Exercise Profile
  • Target Muscle Group
  • Exercise TypeStrength
  • Equipment RequiredCable
  • MechanicsCompound
  • Force TypePull (Bilateral)
  • Experience LevelBeginner
  • Secondary Muscles
    Traps, Upper Back
Target Muscle Group


Shoulders Muscle Anatomy Diagram

Cable Face Pull with External Rotation Overview

The cable face pull with external rotation is a variation of the cable face pull and a great shoulder exercise that can be used to target the rear deltoids. Not many exercises can effectively target the rear delts like cable face pull can.

The rear delt is often a lagging muscle group for many lifters and weak rear delts can result in poor posture, thus performing the cable face pull with external rotation (or other rear delt exercises) is highly recommended.

Add the cable face pull exercise in your body part split on either shoulder or back day, on your upper day during your upper/lower splits, or on your pull day for push/pull/leg splits.

Cable Face Pull with External Rotation Instructions

  1. Assume a split stance with the arms straight out in front of you utilizing a neutral grip (palms facing).
  2. Inhale and pull the rope towards your face with the elbows high.
  3. As the end of the rope approaches your face, pull the ends apart and drive the elbows back.
  4. Slowly lower the rope back to the starting position and repeat for the desired number of repetitions on both sides.

Cable Face Pull with External Rotation Tips

  1. If you find yourself leaning back or arching your back as you pull, utilize a half kneeling stance.
  2. As you pull, ensure the elbows stay high and the rope remains at eye level.
  3. Focus on contracting the rear delts and ensure you don’t jut the head forward to meet the rope.
  4. Ensure you set the cable at face height rather than at the top of the machine as this may over recruit the lats and negate some of the scapular upward rotation benefits.
  5. Don’t rely upon momentum, keep the motion smooth and controlled from start to finish.
  6. If no rope attachment is available, you can still complete the exercise using 2 regular handles or a band.