Whenever I start working with a new client – regardless of their experience level – I assess their glute strength. Most people are not activating their glutes correctly when they perform exercises such as squats, lunges and deadlifts. Even the exercise I covered last week, the glute-ham raise, is useless unless you are activating the correct muscle groups.
For a long time, I assumed that I was firing my glutes correctly. It wasn’t until I started regularly performing cable pull-throughs and glute bridges that I realised how little my glutes were actually being activated.
Purpose: Cable pull-throughs are a great exercise for people of all levels. They target the glutes, hamstrings and lower back. Your glutes are the largest muscles in your body, yet most people rarely train them directly. By directly training your glutes, you will be able to squat heavier, sprint faster and jump higher.
Cable pull-throughs not only teach you how to activate your glutes properly, but they are the perfect stepping stone to mastering deadlifts. Pull-throughs teach you how to hinge the hips properly, which is an essential part of deadlifting correctly. If you have never deadlifted before, I would recommend starting with cable pull-throughs and then moving on to straight-legged deadlifts before attempting conventional deadlifts.
Set-up: Attach a rope to a low cable machine. Set the pin at a relatively heavy weight (around 20-30 kilograms). Straddle the rope, facing away from the machine. Hold one end of the rope in each hand. Take three steps forward and stand up straight while holding the rope between your legs. Feet should be hip width apart.
Execution: Allowing your legs to bend only slightly, push your hips backwards until you feel a gentle pull in your hamstrings. Bring your hips forward to return to standing, squeezing your glutes hard at the top position. Keep your back straight throughout the movement.
When you are performing the exercise, you may allow your hands to pass between your legs in the bottom position but all of the movement must come from your hips – do not use your arms to pull the rope forward as you return to an upright position.
Perform these exercises at the beginning of your leg workout, to test your glute activation:
Have you ever tried cable pull-throughs?