Tip: Do Pull-Throughs for Stronger Squats and a Great Butt

Figure competitors and guys who squat 900 pounds have something in common. They use cable pull-throughs to build great posterior chains. Here's how.

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Pull-throughs could be the number one exercise you aren't doing. First, they get you strong. Powerlifters use pull-throughs as a staple accessory exercise to help train the hamstrings and glutes. Pull-throughs offer a unique training stimulus because you can load the posterior chain with a fraction of the compressive and shear loading forces on the spine.

Second, they're easy to learn. Most everyone has access to a pulley system, and the learning curve on the pull-through isn't nearly as steep as the kettlebell swing.

How to Perform the Cable Pull-Through

  1. Use a slightly wider stance than normal and think about pushing the knees out. Don't revert to a squat pattern. Sit back into the "stretch" or hip hinge pattern. It's not an up and down motion, but rather a back and forth motion.
  2. Push your hips or hamstrings back as if you're trying to tap a wall with your butt. Keep doing so until your hands are past your knees. Many lifters make the mistake of "crowding their groin" and omit the whole reaching-through portion.
  3. Maintain a neutral spine at all times. That means to maintain the natural curvature of your upper and lower back by not allowing the upper back to round while the lower back stays arched.
  4. Your head follows the hinge. This ensures a packed or chin-tucked pattern throughout. In this way, you're less likely to hyperextend the neck and cause undue stress.
  5. At lockout, don't hyperextend the hips. Concentrate on "finishing with the hips" and squeezing the glutes at the top, making sure to lock out the knees.