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Cable Pull Through Exercise Guide | Why & How to Do It

    cable pull through exercise guide

    Do you have problems with the deadlift or exercises that focus on your lower back and glutes? Don’t like doing kettlebell swings? If your answer is yes to any of these questions, then it is time to try a rather forgotten exercise called the cable pull through.

    I call it forgotten since I have never seen anybody doing it in the gym, although it is very beneficial.

    Working on your posterior muscle groups, such as your glutes, lower back, hamstrings, etc., is crucial if you want to build real muscle strength.

    Here you will learn everything about pull throughs, and you will see that the cable crossover machine can be used for wise things.

    Muscles Worked with the Cable pull Through

    The cable pull through is a great exercise that effectively works all of your posterior chain muscles. These are the gluteal muscle, hamstrings, spine, lower back, and hip muscles. It is perfect for muscle strength and conditioning. The lower back muscles sit around your lumbar region and are at the center of many of your movements. For this reason, you want to make sure that your lower back remains strong and flexible.

    The hip abductors are secondary muscles you can work out with a cable pull through. These are the muscle groups found on the inside of your thigh. Some of these muscles flex and extend your hip and stabilize your pelvis and trunk when standing on one leg. The abductor muscle group accounts for a good portion of your thigh’s inner and back portion.

    The hamstrings are the largest muscle group in your legs and extend your hip and flex the legs. You use your hamstrings for lifting and sprinting. The hamstring muscle also crosses the hip and knee joint for hip extension and knee and hip flexion.

    muscles worked

    What is the Proper Form When Doing a Cable Pull Through?

    Here is the video from which you can learn the correct form. Just follow the steps to learn how to do a cable pull through.



    • Pay attention to perform it with a full range of motion
    • Total hyperextension is unnecessary because it only irritates the lower back unnecessarily. Keep you back in a natural position
    • Do not pull the weight with your arms but use muscles of the posterior chain
    • If your legs are stretched, the hamstrings will work more, and if they are slightly bent, the glutes will work harder
    • It is recommended to perform this exercise with higher reps, about 10-15, or even more. But, I think, to develop strength and muscle gain and mass, instead of increasing the reps, it is better to use higher resistance

    What are the Benefits of the Cable Pull Through?

    Cable pull through exercise

    Easy to perform and learn

    While the deadlift is one of the most beneficial compound exercises to gain strength, it is among the lifts usually performed badly, very badly.

    Most people, especially beginners, make mistakes such as leaning forward too much with their hip movement, using a bad knee position, bad back posture, etc. And they usually combine these mistakes. This way, they risk getting a severe injury, and obviously, the exercise loses its benefits. They give up this powerful practice just because they do not enjoy it and see no results.

    If there is an exercise that you do not like, the best thing to do is find an alternative. Deadlifts are a great option since they are easy to learn and are safe. Even beginners without a strength training background can quickly acquire the skills needed to perform this exercise correctly, even without the help of a personal trainer.

    And once you get good at this exercise, you are ready to go back to the cable pull through exercise since the form, and the muscle activation are almost the same. So, you will not commit the typical mistakes I mentioned before.

    If you are bad at deadlifts, this movement is a good cure.

    It develops your glutes effectively

    Do you want to get a well-shaped butt? Do you want to jump higher or run faster?

    It will help you with each since it works all the required posterior chain muscles. A cable pull through for glutes is useful for any athlete.

    If you want to focus more on your butt, just do more reps and a slight bend to your legs.

    The cable pull through is also a great exercise for eccentric muscle damage and muscle activation of the glutes and hamstrings. It requires isolated movements that can be done in higher volumes without additional fatigue or stress to the lower back, helping with glute and hamstring muscle hypertrophy.

    Safe to perform

    If you have ever tried exercises for the rare posterior chain, such as the good morning, you know it is not easy to do, and the risk of getting an injury is not neglected. But, it is a powerful move.

    Thanks to the cable pull-through motion, the risk of getting an injury is low. Just use the amount of weight that provides enough resistance and tension and lets you perform it with proper form.

    It is functional exercise

    The glute bridge is a useful and functional fitness exercise to shape your butt, but it is not a move that we usually do in real life. Hence, it is not functional.

    On the other hand, a cable deadlift pull through is a move that we do each day. During this muscle activation motion, we are teaching the kinetic chain of our body to work as it should. So, it is useful for lifters and people doing bodybuilding to prevent lower back problems.

    The cable pull through is good for proper hip flexion as well, making it even more of a functional fitness exercise. It teaches and reinforces proper hip flexion and allows you to learn more advanced movements like deadlifts and pulls.

    Finally, pull throughs increase muscle activation and allow you to actively engage your muscle group in a more controlled setting.

    Are There Alternatives to Cable Pull Throughs?

    Yes, there are alternatives to cable pull throughs. These exercises include the kettlebell swing, banded pull through, barbell hip thrust, deadlift, and dumbbell squat. More on these alternative cable pull through exercises below.

    Kettlebell swing

    If you cannot use a cable pull machine, the best cable pull through alternative is the kettlebell swing. It is maybe more difficult to perform since that is a free weight. You can learn the proper form here.

    The kettlebell swing is considered a compound exercise to enhance total body strength. It also helps increase your stamina and cardiovascular endurance. The movements during a kettlebell swing are on the hips rather than the arms, which drives the weight upward.

    The kettlebell swing works your gluteal muscles, core muscles, shoulders, quadriceps, abductors, hamstrings, and calf muscles. It can also improve your grip.

    Banded pull through

    A banded pull through can be done using a resistance band or rope attachment if you don’t have access to a cable machine. Anchor the resistance band to an immobile object. Grab the band by reaching through your legs and moving forward until you feel the resistance and tension. This is the same movement pattern you would experience if you were doing traditional cable pull throughs.

    You can change the resistance by switching out the resistance bands you use. Since it is the same movement, the banded pull through will work out your posterior chain muscles. This includes the hamstrings, gluteus maximus, and lower back muscles.

    Barbell hip thrust

    Another alternative to a cable through when you don’t have a machine is the barbell hip thrust. The barbell is placed on the anterior hip, which acts as resistance against the muscles you are using to drive your hips forward. In addition to the barbell, you should also have access to a bench for this workout.

    The barbell hip thrust effectively targets the glutes and hamstrings. The quads, core, and hip abductors are also put to work.


    The deadlift is a weight lifting workout that has different variations. The deadlift activates the gluteal muscles. The spine should be neutral when doing a deadlift, and your core should be engaged. A Romanian deadlift, for example, targets the glutes through hip extension.

    Dumbbell squat

    Another good alternative exercise to a cable pull through is a dumbbell squat. The dumbbell squat engages the glutes, quads, and hamstrings just like a traditional squat. It is good for leg strength and power. A dumbbell squat eliminates the stress of the weight on your upper back but is not recommended for an inexperienced lifter.


    After reading the benefits of these cable exercises, I think you understand why the cable pull through exercise should be in your training program. It is safe, easy to perform, functional, and a great alternative for the deadlift or kettlebell swing. Do not care that nobody does it in the gym. Try it yourself, and you will feel how powerful it is.

    Related exercises:

    The cable pull through is among the most powerful exercises for strengthening the posterior chain. Learning how to do a cable pull through can prove beneficial for your workout routine and can do wonders on your posterior chain muscles.


    James Wright

    James (36) has been working out since he was 15 years old. He has a home gym where he pumps iron, does bodyweight workouts and boxing. He likes sharing his experiences with others who want to build a better physique.

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