Improving Exercise Technique: Pull-Throughs
I know some reading are going to scoff at the title of this post and immediately go off on some diatribe about how pull-throughs are so 2002 and about why we’re even having this conversation in the first place when we can just mosey on over to the corner of the gym, grab a kettlebell, and swing away to our hearts content.
Everyone knows that kettlebells are far superior in every way – whether we’re referring to hip hinge patterning, posterior chain strength, explosiveness, overall conditioning, or some of its lesser known uses like how awesome it is as a door stopper, fish line sinker, or paper weight.
I agree that kettlebells are fantastic tool in the exercise toolbox, very versatile, and something that I implement into my programs quite often. However, as with anything else, there’s a time and place for them.
In my opinion pull-throughs are one of the more underrated exercises out there, which is unfortunate because it offers a lot of advantages in its own right.
A look at from a few vantage points:
1. It’s very user friendly. Granted, with proper coaching, a KB swing can be easily taught within 5-10 minutes. The key point to consider, though, is “proper coaching.” I don’t know about you, but Iv’e been in my fair share of commercial gyms and I can count on one hand the total number of times I’ve seen someone perform a proper KB swing – and this includes those who are actually under the supervision of a trainer!
Needless to say, there’s a lot more to a KB swing than just casually picking one up and hoisting it around like it’s some kind of toy light saber.
I find that pull-throughs are a much more “convenient” way to introduce the hip hinge pattern to people – especially those with limited training experience under their belt.
What’s more, not everyone has access to kettlebells, and pretty much everyone has access to a cable system. So there.
2. Furthermore, and going along with the whole versatility angle, pull-throughs are a staple amongst powerlifters (it’s a fantastic accessory exercise for the hamstrings and glutes), as well as beginners who are just learning their way around the weightroom.
3. Likewise, there’s very little spinal loading (assuming form is up to snuff) so it’s a fantastic option for those people working around back pain as it forces people to learn to dissociate the hips from the lumbar spine. If anything it helps to slow people down, which is an important factor when trying to learn a new pattern.
All that said, despite the seemingly innocuous nature of the exercise people tend to butcher its execution. In the video below I discuss some common mistakes as well as a few coaching cues I often use to help clean up technique. Hope it helps!