The cable pull through is a very effective posterior chain strengthening exercise, especially if you’re looking to develop your glutes and hamstrings.

There are plenty of great options I give my clients if they don't have access to a cable machine. 

In this article I'm going to share with you the 11 best cable pull through alternative exercises to develop your glutes and hamstrings.

The cable machine is perfect for developing muscle size and strength due to longer time under tension and it's ideal for targeted muscle isolation. If you don’t have a cable machine in your home gym and can’t perform the traditional cable pull through movement, there are many other exercises that work the same muscles.

Let's dive in to the best 11 cable pull through alternatives you can do at home. 

1. Cable Hip Flexion

woman doing cable hip flexion exercise

The cable hip flexion is a fantastic alternative to cable pull through as it works the glutes max, glutes minimis, and hip flexors.

As you’re working each leg individually, it allows you to iron out any muscular imbalances that might have occurred from working the muscles bi-laterally.

The movement fully isolates the glutes and enables you to move them through an extensive range of motion.  If you don't have access to the cable machine you can also do this exercise with a resistance band.


  • Builds strong hip flexors which help protect you from risk of injury.
  • Improves athletic performance.
  • Helps improve stability in your pelvis. 

How to do a cable hip flexion: 

  1. Set the cable pulley to the lowest setting and attach an ankle strap. 
  2. Attach the strap to your right ankle step away from the machine (with your back towards the weight stack). 
  3. Drive your knee upward and slowly lower to the starting position. 
  4. Repeat for several reps, then swap legs.

Tips From A Trainer!

Place an upright bench in front of you, slightly offset so you can hold it for balance. 

2. Dimel Deadlifts

Man Doing Dimel Deadlifts

This cable rope pull through alternative is named after powerlifting champion Matt Dimel who loved using this partial rep ballistic deadlift variation. 

It primarily hits your glutes and hamstrings, and build powerful hip extension.


  • Builds a strong posterior chain.
  • Improves core and back strength.
  • Increases power for sports performance.

How To Do A Dimel Deadlift:

  1. Place a barbell in front of you with your feet placed under the bar hip-width apart. 
  2. Bend your knees slightly and hinge from your hips. 
  3. Hold the barbell with an overhand shoulder-width grip. 
  4. Pick the barbell up and straighten your body until you’re upright. 
  5. Perform a partial rep, stopping just below the knee and explosively firing the hips forward to straighten up. 
  6. Repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

Keep your core braced and your back tight when performing the Dimel Deadlift to ensure you are protecting your spine.  

3. Band Lying Hip Flexion 

Man Doing Band Lying Hip Flexion

The band lying hip flexion exercise helps develop your hip flexors, increasing stability and reducing injury risk.

This particular exercise is brilliant for runners and is suitable for rehabilitation programs. It works similarly to the cable hip flexion, but with the exception that you're lying down, and it’s banded.


  • Very effective exercise in strengthening the hip flexor muscles.
  • Improves hip mobility.
  • Helps safeguard against sports injury.

How To Do banded lying hip flexion:

  1. Fix a band around the middle of each foot and rest one heel on a bench.
  2. Lying flat, draw one knee toward your chest in a steady motion and return to the start. 
  3. Complete your set and swap legs.

Tips From A Trainer!

Keep this movement slow and controlled and pause for a couple of seconds when you draw your knee towards your chest to get the most out of this exercise.  

4. Sled Pull-through 

Man Doing Sled Pull-Through Exercise

No cable machine? No problem, you don’t need one for this pull through movement.

This unusual cable pull through alternative only trains your muscles concentrically, meaning you’ll have less muscle soreness from this type of movement.

It causes less DOMS, so it’s suitable for athletes who don’t want to affect their future training performance.

However, if you don't have the necessary equipment, you can check out sled push alternative exercises.


  • Builds full body power and strength.
  • Increases lower body muscle mass.
  • Increase full body hypertrophy due to time under tension. 

How To Do a sled pull-through:

  1. Attach straps with handles to a sled and step over the straps (with your back to the sled).
  2. Keeping your hands between your legs, hinge from your hips and walk forward until the straps have tension.
  3. Drive your hips forward and squeeze the glutes. 
  4. Hinge & step forward, then repeat the movement.

Tips From A Trainer!

Keep your back flat whilst your hips travel backwards. You can make sure you're holding this position by having a braced core and keep your chin tucked. 

Related Article - Power Clean Alternatives

5. Glute Ham Machine Raise 

Man Doing Glute Ham Machine Raise

As far as cable pull through alternative exercises go, the glute-ham machine raise is pretty challenging to perform, and I recommend more advanced gym-goers only attempt it.

The movement places your hamstrings through a large range of motion, stretching them to their fullest. Not only does it help with muscle growth, but it improves hamstring flexibility and hip strength. 

If you don’t have the equipment, check out another cable pull through substitute on this list.


  • One of the most effective exercises for strengthening posterior chain muscles.
  • Increases hamstring and glute hypertrophy.
  • Will improve sports performance and compound lifts.

How To Do A Glute-Ham Raise:

  1. Take some time to adjust the height and length of the glute-ham machine, this will change how your body moves, so it's essential to adjust it to suit your body. 
  2. Lie on the glute-ham machine and place your feet into the foot anchors. 
  3. Lower your body until your legs are completely straight. 
  4. Hinge from your hips, pushing them into the support pad. Then as your approach 90-degrees, your knees should be bent. 
  5. Lower yourself towards the floor slowly, and repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

The set up is key with a glute ham raise. Make sure you adjust the machine so that your knees are fully supported by the pads.

6. Banded Pull Through

Man Doing Banded Pull Throughs

The banded pull through is a like-for-like cable rope pull through alternative, which swaps the cable for a resistance band. It’s ideal for home gyms as it doesn’t require a large cable machine, only a resistance band and an anchor point.

As you’re using a resistance band, the strength curve of the movement will differ from the cable pull through. The cable generally has a consistent tension throughout the exercise.

In contrast, the resistance band is easier at the start and becomes more difficult as the band lengthens near the top of the movement.


  • Increased resistance at hardest part of the movement.
  • Can be easily done at home.
  • Increases flexibility in the hamstrings. 

How To Do a banded pull through:

  1. Fix a resistance band to a sturdy anchor point, roughly one foot from the ground. 
  2. Stand over the band and grab the band with both hands (keeping the band between your legs). 
  3. Stand upright and walk a few feet away to create tension. 
  4. Hinge from the hips while keeping a straight back. 
  5. Stop when your upper body is parallel to the floor with your hamstrings at full stretch. 
  6. Fire your hips forwards, squeezing the glutes, and repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

Keep your core engaged to keep your back straight during this exercise. 

7. Kettlebell Swings

man doing kettlebell swings

The kettlebell swing uses the same movement pattern as the cable pull through. But, this substitute for cable pull through is performed more explosively, making it perfect for increasing muscle power generation.

When the kettlebell swing is performed using heavy enough weight, it’s incredibly effective at developing explosive power for sports. It primarily develops your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back.

If you don't have access to a kettlebell but still want to reap the benefits of this exercise, there are various kettlebell swing alternatives you can try.

This cable pull through alternative is brilliant for all experience levels.


  • Builds strength in the posterior chain.
  • Creates lower body power explosive power.
  • Improves core strength. 

How To Do a kettlebell swing:

  1. Stand over a kettlebell with your feet hip-width apart and pointing forward. 
  2. Hinge from the hips and hold the kettlebell. 
  3. Drive your hips forward and allow the kettlebell to move with the momentum. Your body will now be upright, and your arms raised out front holding the kettlebell. 
  4. Allow the kettlebell to swing back between your legs and return to the starting position.

Tips From A Trainer!

Don’t use your arms during kettlebell swings, they’re just a pivot point for the kettlebell. All the power comes from hip extension.

8. Banded Hip Abduction

Woman Doing Seated Banded Hip Abduction Exercise

The band seated abduction is one of the best alternative cable pull through exercises around. It’s straightforward to perform, so it’s suitable for beginners, and it barely requires any equipment other than a seat and resistance band.

This cable pull through alternative is excellent for working your abductors and glutes, and it also helps improve your mobility and hip flexion. I’ve found the banded hip abduction is a fantastic exercise to add to the end of your leg day. 


  • Increases strength in the adductors which is important for injury prevention.
  • Improves stabalization in the hips.
  • Increases range of motion for the hip joint.

How To Do a banded hip abduction:

  1. Place a resistance band above your knees, placed around your thighs. 
  2. Sit on a seat or bench. 
  3. Keep your body upright at 90-degrees and push your thighs outwards while squeezing the glutes together. 
  4. Slowly return to the beginning and repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

For the best results from this exercise, try holding the end position for a couple of seconds to get the most engagement through the adductors and hips. 

9. Overhead Medicine Ball Throw 

Man Doing Overhead Medicine Ball Throw

This alternative exercise for cable pull through involves a powerful hip hinge movement followed by a hip extension.

Ideally, the overhead medicine ball throw should be performed outside unless you have a ridiculously high ceiling in your home gym.  

As this movement is performed explosively, it's excellent for developing power in your posterior chain, making it ideal for sports-specific training.


  • Builds full body explosive power. 
  • Improves sports performance. 
  • Increases cardiovascular fitness.

How To Do an overhead medicine ball throw:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart while holding a medicine ball placed in front of your hips. 
  2. Brace your core muscles and draw your shoulder blades back and down. 
  3. Lean forward, hinging from your hips, and lower the ball towards the floor. Keep a neutral spine throughout the movement. 
  4. Keep your arms straight and explosively fire the hips forwards, standing up straight, throwing the ball overhead. 
  5. Retrieve the ball and repeat it several times to finish your set.

Tips From A Trainer!

Don’t throw the ball straight up, as what goes up must come down... and you don’t want a heavy medicine ball on your head. Throw the ball backwards. 

10. Romanian Deadlift (RDL)

Man Doing Romanian Deadlift

Romanian deadlifts look and feel similar to the cable pull through as they follow the same hip hinge movement pattern, working your hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. The main difference is the placement of the weight and the way the load acts on your body.

During this cable pull through alternative, the weight loads the front of your body which places more stress on your lower back. But, this isn’t a problem so long as you use good form and maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement.  

If you can't perform this exercise, I suggest you check out RDL alternatives for the similar benefits.


  • Strengthens the hamstrings and glutes.
  • Minimises risk of injury.
  • Builds a powerful posterior chain. 

How To Do a romanian deadlift:

  1. Place a barbell on the floor and stand behind it with your feet hip-width. 
  2. Grab the bar with an overhand grip placed just outside your knees. 
  3. Pick the bar up so you are standing upright and the bar is at your hip, this is the starting position.
  4. Keep a slight bend in your knees, your back straight and hinge from the hips.
  5. Stop at around mid shin, don't let the barbell rest on the floor.
  6. Reverse the movement by driving the hips back towards the bar.
  7. Repeat for desired reps.

Tips From A Trainer!

Make sure you are initiating this hip hinge motion by driving the hips back as you lower the weight towards the floor. Don't let the movement come from a bend at the hips.

11. Barbell Hip Thrust

Woman Doing Barbell Hip Thrusts

If you don’t have space for a cable machine, no problem at all, this cable pull through alternative has your back... or should I say glutes.  

The barbell hip thrust places large amounts of stress on your glutes, causing increased size and strength development.  This cable pull-through substitute is a powerful hip extension exercise and ideal for sports-specific training such as Jiu-Jitsu, wrestling, football, basketball, etc. 


  • Improved lower body strength. 
  • Increases size of glutes.
  • Helps reduce risk of injury in the lower back and knees.

How To Do a barbell hip thrust:

  1. Sit on the floor with your back against a flat bench or step. 
  2. Roll a barbell over your legs until it’s over your hip crease. 
  3. Place your feet at 90-degrees (feet flat). 
  4. Push your hips up and lift the barbell off the floor. 
  5. Adjust yourself, so the bench supports your mid-back. 
  6. Dip your hips and then drive them upwards, squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement. 
  7. Repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

When doing barbell hip thrusts try placing a small resistance band (glute loop) around above your knees; this helps work your glutes through various planes of movement, increasing glute activation.   

Benefits Of Substitute Exercises Over Cable Pull Throughs

One of the main advantages of performing the cable pull through alternative exercises is the various loading patterns and the increased activation of posterior chain muscles.

For example, if you’re looking to develop your glutes, you might want to opt to use the barbell hip thrust as it isolates the glutes and allows you to overload them with large amounts of weight.  

Another reason you might look to use an alternative to cable pull through is the lack of equipment or space. Cable machines take up room, and not all home gyms have machines available. But, switching to a banded pull through requires little space and equipment.  

Plus, sometimes, it’s nice to add variation to your workout routine, so it’s always good to have a variety of exercises in your arsenal. 

Major Muscles That Cable Pull Throughs & Alternate Exercises Work


The hamstrings are placed under significant load during the lowering phase of the movement, and they’re fully stretched at the bottom of the cable pull through [1]. They’re an essential mover for the cable pull through and the alternatives.

Glutes (Especially The Gluteus Maximus)

The glutes are the largest muscle in the body and are often neglected. Failure to work the glutes sufficiently can lead to lower back issues. Strong glutes help prevent injuries; keep them strong, and you’ll be strong.

Lower Back

Even though the cable pull through places less stress on your lower back than other exercises, it’s still worked to some extent. It’s worth noting some of the alternatives on the list above place more stress on the lower back, e.g., the Romanian deadlift.


While it’s not a primary muscle worked during this movement, it does provide stability for your upper body and works in conjunction with your spine.

Erector Spinae

The spinae helps keep your back in a neutral position throughout this movement [2]. Along with your core muscles, it enables you to maintain upper body stability. 

Frequently Asked Cable Pull Through Questions

Can you build muscle with cable pull through exercises? 

You sure can; the cable pull through is a brilliant exercise for developing the hamstrings, lower back, glutes, and core muscles. It helps you create a strong posterior chain similar to the deadlift exercise.

As with any muscle-building movement, you always want to use the principle of progressive overload to stimulate the muscle into growth.

What’s an ideal cable pull-through weight? 

An easy way to assess the best weight for you is to use the phrase "if it's pulling you over, it's too heavy." If you feel you're losing balance during the movement, the likelihood is you're lifting too much weight. Focus on perfecting your form; only then should you up the weight.

Why does cable pull through hurt my back? 

While I'm not a doctor or physiotherapist, one of the most common reasons for lower back pain during a movement is a lack of glute activation.

Focus on glute activation exercises such as glute bridge or hip thrusts to wake up any lazy glute muscles. If the pain is bad, seek help from your doctor or physician. 


If you’ve been looking to perform the cable pull through but can’t due to lack of space, no equipment, or you want to mix things up, my list of cable pull through alternative exercises can get equally great results .

Try adding one or two exercises from this list into your workout routine and build a powerful and strong posterior chain.




Jo Taylor

Jo Taylor

Hi, I’m Jo. I love sunrise swims, cold water immersion and cats. I have been dedicated to strength training for the past 14 years. I became a qualified Personal Trainer in 2020, and am passionate about helping my clients get stronger. Visit Jo Taylors Website