The Cable Pull Through is one of the greatest exercises to build your glutes. In fact, Bret Contreras conducted an experiment to see which exercises resulted in the best glute maximus activation and the Cable Pull Through was one of the top 3 exercises. I don’t know about you, but that is enough motivation for me to start doing pull through’s asap. The question is, how do you do a cable pull through? And more importantly, how do you do it correctly?

Let’s jump right into it!


Cable Pull Through


How to Perform a Cable Pull Through


Step 1

Find a cable machine and attach the rope attachment, make sure that the pulley is at the bottom of the machine. Select a weight that is manageable for you.

Step 2

With your back facing the machine, pull the rope attachment between your legs and hold the rope with your palms facing each other.

Step 3

Take a few steps forward and plant your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.

Step 4:

Bend forward ensuring that you sit your hips back as you bend. Continue bending forward until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. You do not have to bend over completely for this exercise.

Step 5

Once you feel the stretch in your hamstrings, go back to your standing position by driving through your hips and squeezing your glutes at the top.

Step 6

Repeat the sequence for the desired amount of reps.

Cable Pull Through Glutes

Tips to Improve your Cable Pull Through Form and Things to Avoid


1.Play around with foot placement and foot flare until you find a position where the muscle contraction feels the best. We are all built differently so you need to see what works best for you.


2.Keep your back neutral. Do not round your back as you perform the exercise as you could injure yourself.


3.Do not squat the movement. Make sure you are hinging at the hips rather than lowering your butt down like you would do with a squat. A good cue to use is to pretend that someone has a string around your hips, and they are pulling your hips backwards. I know, it sounds weird, but it works.


4.Select a weight that is appropriate for your strength and fitness level. If you select a weight that is too heavy you will be pulled backwards by the cable which will make it difficult to perform the exercise. The weight should be challenging enough that it feels like you are working the muscles but not so heavy that you can’t keep your balance.


5.Retract your shoulder blades to ensure that you have good upper body form. Retracting your shoulder blades will ensure that you do not round your shoulders.


The Benefits of Cable Pull Throughs

Cable Pull Through Glutes Hamstrings

They Target your Glutes and Hamstrings


This exercise is great for building your glutes and hamstrings. It has the same movement pattern as a deadlift which is why it is great for hamstring development. But it also targets your glutes effectively because of the force created by the cable.


They Help to Develop your Hip Hinge


A lot of people struggle to hinge at the hip and with exercises like the deadlift it is imperative to be able to hip hinge properly. The Cable Pull through is a simple exercise that teaches you how to hip hinge correctly without complicated technique involved.  Developing the ability to hip hinge correctly will help you perform exercises like deadlifts, rack pulls and good mornings more effectively and with better form.


They Place Less Pressure on your Back


This exercise still works your lower back muscles but there is less pressure on your lumbar spine due to how the exercise is set up. A deadlift, which places a lot of pressure on your lower back, is a vertical movement. This means that when performing the exercise, the weight moves up and down.

The heavy weight in combination with how your body positioned places great pressure on your lower back muscles. The Cable Pull Through is a horizontal movement which means the weight moves from side to side. This means there is no direct pressure on your back like with the deadlift.


Cable Pull Through- Muscles Worked


Glutes and Hamstrings


The Cable Pull Through is a hip dominant exercise which means your glutes and hamstrings are highly activated during this movement. Due to the setup of the exercise, it creates a horizontal force against your glutes which leads to a greater contraction compared to a deadlift or a squat.


Erector spinae


Your lower back muscles are also recruited which means it helps you to develop lower back strength with a lower risk of injury.


Upper Back


Your upper back muscles are also recruited because you have to maintain good posture throughout the exercise.


Reps and Weight Recommendations

Here are some recommendations for reps and weights based on your goals.You can also do a combination of two or more of the below protocols.


To Build Strength

To build strength perform 3 to 5 reps per set with a heavy weight. 

The best way to determine what weight you should be lifting is to select a weight you think will be challenging. If you can easily get to the last rep, then the weight is too light. If you struggle to get through the first two reps or your form is poor, then you need to drop the weight.

There is a bit of trial and error involved but it becomes easier as you get to know your body and your capabilities. Don’t be afraid to play around with different weight combinations until you find the right weight for you.


To Build Muscle

If your main goal is hypertrophy (to build muscle), then you should do 8 to 12 reps per set with a moderate weight. For your hypertrophy sets you will need to lower the weight. You will not be able to lift the same weight as you did for your strength sets.

To Develop Muscular Endurance

If you are trying to develop muscular endurance, then you should aim for 12 to 20 reps with a light weight.

Since you are trying to build endurance rather than strength and muscle it is not necessary to use heavy weights.


Alternatives for the Cable Pull Through


Here are some alternatives you can try if you do not have access to a cable machine.

1.Hip Thrust

2.Glute Bridge

3.Romanian Deadlift

4.Kettlebell Swing

If you would still like to include Cable Pull Throughs into your training routine but you don’t have access to a cable machine you can use resistance bands.

For this variation you will have to tie the band around a sturdy object which will not move or break and follow the rest of the steps explained above.


Alternatively, you can purchase the resistance band set that comes with a door anchor. Simply place the anchor at the bottom of the door and attach the resistance band you would like to use. You can use the ankle straps to hold onto as you perform the exercise.

Now that you know how to perform the Cable Pull Through with great form, you can include it in your routine to help you build your hamstrings and booty!

Happy lifting!

Anna Mathis, CPT,CNC
Anna Mathis, CPT,CNC

Anna is a certified personal trainer, certified nutrition coach, and science junkie who has a passion for teaching women about weight training, nutrition, and wellness.