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7 Cable Pull Through Alternatives You Can Do at Home

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The cable pull through is an effective compound exercise to target the posterior chain, including the glutes, hamstrings, core and lower back.

There are some real advantages to using a cable machine but there is also one obvious disadvantage; it requires a pretty expensive machine. 

Most home gyms don’t have a cable pulley machine. Fortunately you can do some very effective cable pull through alternatives at home with dumbbells, resistance bands and nothing but your own bodyweight. 

As an in-home personal trainer I work with people every day with very limited home gym equipment. Many of them are women who are fixated on reshaping their glutes.

As a result, I’ve become pretty adept at coming up with cable pull through alternatives that target the glutes, while also hitting the rest of the posterior chain.

In this article, I’ll lay out the 7 best cable pull through alternatives you can do in your cable-free home gym.

Cable Pull Through Exercise – Proper Form

Here’s how to do the cable pull through with optimized form:

The cable pull-through exercise is a great way to work the muscles of your glutes and hamstrings. Here are the steps to follow to perform the exercise with proper form:

  1. Start by setting up a cable machine with a rope attachment.
  2. Stand facing away from the cable machine, with your feet hip-width apart and knees slightly bent.
  3. Hold the rope attachment with both hands, and then step forward so that your arms are extended and the cable is taut.
  4. Bend at the waist, keeping your back straight, and lower your torso until it is almost parallel to the floor.
  5. Keep your core tight, and then use your glutes and hamstrings to pull the rope through your legs and back to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions, focusing on maintaining proper form and keeping the movement controlled.

Personal Trainer Tips

  • Start by selecting the right weight. It should be heavy enough to challenge you but not so heavy that you can’t maintain good form.
  • Remember to breathe throughout the movement, keep your movements controlled, and avoid swinging or using momentum. If you feel any pain or discomfort, stop and adjust your form.
  • Let the cable pull you forward, keeping your arms extended and your back straight, until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings.
  • Make sure to stretch your hamstrings and glutes after your workout to prevent injury and improve flexibility.

Cable Pull Through Benefits

While it is possible to simulate the cable pull through movement with other, less expensive, equipment, you should use a cable if you can. Here are four reasons why cables are a superior option:

  1. Consistent resistance: The cable machine provides constant resistance throughout the range of motion, while the resistance of dumbbells decreases as they are lifted away from the body.
  2. Increased activation: The cable version of the exercise allows for greater activation of the glutes and hamstrings due to the constant tension.
  3. Improved stability: Cable pull-throughs require the core to stabilize the torso, resulting in improved overall stability and core strength.
  4. Targeted muscles: Cable pull-throughs target the glutes and hamstrings more effectively than the dumbbell version, making it a great option for those looking to build these specific muscle groups.

Cable Pull Through Muscles Worked

Cable Pull Through Muscles Used

The cable pull through does an effective job of working the entire posterior chain. The key muscles worked are:

Gluteus Maximus

The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the human body and is located in the buttock region. It originates from the posterior aspect of the ilium and sacrum bones and inserts into the iliotibial band of the thigh. 

Its main function is to extend the hip joint, allowing for movements such as walking, running, jumping, and climbing stairs. It also helps to stabilize the pelvis and maintain proper posture.


The hamstrings are a group of three muscles in the back of the thigh that originate from the ischial tuberosity of the pelvic bone and insert into the tibia and fibula bones of the lower leg. These muscles include the biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus.

The hamstrings play a crucial role in several movements of the lower body, including:

  • Hip extension (moving the thigh backwards, such as during a leg curl exercise)
  • Knee flexion (bending the knee, such as during a squat exercise)
  • Dynamic stability during activities such as running, jumping and cutting.

Erector Spinae

The erector spinae muscles are a group of three muscles located in the back that run vertically along the spine. These muscles include the iliocostalis, longissimus, and spinalis muscles.

The main function of the erector spinae muscles is to extend the spine and maintain proper posture. They also play a role in rotating and laterally flexing the trunk, as well as supporting the weight of the upper body during physical activity.


The iliopsoas muscle is a composite muscle formed by two muscles: the iliacus and the psoas major. It originates in the pelvis and inserts into the femur bone. The iliopsoas muscle is responsible for hip flexion and stabilizes the hip joint.

It plays a crucial role in activities such as walking, running, climbing stairs, and rising from a seated position. Additionally, it helps to maintain proper posture by keeping the pelvis level and preventing excessive inward curvature of the lower spine (lumbar lordosis).


The core muscles refer to the muscles in the abdomen and lower back that play a crucial role in supporting the spine and maintaining balance and stability of the body. The main core muscles are:

  • Rectus Abdominis: This is the “six-pack muscle” that runs vertically down the front of the abdomen. Its primary function is to flex the spine forward.
  • Transverse Abdominis: This muscle wraps around the torso like a corset and helps to stabilize the spine.
  • External Oblique: These muscles are located on either side of the rectus abdominis and allow for rotation and side bending of the torso.
  • Internal Oblique: Similar to the external oblique, these muscles are located just beneath them and also help with rotation and side bending.
  • Erector Spinae: This group of muscles runs along the spine and helps to extend and rotate the back.

The core muscles work together to support the spine and control movements of the torso, hips, and shoulders, enabling you to maintain good posture, balance, and stability during various physical activities.

Equipment Needed for These Exercises

7 Cable Pull Through Alternatives that Replicate the Same Movement Pattern

Cable Pull Through Alternative Infographic part 1

1. Band Pull Through

Equipment needed for the band pull through:

How to do the band pull through:

  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. 

Band pull through muscles worked:

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings

2. Banded Good Morning

Equipment needed for the banded good morning:

How to do the banded good morning:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and a loop resistance band under your feet and over your neck so that the band travels up the front of your body.
  2. Maintaining a slight bend in your knees, hinge your hips to bring your torso down to a near parallel position. Make sure that your shins remain vertical and do not round your back.
  3. Return to the start position.

Banded good morning muscles worked:

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings

3. Dumbbell Good Morning

Equipment needed for the dumbbell good morning:

SMRFT Nüobell 80LB Adjustable Dumbbells

SMRFT Nüobell 80LB Classic
Read our best adjustable dumbbell guide here

These are the dumbbells we recommend for ‘most people’.

We have spent over 50 hours of research and compared over 100 dumbbells. Adjustable dumbbells make sense for most home gyms as they save space.

The Nüobell dumbbells go all the way to 80lbs per hand. This means they are much more versatile than most 50lbs adjustable dumbbells. You can use these for heavy shrugs, squats and bench press etc.

The main reason they are the top pick is because of their shape. They actually feel like real dumbbells and are not awkward to lift like some others.

How to do the dumbbell good morning:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and a dumbbell hugged into your chest with your palms facing in.
  2. Maintaining an upright torso with a neutral spine position, pivot at the hips to push your butt back as you lower your torso to a parallel position.
  3. Reverse the motion to return to the start position.  Push your hips forward and squeeze your glutes as you return to the start position. 

Good morning muscles worked:

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Lower back

4. Glute Bridge

Equipment needed for the glute bridge:

  • None

How to do the glute bridge:

  1. Lie on the floor on your back with your knees bent and arms on the floor at your sides. Your knees should be hip-width apart.
  2. Contract your core and press your heels into the floor as you lift your hips into the air. Go up until a straight line is formed from your shoulders to your knees.
  3. Contract your glutes strongly in the top position. 
  4. Hold for 3 seconds.
  5. Lower under control and repeat.

Glute bridge muscles worked:

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Lower back

Cable Pull Through Alternative Infographic part 2

5. Donkey Kickback

Equipment needed for the glute bridge:

  • None

How to do the glute bridge:

  1. Get down on all fours, with your hands directly under your shoulders. Your knees should be directly under your hips. Maintain a neutral spine with a flat back and tuck your chin in.
  2. Contract your core and, without straightening the knee, kick your right leg back and up behind you. The only movement should come from the hip joint. Stop when the right leg forms a straight line with your torso.
  3. Return to the start position and repeat. Do all reps on the right leg and then repeat on the left leg.

Glute bridge muscles worked:

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Lower back

6. Kettlebell Swings

Equipment needed for the kettlebell swing:

  • Kettlebell

How to do the kettlebell swing:

  1. Place the kettlebell on the floor  in front of you.
  2. Put your weight on your heels while you stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  3. Reach down and take the handle with both hands in an overhand grasp while leaning back into your hips.
  4. Swing the bell between your legs and as you aggressively stand up, snap your hips forwards. Squeeze your butt while extending your spine while you do this.
  5. Raise your arms to your chest.
  6. Lower under control and repeat.

Kettlebell swing muscles worked:

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Lower back
  • Core

7. Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift

Equipment needed for dumbbell Romanian deadlift:

How to do the dumbbell Romanian deadlift:

  1. Stand with your hip width apart and a pair of dumbbells held at your sides.
  2. Maintaining an upright torso and tight core, hinge at the hips to push the butt back.
  3. As your torso comes down to a parallel position, bring the dumbbells to the front of the body.
  4. Squeeze the glutes as you return to the start position. 

Dumbbell Romanian deadlift muscles worked:

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Lower back

Cable Pull Through Alternatives: The Bottom Line

The cable pull through is a very effective exercise that keeps constant tension on your glutes and hamstrings. If you have access to a cable machine, I definitely recommend doing it.

However, if you’re training at home and don’t have a cable machine, you’ve now got 7 effective cable pull through alternatives. 

Try each of these exercises to find the two or three that give you the best posterior chain activation. Add them to your workout, doing 3-4 sets of 8-20 reps for each exercise.

Check out some cable machine alternatives you can do at home with our 10 cable crossover alternatives.

Want to improve your home gym?

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  • The 4 items of kit every gym needs
  • What you should avoid
  • Where to find bargains and discounts

Click here to learn more about how to build a home gym.

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Steve is a certified personal trainer, current home gym owner, former gym owner, and copywriter. He joined his first gym at age 15 and, five years later, he was managing his own studio. In 1987, he became the first personal fitness trainer in New Zealand.

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