cable pull through alternative
Exercise Alternative

7 Cable Pull Through Alternatives for Glutes and Hamstrings

The posterior chain is a part of the body that is often neglected in favor of the more showy muscles on the front side of the body. One of the best exercises to work the posterior chain is the cable pull through.

This simple move targets the gluteus muscles, hamstrings, and spinal erectors to strengthen and develop the power base of your body.

But what if you don’t have access to a cable pulley machine?

In this article, I’ll provide 7 awesome cable pull through alternatives, including variations that you can do at home.

Benefits of Cable Pull Throughs

  • Improves hip hinge ability to improve technique on compound exercises.
  • Strengthens the primary muscles of the glutes, hamstrings and erector spinae muscles.
  • Increases mass in the powerful muscles of the hamstrings and glutes, making this an effective exercise for muscle hypertrophy. 
  • Allows for progressive resistance overload without placing compressive stress on the spine.

What Makes a Good Cable Pull Through Alternative

A good cable pull through alternative will isolate one of the target muscles of the exercise; the glutes, hamstring muscles, or spinal erectors.

cable pull through muscles worked

Ideally, it will hit all three of them with maximum muscle activation. It should also move the target muscle through its full range of motion and provide constant tension for maximum muscle hypertrophy. 

1. Cable Hip Flexion

Why it’s a great alternative

The cable hip flexion exercise allows you to isolate and work your glutes through their full range of motion. The pulley weight stack also allows you to easily progress the weight from set to set.

Muscles worked

Gluteus maximus, gluteus minimis, 

Step-by-step how-to

  1.  Attach an ankle strap to a cable pulley which is set at its lowest point.
  2. Stand three feet in front of the machine facing away from it with the ankle strap attached to your right ankle.
  3. Drive your right knee up to full extension.
  4. Lower and return.
  5. Do 3 sets of 15 reps on each leg.
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Equipment used 

Cable machine

Tips 

Move slowly and deliberately. Be sure to get a full range of motion.

2. Band Lying Hip Flexion

Why it’s a great alternative

The band lying hip flexion exercise is a direct stimulator of the glutes and hamstrings against band resistance. You can do this exercise at home with an inexpensive resistance exercise band.

Muscles worked

Gluteus maximus, hamstrings

Step-by-step how-to

  1. Secure a resistance band to the bottom of a secure upright. 
  2. Lie on your back on the floor, facing the upright, about three feet in front of it.
  3. Attach the band to your right ankle and adjust so that the band is taut,
  4. Lie flat with your legs extended.
  5. Draw your right knee up to full extension.
  6. Lower and repeat.
  7. Do 3 sets of 15 reps on each leg.

Equipment used 

Resistance band

Tips 

Keep your torso flat on the floor throughout and keep your hips down.

3. Side Lying Adduction

Why it’s a great alternative

The side lying adduction exercise is a great exercise to isolate your quadricep adductor muscles.

Muscles worked

Adductors, glutes

Step-by-step how-to

  1. Lie side on with your legs stacked nd your lower arm under your head. Place your other hand on the floor in front of you.
  2. Draw your top leg up and across your body to place your foot in front of the body at hip level.
  3. Bring your straightened lower leg off the ground by about 10 inches.
  4. Hold for 5 seconds.
  5. Lower and repeat.
  6. Do 3 sets of 10 reps on each leg.

Equipment used 

Cable machine

Tips 

Move slowly and deliberately. Keep your torso straight with a neutral lower back.

4. Band Seated Adduction

Why it’s a great alternative

The band seated adduction exercise allows you to focus on strengthening your quadriceps adductors to improve your mobility and hip flexion.

Muscles worked

Quad adductors

Step-by-step how-to

  1. Sit on a seat and place a resistance loop band around your inner thighs.
  2. Keeping your torso upright, extend your thighs out and then back in.
  3. Perform 3 sets of 12 reps.

Equipment used 

Cable machine

Tips 

Hold the extension for a second n each rep before coming back in.

5. Glute Ham Machine Raise

Why it’s a great alternative

This is a great move to fully extend and contract your hamstrings. It allows you to use your body weight to overload the hamstrings. This exercise will also improve thoracic extension and develop your mobility as well as improving hamstring flexibility, hip strength, hamstring development, and muscle hypertrophy.

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Muscles worked

Hamstrings

Step-by-step how-to

  1. After adjusting it for your height, lie on the glute ham machine and cross your arms across your chest.
  2. Lower your torso down to full extension.
  3. Hinge from the hips to come up to parallel with the floor.
  4. Return to original position and repeat.
  5. Do 3 sets of 12 reps

Equipment used 

Tips 

To achieve proper form, maintain a neutral upper body position throughout the entire movement as you extend your hips up and down. 

6. Band Pull Through

via Gfycat

Why it’s a great alternative

The band pull through allows you to do the pull through exercise at home with just a resistance band. This cable variation will work the posterior muscles in the same way as the gym version, making it an ideal at-home substitute. It is also an excellent explosive glute training movement.

Muscles worked

Glutes, hamstrings, spinal erectors

Step-by-step how-to

  1. Attach a resistance band to a secure upright about a foot from the floor. Stand about three feet in front of the upright facing away from it and grab the band through your legs with a double overhand grip. Maintain an even body weight and have a slight bend in your knees. 
  2. Hinge your hips as you drive your butt back.
  3. Push forward to come up to full hip extension and an upright body posture.
  4. Lower and repeat. 
  5. Do 3 sets of 15 reps.

Equipment used 

Resistance elastic bands

Tips 

Move out your body distance to achieve full band tension; look up as you drive your hips forward to complete the movement for maximum glute activation and hip raise. Maintain a neutral position in the lower back as you pull through for a forceful contraction. Use different sized bands according to your strength level. Proper pull through form is essential to get the most from that exercise.

7. Banded Hip Abduction

Why it’s a great alternative

The banded hip abduction exercise can be done at home with a band. This is an excellent inner thigh exercise that also works the hamstrings and glutes.

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Muscles worked

Inner thighs, glutes, hamstrings

Step-by-step how-to

  1. Lie on the floor with your legs stacked and resting on your bottom upper arm. Loop a thick booty band around your mid thigh.
  2. Place your upper hand on your knee. From a starting position with your knees together and toes touching, open the hip to bring your top thigh up as high as possible, clamshell fashion. Keep your feet stacked .
  3. Lower and repeat.
  4. Do 3 sets of 12 reps on each leg.

Equipment used 

Resistance band

Tips 

Squeeze your glutes between reps; drive the bottom thigh into the ground as you extend the top thigh up.

Final Thoughts

The cable pull through exercise is a very good move to work your posterior chain muscles with a focus on your butt muscles and lower back. If you don’t have access to a cable machine, you now have 7 excellent alternative exercises that you can do to work the same muscles.

For your training program, I recommend doing a total of 8 sets, made up of between 2 and 3 exercises to fully work your glutes, hamstrings, and spinal erectors. Use a rep range of between 20 and 6, using a heavier weight as you drop the rep count.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you do cable pulls at home?

You can do cable pull throughs at home with a resistance band, which you can buy for a few dollars. Attach the band to the bottom of an internal door and stand in front of it, facing away. Grab the band under your legs and pull through as you would in the cable version of the exercise. 

Is cable pull through effective?

Yes, the cable pull through is an effective exercise for your hamstrings, glutes, and posterior chain. It provides constant tension on those muscles and allows you to progressively increase the resistance to the exercise. 

Are cable pull throughs good for glutes?

Yes, this is a good exercise for the gluteus maximus, which is the main muscle of the butt. This exercise allows you to forcefully contract the glutes against resistance to maximally activate the glues and hamstrings for muscle building. 

Steve Theunissen

Steve Theunissen is a former gym owner and personal trainer based in Tauranga, New Zealand. He is the author of six hardcopy books and more than a hundred ebooks on the topics of bodybuilding, fitness, and fat loss.

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