Cable Pull Through – How You Can Add Them


If you’re like most people you head out to the gym, perform the same basic lifts you always do for the day, fuel up on your post-workout beverage and then head home or take on the rest of the day. Today we will talk about the Cable Pull Through and why you should add it to your routine.

That is great and all, but the major problem with simply performing the same lifts all the time is your body becomes accustomed to the lifts, which in turn reduces the kind of improvements you can expect.

That is exactly why you need to add in new lifts routinely.

This keeps your muscles off guard, which in turn helps keep you seeing strength and size results. The cable pulls through is one such move you should consider.

But what in the world is a cable pull through and how can you add it to your lift routine?

We’ve got all the answers to your questions right here. 

Muscles Hit By the Cable Pull Through

The butt area is the only real muscle group hit with the cable pull through.

The vast majority of the move is going to hit the gluteus maximus. This is the main cheek muscle in your butt. It is also going to hit some of the gluteus medius, which is part of the side of the gluteus. The gluteus minimus is hit to an extent, but this area works more as a stabilizer muscle than anything else (Teach Me Anatomy, 2017).

In addition to your glutes, several other stabilizer muscle groups are hit. These muscles are minor in terms of direct attention, but the muscles are engaged at points during the move.

These additional muscles include the hamstrings, spinal erectors, lats and your back (Barbend, 2017)

How to Perform the Cable Pull Through

The cable pull through does, naturally, require a cable machine.

You’ll want to attach the cable to the bottom connector on the machine. You’ll be pulling through your thighs, so make sure you have the necessary room required to perform the move.

Position yourself a few feet in front of the cable and pulley system. Your back will be to the machine with the cable rope in between your legs. As you straddle the rope, position your feet a little further than shoulder width apart.

As you stand, the rope will be just behind the back of your thighs, almost directly under your butt. Your arms should be fully extended through your thighs with your back and chest leaning forward. Make sure to maintain a straight back and avoid any arching.Your butt will be firmly in the air (you’ll be in a similar position to a stiff quarterback going under center).

While keeping your arms straight, attempt to push your butt through your front torso, thrusting your thighs upward. While performing this move your chest will come upright. It is important to keep your arms straight throughout the entire move. This way, all of the force is created through your gluteus. If your arms pull at all you’ll reduce the amount of tension placed on the butt and put tension on your arms.

Throughout the entire move, you want to keep your glutes tight.

This emphasizes the amount of pressure placed on your butt, which increases the muscle fiber tears and helps you strengthen, tighten and lift your butt.

Cable Pull’s Workout Routine

This is a move you want to put at the end of your leg day routine.

As it only targets the gluteus, you don’t want to expend all of your energy on this lift. Instead, focus on multi-joint lifts, such as a deadlift and squat variations towards the front of your lower body lift. You can either decide to use the cable pull through as a standard lift towards the end of leg day, or you can use it as a burnout.

The burnout simply burns out all of the remaining energy you have left in your tank, it would be considered a finisher workout move.

If you’re going for a regular lift, you want to aim for three sets at eight to 12 reps. If you are aiming at increasing strength over size you can go for a lower number (such as four), but eight to 12 is the ideal option. If you want to avoid size altogether and just want to tone up your butt and lift, you can shoot for something higher (such as 15 reps per set) which will be muscle endurance.

If you are going to use this as a burnout, put it at a lower weight and perform the lift as many times as you can before you have no more energy to complete another lift. Wait 60 to 90 seconds and then do it a second time.

I Don’t Have a Cable Machine? What Should I do?

Have you ever been at the gym, waiting to get to the cable machine but the same guy is seemingly performing every single cable workout known to mankind?

He then proceeds to use two different cable machines at once, more or less preventing anyone from using the cable machine.

Yes, these guys are the worst, but when this happens (or you don’t have any cable machines at all in the gym) what should you do?

You do kind of have an option.

Alright, so the workout is called the “cable” pull through for a reason. It requires the cable machine to perform your move. With it not accessible for the moment you’ll have to make a slight variation. You can switch it out with a single dumbbell or, better yet, a kettlebell (this is actually a kettlebell swing and there are some slight differences here, but it is a great, similar workout on its own).

The kettlebell will give you a less awkward piece of equipment to use. Realistically you’ll probably be able to lift more with the cable as your arms will be used with the kettlebell. However, you’ll still receive a nice lower body workout that is comparable to what you might normally receive with a cable machine pull through (Barbend, 2017).

Perhaps you are out on the go, traveling or just don’t have the free cash to spend on a gym membership?

Not a problem there either. You probably don’t want to lug a kettlebell in with your carry-on luggage (think about the average costs you’d have to pay than with the airline!). Instead, you can use resistance bands here.

Attach the resistance band on the other side of a door knob, then close the door with the resistance band coming up underneath the door frame (this works best if there is some space under the door). From here you can perform the same move as the cable pull through. If you need to increase the resistance, reduce the amount of band you have to work with.

The less slack requires the band to stretch further, and in order to do this you need to pull harder (The Barbell Psycho, 2016).

Who Should Consider the Cable Pull Through

This is a great exercise as it targets the butt specifically.

So really, if you want to improve your butt, tighten it, tone it and lift it, the cable pull through is a must. Of course, how many of us don’t want a tighter, toner and lifted butt?

You’d probably be hard press to find anyone who wouldn’t want something like this.

So outside of those (everyone) looking for a better butt, who should really consider using this lift?

The beauty of the cable pull through is it is very low impact. None of your joints are actually engaging any of the weight (when you perform the lift correctly). As you are thrusting through the exercise, all of the impacts are directed towards your gluteus.

This makes it a great workout for anyone who suffers from knee problems.

If your knees hurt when performing squats you may have found there are very few actual lifts available for working your lower body.

The cable pulls through is a must. Additionally, if you suffer from shoulder problems like a rotator cuff issue and kettlebell swings are causing problems with your shoulder, this is a solid move to bring in. Now, the kettlebell swing works more than just your butt. It works parts of our upper body as well.

The cable pull through does not work your upper body, but it does help if you are looking for lifts that do not impact your shoulder.

Who Should Be Performing the Lift

The great thing about the lift does not only do it help with improving the appearance of your gluteus, it is also very low impact as you don’t have any direct weight placed on your joints.

With that said, are there people who should not be performing this lift?

If you have recently had any kind of back surgery, especially lower back surgery, you should start off light. Most gluteus exercises are going to bring in some sort of lower back movement, so it is difficult to train your gluteus without hitting this area.

However, it may be something where you just need to give it a bit more time to heal. After all, they say the number one cause of back surgeries is back surgeries. You don’t want to injure yourself again from an initial surgery and bring about the second one.

Outside of any current injuries, you are waiting to heal up before moving forward with your workouts, there really are not many other reasons as to why you shouldn’t consider this kind of a move. It is a very powerful move in developing your butt. With a stronger butt, you’ll be able to perform better in all of your other lower body exercises, including the deadlift and your varying squat exercises.

Cable Pull Through Variations & Alternative Lift

Perhaps you have been performing the cable pull through for some time and your body isn’t reacting any longer.

When that is the case it is time to switch it up.

These alternative lifts are great for after you’ve been using the cable pull through for a few months and your results are slowing down (you need to switch up your lifts from time to time to keep your body always guessing). These are also great moves to test out if that cable pull hog guy just isn’t leaving (Barbend, 2017).

We’ve already looked at the kettlebells and resistance band options.

These are similar in movements, so you’re really just swapping out the equipment.

The glute hip thrust though is an alternative lift that is different entirely. Position your shoulders and neck on the end of a bench. Then, position your legs out in front of you with your chest parallel to the floor (you’re in a bridge position, head up towards the ceiling). Position a weight right above your pelvic area. You can hold a plate, a dumbbell or you can hold a loaded barbell here (feel free to experience to see what feels best for you).

From here you lower your butt down to the ground, then thrust up. When your body is back at completely parallel to the ground you’ll hold it here before lowering your butt back down. This directly targets the same muscle groups, in addition to some of your upper quads.

While free weights are always recommended and typically better than machine workouts due to the ability to add in stabilizer muscles into lifts that simply are not touched with a machine, there are, on occasion, machine lifts you simply can’t replicate using dumbbells.

The cable pull through is one such lift.


If you haven’t considered adding it, this is a great lower body workout, especially if you want to strengthen your butt, lift it and even add size. So next time you hit the gym for your lower body workout, add in the cable pull through. That burn you receive and the pain you’ll experience the next day in your gluteus will be signs you’ve found a perfect addition to your lifting routine.

-Terry Asher

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Terry Asher

Owner & Founder at Gym Junkies LLC
After changing his best friend’s life by helping him lose over 70lbs, dropping him down to an amazing 7% body fat, Terry was inspired to be a full-time internet trainer knowing he could do the same for many more. In 2010, Terry published his own diet and fitness e-book that can be purchased on this website. Let Terry help you change your body for the better!
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  1. Terry
    Thanks for putting in the variations for those of us who don’t have acces to a cable machine. I will try this one out!!

  2. Great info in this article, Terry. I have leg day tomorrow. I’ll incorporate them into my routine tomorrow and let you know what I think.


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