Exercise of the Week: Cable Pull Through

The Cable Pull Through is a great exercise to help strengthen the posterior muscles, the hamstrings and glutes.  If you desire to become more athletic, aesthetic, or fix muscle imbalances then direct glute and hamstring work is imperative.  The best way to get the most bang for your buck is variation and the Cable Pull Through will give you just that.  So throw it into your leg day or substitute it here and there in place of deadlifts, kettlebell swings or any other hip dominant movement to keep your training new, challenging, and progressing forward.

To perform a Pull-Through, you need to hip hinge—a fundamental athletic movement.  Learning how to hip hinge will allow you to move from your hips rather than your lower back reducing risk of injury.  Once you have the hip hinge mastered then move on to adding resistance and performing exercises such as the Cable Pull Through.


There are numerous benefits to the Cable Pull Through.

Constant Level of Tension – Unlike the deadlift or kettlebell swing, you have to maintain a constant level of tension in the body in the lowering portion of the lift.  You have a cable that wants to pull back.  By resisting this constant pull, you will be working your muscles through the entire range of motion of the lift from start to back.  In the deadlift and kettlebell swing, it is normal to ease up and miss this part of the lift by dropping the weight from the top portion of the deadlift or relaxing as the kettlebell swings back down.  Going slow in the lowering portion of the deadlift and kettlebell swing may also increase risk of injury, so I do not suggest it.

Easy on the Back – If you have back issues then squatting and deadlifting can be a big no-no.  Especially if form is not ideal.  The Cable Pull Through will allow you to activate the hips without putting a lot of load on the spine.

Teaches You to Use Your Hips – Learning to use your hips is something that needs to be retaught for most.  I see my three year old son using his hips all the time, then a older client comes in and has no idea how to get that part of their body to move.  Everything they do moves from the back or the knees.  They totally lose ability to move from their hips!

So the Cable Pull Through will help you practice instilling this basic movement pattern back into everyday life and get you stronger in the process, which means less lower back, knee, and hip pain.

Then maybe with perfect hip hinge form, maybe, deadlifts will be a possibility in your future.


Great Accessory Movement – Already a pro at deadlifting? Then Cable Pull Throughs can be used as an accessory exercise to help you get a great pump in those butt cheeks.



The How To….

  1.  With your back to a cable machine, stand with your feet hip-width part or a little more.  Wider than usual.  Push the knees out to create tension and more glute recruitment as you prepare to pull the weight.
  2. Hold the rope attachment in front of your hips with the cable traveling through your legs.
  3. Bend at the waist and sit your hips back until your torso is at a 45-degree angle. Do not bend the knees and go into a squat.  Think of it as a back and forth motion.
  4. Do not let the lower back arch or upper back “round” as the rope attachment comes through your legs.
  5. Keep your neck in alignment throughout the entire movement.  You do not need to check yourself out in the mirror.  The neck should stay in a “packed” position and follows the upper body as one segment.
  6. Explosively extend your hips to stand up to the starting position.  Do not hyperextend the hips or lower back.  Give those glutes a good squeeze as you stand back up.
Photo Credit: askthetrainer.com

Photo Credit: askthetrainer.com

When to Do It?

Do not make Cable Pull Throughs your number one strength exercise for the day.  It will work a lot better as an accessory exercise on your lower body day or glute/ham exercise on a total body day.  Doing 3-4 sets of 8-15 reps should get the backside stronger and developed.


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About The Author

Kevin Fulton

Kevin Fulton is personal trainer in Pittsburgh, PA. His goal is to help his clients look, feel, and move better. In his spare time you can find him under a barbell or practicing jiu jitsu.

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