Why The Cable Pull-Through is The Missing Link in Your Training Program

This exercise will help you 'bullet-proof' your backside.

One thing you'll hear me talk about to anyone I train is "bulletproofing your backside." This translates well to both athletes and the general population. Why? Athletes need a strong (and healthy) posterior chain to perform their best on the field, and both parties want to have a nice backside. Win win.

I work primarily with groups, so sometimes it can be a little hectic trying to make sure everyone is "hinging" at the hips properly. Enter the Band/Cable Pull-Through.

The Pull-Through provides the perfect blend of stability and strength and reinforces the hinge movement pattern. The stability portion of the movement comes with having to balance your weight and focus on your body positioning so you don't fall forward or backward. Building strength through the posterior chain is a must for athletes, and the Pull-Through gives a great blend of both hamstring and glute involvement/development. The cable version does more in regards to building a base for absolute strength, while the banded version can be used more for speed/power development. No need to lift the full stack on this exercise--think of it as building a base for the big compound lifts. When's the last time someone asked what your max Cable Pull-Through was, anyways?

It's no secret that the hinge (hips back, back flat) pattern can be difficult to learn, and on the coaching side, it can be a little difficult to teach, too. The beauty of the Pull-Through is that you're having to contract your hamstrings and glutes the entire time. More time under tension (TUT) is great for results, sure, but the other gigantic benefit of the added tension is the time spent engraining the hinge movement pattern into your repertoire safely and effectively. The cable/band forces you to drop your chest rather than dipping at the knees and turning the movement into a Squat, which happens all too often.

The banded version of the Pull-Through is especially useful as a teaching tool because it allows the low back to be unloaded at the bottom. Due to the accommodating resistance of a band, the bottom of the movement is where there's the least amount of tension. This helps avoid any low-back tightness or pain during the movement, which can often be a limiting factor in teaching the hip hinge. It seems that after someone gets a little tight in the lower back, they default back to a squat pattern, making it that much harder to get them back to the hinge.

How to Perform the Cable Pull-Through

Grab the handles of the rope and step away from the machine about two paces

  • Stance should be shoulder width or a bit wider.
  • Screw feet into the ground trying to "split the floor apart" to set the hips up for movement.
  • Body weight should be balanced in the mid foot/ball of the foot.
  • Hinge at the hips (hips back, back flat) taking the cable between the legs maintaining tension in the hamstrings the entire time.
  • Bring the cable back through using the same path, flex the glutes hard at the top.
  • Repeat.

Let's talk sets and reps, and where the Pull-Through can/should fall within your programs. 2-4 sets is appropriate, as is 8-15 reps per set.

Program Placement: This can range from the beginning of your strength workout to activate and pre exhaust the posterior chain or it can also be included after your daily "main moves" as an accessory lift.