How to do Cable Pull-Throughs Correctly and Safely

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The cable pull-through is a great compound exercise that trains the powerful muscles of the posterior chain which includes the hamstrings, the glutes, and the low back.

It is considered to be a great introductory variation to the deadlift, and a formidable builder of the legs all by itself.

In order to perform the cable pull-through, you will need a cable pulley machine that has an adjustable height.



  • Strengthens and tones the leg muscles, especially the hamstrings and glute muscles

  • Teaches the appropriate mechanics for bending at the waist

  • Strengthens the back muscles without providing any compressive axial loading


  • Hamstrings

  • Glutes

  • Low Back

  • Core

  • Upper Back (Isometrically)


  • Approach a cable pulley machine and attach the rope handle or another similar attachment to the machine

  • Lower the pulley apparatus to the lowest setting

  • Pick the desired weight on the machine (remember to always start out light when learning a new movement)

  • Face away from the machine and grab the rope attachment with your palms facing each other in between your legs

  • Ideally, you should use flat sole shoes such as Converse Chuck Taylors, Nike Metcons, or Rebook Crossfit Nanos, to maintain a stable foot position. Any shoe with a squishy sole will not allow you to transfer force adequately from your feet to your hips.
  • Take a few steps away from the machine so that the pulley begins to lift the weight off the rack. Ensure that you are far enough so that the weight lifted does not come back in contact with the weight stack

  • Assume a stance that is wider than shoulder width with your feet straight, or pointed out no more than 15-30 degrees



  • Begin the movement by bending at the waist and pushing your hips back towards the machine.

  • Do not allow your spinal alignment to change, keep your spine neutral

  • Keep pushing your hips back until you feel a nice stretch in your hamstrings


  • Pause for a second and reverse the movement by extending at the hips

  • Ensure that you squeeze and activate your glutes at the top of the movement

  • Repeat for the desired amount of reps



  • Do not allow any motion to come from your spine.

  • Focus on moving ONLY at the hips. Practice by standing 12 inches away from a wall, and try to make your butt come in contact with the wall. This can only be achieved through hip flexion


Can I Do Cable Pull-Through With A Band?

Yes, the pull-through can be performed with a band. Just tie a resistance band to a sturdy structure and perform the exercise the same way as described above. The band will accommodate the resistance throughout the movement; i.e, there will be less stretch on the band at the bottom of the exercise, and more at the top.

Try and get different sized bands, as they all provide different amounts of resistance. Amazon has a good set.


Can I Do Cable Pull-Throughs Without The Machine?

Yes, you can do this exercise with a band as described above. Or you can select one of the alternative exercises listed below. They will all train the same muscle groups through hip extension.


Which Exercise is Better? Cable Pull-Through Vs. Hip Thrust?

Both exercises are great for glute development, however, the hip thrust targets the hamstring muscles more. With that said, you will be able to lift a lot more weight with the hip thrust. Bret Contreras has popularized the weighted hip thrust exercise.


The Cable Pull-Through Hurts My Lower Back. What Do I Do?

This is likely due to improper technique. You must focus on bending at the waist and not at the spine. Your spine should remain in a neutral position without changing its angle throughout the exercise. All of the tension should be felt in the hamstrings and glutes.

If this exercise still hurts, then use one of the alternatives below.


Whats An Ideal Cable Pull-Through Weight?

Aim to perform 12 repetitions with 65% of your body weight


How Can I Integrate The Cable Pull-Through In My Training?

Check out The WCT Best Workout Template For Busy Professionals to find a simple way to add the cable pull-through and other great exercises into your routine.



Did you like this tutorial? Be sure to check out our entire library of other exercises tutorials to find more.

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Alex Robles, MD / Brittany Robles, MD, MPH

Alex Robles, MD / Brittany Robles, MD, MPH

Alex & Brittany Robles are OBGYN's, fitness experts, and founders of The White Coat Trainer, a site dedicated to improving the health and fitness of busy individuals. Their advice has been featured on KevinMD, The Doctor Weighs In, My Fitness Pal, Reader's Digest, and The Active Times. Learn more about them here.

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