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The Cable Pull-Through

So I suppose that the best place to start would be at the beginning…my name is Josh Harowitz and I am Andrea’s partner at Balance in Motion (BIM). As Andrea has mentioned, one of our many (seemingly infinite) goals is to post on our blog on a relatively consistent basis. Our hope is not only to appeal to gym goers who are looking for a little advice or inspiration, but also to appeal to other professionals out there looking to advance and better hone their craft. I (as well as Andrea) am a huge blog reader, and have picked up a boat-load of information from some of the regular bloggers out there

(check out Tony Gentilcore, Patrick Ward, Eric Cressey, Mike Reinold, Mike Robertson, and Mike Boyle to name a few). Our hope is that we can emulate some of them and help others to learn, much as they have done for us.


One more thing: if you have just stumbled across this post but have not yet read any of Andrea’s stuff on the BIM website, may I suggest you do so. She is a bad-ass trainer and has posted some really good articles. I strongly urge you to check them out.


The Cable Pull-through:


For my maiden blog voyage, I want to quickly touch on an exercise that I have been using a lot lately, the cable pull-though. The cable pull through has quickly become a go-to exercise for me both in the gym with clients as well at Watermania Sports Therapy Clinic while working with rehab patients.


Typically there are two groups of people who I perscribe this exercise to:


Group 1: Anyone who is hoping to learn how to deadlift properly. Deadlifting is one of my absolute favorite exercises. It’s fantastic for building strength, size, power and tone. Moreover, you feel like a champ after doing them (especially when you hit a new personal best). The problem? It is an intimidating exercise for someone who does not have a lot of gym experience, and is often times done improperly. One of the biggest flaws I see with people attempting deadlifts is an improper hip hinge; when they just stand up with the bar instead of pulling through with the hips. The hinge can also be lost if people don’t have adequate hip mobility to get down to the bar (if you have ever seen someone doing a kind-of squat/deadlift hybrid – when they squat to get to the bar, and finish it with a deadlift – you know what I’m talking about).


Solution? The pull-through. First, because the load is coming posteriorly (from behind) as opposed to from below (as with a bar) it really forces you to grasp the hinge pattern by pulling your hips back. From there, the only way to then stand up is to hinge forward by firing your glutes and hamstrings. (NOTE: Other then stabilizing, your shoulders should be doing very little work).  Secondly, because the cable track is adjustable, hip mobility issues become a non-issue.

The second group I have been giving the pull-through to is people with low back pain. With this population you have to tread a little more carefully obviously, but the results I have seen have been fantastic. One of the first things I look at when someone has told me they are suffering from low back pain is their glute activation, and quite often there isn’t a whole lot of it there. Moreover, very often glute inactivity is coupled with hamstring hyperactivity. So what is a good exercise to help people learn how to activiate their glutes? You guessed it, the cable pull-through.

I have found it to be extremely helpful when trying to re-program people to be less hamstring dominant. If you have ever been doing bridges with a client only to have their hamstring cramp up every time they raise up off the floor, chances are they are using too much hamstring. I have noticed that if I get them off the floor and into some cable pull throughs, as soon as we return to the floor to bridge, the hamstring issues disappear. Why? Because they are now using their glutes properly to initiate the hinge, and the hamstrings are no longer forced to work overtime.


Tips and cues to try:

–       start with a low weight and really work on the hinge, from there you can start increasing your weight

–       when standing up, push the ground away from you

–       finish with your bum (to ensure you are getting glute activation)

–       your spine should stay neutral (don’t hyperexted when you finish the pull, you should finish with your bum, but not at the cost of going into hyperextension)

–       if you can picture yourself standing on a clock facing the 9:00 hour mark, your bum should go towards 4:00 when you bend down (typically I say 4:00 for deadlifts, 5:00 for squats)


So check out the video, give it a go, and let me know what you think.





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