The Cable Pull-Through – The Best Exercise You Probably Aren’t Doing!
Cable Pull-Throughs may be the best exercise you aren’t doing! They share a lot in common with the Kettlebell Swing, but they are much easier to learn and can really help to groove the hip hinge pattern. The pull-through is fantastic for building posterior chain strength and directly carries over to the field of play by teaching you how to use your glutes and hamstrings to produce hip extension for running and jumping. Specifically, it teaches you to separate your low back from your hips during the hip hinge pattern. Many people use their low back to produce movement which sets them up for injury! The pull-through also provides full-range loading with no dead spots in the movement which teaches you to maintain full-body tension throughout the entire range of motion for hip extension and flexion.
The pull-through is also an excellent choice for people with low back issues because it places much less load on the spine yet provides the benefits of a deadlift or other hip hinge movements like the kettlebell swing. Last but not least the pull-through can help as a corrective exercise for people who consistently fall into the pattern of being hamstring dominant in classic glute exercise like supine bridges. When doing bridges aka hip lifts many people will have hamstring cramps because they are not effectively activating their glutes so consequently compensate by oversuing their hamstrings. For these folks cable pull throughs can often completely fix the problem by teaching them to use their glutes more and hamstrings less for hip extension!
How to do a Cable Pull-Through
Set an adjustable cable in a low position – not necessarily the lowest position because you want the line of pull to be more horizontal than vertical which is one of the big advantages of using a cable over a free weight! Keep in mind standing hip extension is more of a horizontal movement than a vertical one.
Attached a tricep rope to the end of the cable so you can grasp both ends of the rope.
For this movement you will face away from the cable with a slightly wide stance and think about pushing the knees out from the center. You are going to reach down and back through your legs and grasp both ends of the rope.
This is NOT a squat movement – so sit back like you are trying to touch a wall behind you with your butt. Keep pushing back until your hands are past your knees.
Keep your spine straight the whole time! This means maintaining the natural arch of the low back and not allowing your upper back to round – you will really feel the stretch in the hamstrings if you are doing it correctly!
Your head should follow the hip hinge with chin-tucked slightly throughout – you do NOT want to hyperextend the neck!
At the top of the movement concentrate on squeezing the glutes at the top without locking the knees.
A good starting point is 3 – 4 sets of 8 – 15 reps and this is NOT about moving as much weight as you can or trying to rack the stack! Be mindful during the movement and make sure the back stays flat, neck does not hyperextend, and you feel those glutes firing!