Cable Pull Through vs. Hip Thrust – Differences and Technique

The hip thrust, cable pull through, and other hinging movements all are important for maximal development of the posterior chain and power production in most athletic sports (glute and hamstring control and strength). Two well known movements for increase hamstring and glute muscle growth and activation are cable pull throughs and hip thrusts, each of which offering similar yet distinct benefits.

[Kettlebell swing vs. cable pull throughs? Get the answers here!]

Therefore, in this article we will briefly review both movements to help you determine which movement is best for you and/or your athlete’s needs and goals.

Cable Pull Through

In an earlier article we discussed the benefits and video demo on how to properly perform cable pull throughs. The below video demonstrates how to properly perform the cable pull through for glute and hamstring activation and muscular hypertrophy.

[Before you do cable pull throughs, make sure you actually are doing them correctly! Read here for more!]

Hip Thrust

The hip thrusts was briefly covered in an earlier article where I discussed safe and effective alternatives to the cable pull through. Below is a quick demo video of how to perform this movement, which can be done at slow speeds, higher velocities, and with heavier loads.

Distinct Differences

Below are four noteworthy factors that may impact the effectiveness of either moves in a training regimen. Coaches and athletes should familiarize themselves with these so that they can best choose an exercise based on the individual athlete, goals, and abilities.

Complexity

Both of these movements are fairly simple to grasp. In the hip thrust, the lifter is cross-sectional on a bench for support, and is asked to simply, “raise and  lower their hips without over-arching the back). While most may not have issues with this movement (the patterning) their may be limitations with hip mobility and/or lack of control. The cable pull through is another simple movement for most, however it may demand slightly more focus, balance, and hip/hamstring control.

Time Under Tension

Both of these movements are loaded throughout the eccentric and concentric contraction phases, which can increase time under tension, microtraumas, and the metabolic stressors needed to promote muscular growth. Unlike the cable systems, the barbell hip thrust is often harder when the hips are in the lowest, most flexed position, as the leverages are disadvantageous to lifters. The cables do offer constant, unwavering loading, however this can be countered by the ability to load the hip thrusts with more weight.

Ease of Use

Both movements are fairly simple to set up, and offer pretty good results when done correctly. Personally, I find the cables to be slightly easier to set up (assuming you have a cable stack), however the barbell set up isn’t an issue for most. As loads progress however (couple hundred pounds, or with more bony lifters) the barbell can dig into the pelvis during the hip thus, diminishing the reasoning to include the hip thrust.

Sport Specificity/Purpose

The ability to load the hip thrust to a heavier loading scheme allows stronger athletes the ability to add quality, dense, strong mass to their glutes, hamstrings, and hips without stressing the lower back. For general hamstring health, the cable pull through can be used as knee flexion is less throughout the range of motion, forcing the lifter to increase their range of motion in the hamstrings and hips.

Final Word

Both of these movements are great options for coaches and athletes to add quality low-stress glute, hamstring, and posterior chain movement to increase hypeworthy, movement patterning, and general size and strength,.

Featured Image: @_mvfit on Instagram

Mike Dewar

Mike Dewar

Mike holds a Master's in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Mike has been with BarBend since 2016, where he covers Olympic weightlifting, sports performance training, and functional fitness. He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and is the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at New York University, in which he works primarily with baseball, softball, track and field, cross country. Mike is also the Founder of J2FIT, a strength and conditioning brand in New York City that offers personal training, online programs for sports performance, and has an established USAW Olympic Weightlifting club.

In his first two years writing with BarBend, Mike has published over 500+ articles related to strength and conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, strength development, and fitness. Mike’s passion for fitness, strength training, and athletics was inspired by his athletic career in both football and baseball, in which he developed a deep respect for the barbell, speed training, and the acquisition on muscle.

Mike has extensive education and real-world experience in the realms of strength development, advanced sports conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, and human movement. He has a deep passion for Olympic weightlifting as well as functional fitness, old-school bodybuilding, and strength sports.

Outside of the gym, Mike is an avid outdoorsman and traveller, who takes annual hunting and fishing trips to Canada and other parts of the Midwest, and has made it a personal goal of his to travel to one new country, every year (he has made it to 10 in the past 3 years). Lastly, Mike runs Rugged Self, which is dedicated to enjoying the finer things in life; like a nice glass of whiskey (and a medium to full-bodied cigar) after a hard day of squatting with great conversations with his close friends and family.

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