

I have also slowed the motion down a little bit and done the reps with complete control. Face pulls should not really be a big strength exercise. You’re trying to work the smaller muscles. When you go too heavy and use momentum, the prime movers take over and don’t let those smaller muscles do the work. As such, I’ve dropped the weight and made sure I’m in complete control. A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to pause at the top of any rep on command. If you feel it in your biceps and not your upper back, it’s too hard.

I recommend starting with your feet on the ground (possibly even with knees bent) and the straps set a bit shorter until you feel comfortable. From there, you can progress by lengthening the straps, elevating the feet, and finally, adding a light weight vest.

Give it a try and see how you like it.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Ben,

    Great blog! Your website has become my one-point stop for new articles and exercise clips!

    Since I work out in my basement, I have been using the BW version of the face pull, too.

    I have found that there is a grip variation that places less stress on the wrists and facilitates more external rotation: Use two triceps ropes and grip them "upside down" (i. e. pinky side of the hand facing upwards, thumb side down). The starting position may seem a little strange, but it really helps to emphasize the external rotation in the contracted position.

    Greetings from Germany,

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