Mar 15, 2018
Pulling Through

As a coach, you want your athletes to be their strongest on the field of play. One of the areas that is important for all athletes to strengthen is the posterior chain. While choosing an exercise to help with this, coaches also need to keep in mind the limited amount of time they have with athletes. The cable pull-through is a great addition to any athletic program, as it not only builds the posterior chain, but has other benefits as well, helping coaches to make the most of weight room time.

In an article for, Chris Pearson, EXOS XPS, EXOS XFS, FMS, CSAC, NASM CPT, CrossFit Level 1, explains that the cable pull-through builds strength and stability as it forces athletes to balance their weight while developing their hamstrings and glutes. This exercise also helps engrain the hip hinge, a move that can be difficult for athletes to learn.

“The beauty of the Pull-Through is that you’re having to contract your hamstrings and glutes the entire time,” writes Pearson. “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.”

While the cable pull-through can help build athletes’ athleticism, it is also perfect for players who are rehabilitating from an injury or even for lessening the chance of others becoming injured. In a blog for, Andy Haley, CSCS, explains that other posterior building exercises such as the squat and deadlift can wear on an athletes back. This is especially true if they lack foundational strength or have not perfected their form. According to strength coach and performance expert Tony Gentilcore, the pull-through is a safer movement for these athletes, as it puts little to no load on the spine.

The pull-through can also further help those athletes who are struggling with their deadlift form. While it looks different, it works the same movement pattern and muscles as the deadlift. This, in turn, helps athletes learn to use their hips in bringing the bar off the ground while strengthening the necessary muscles.

The cable pull-through is relatively easy to learn, as the rope attachment does much of the movement for the athletes. However, it’s still important for athletes to understand the correct steps for engaging in the exercise in order to decrease the chance of injury. Here are the steps to carrying out the pull-through, laid out by Pearson:

  1. Grab the handles of the rope and step away from the machine about two paces.
  2. Stance should be shoulder width or a bit wider.
  3. Screw feet into the ground trying to “split the floor apart” to set the hips up for movement.
  4. Body weight should be balanced in the mid foot/ball of the foot.
  5. Hinge at the hips (hips back, back flat), taking the cable between the legs. Maintain tension in the hamstrings the entire time.
  6. Bring the cable back through using the same path and flex your glutes hard at the top.
  7. Repeat.

When implementing the cable pull-through in your program, Pearson recommends placing it either at the beginning of athletes’ strength workout or after your main workout as an accessory lift. He also suggests doing 2-4 sets of 8-15 reps each.

Watch this video from Pearson and Reform Strength & Conditioning to see the Cable Pull-Through in action.

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