Im constantly looking for deadlift alternatives for my home workout program (or for home workouts in general, not only for me). This time I stumbled over an exercise called cable pull throughs (you can also do this with resistance bands).

Pull throughs

With bodybuilding aims in mind, how does this exercise compare to a tradidional deadlift in training effects and safety?

How far can it be a substitude for a deadlift? What other exercises do you suggest to make the cable pull through together with those other exercises a good deadlift alternative?

I am also intersted in biomechanical details.

  • 1
    Well, it really isn't the same. There really isn't replacing the Deadlift in terms of pulling strength. However, for bodybuilding Deadlifting isn't a must. As long as you Squat, you can add Good Mornings, Back Raises, glute work (if Squatting is insufficient for you) and hamstring isolation. Should be enough. Jan 25 '14 at 12:42
  • Why are you looking for an alternative? Is it a location restriction (you don't have the room or ability to deadlift where you are), physical (you have a physical limitation like a lower back problem) or equipment (you just don't have a barbell)? Jan 26 '14 at 15:01
  • Equipment and location restriction. Even if this were not the case I would be interested in it because of "theoretical" reasons, since I am in general interested in what is possible with "home" equipment.
    – Sarah
    Jan 27 '14 at 16:15
  • @ssteinberg agreed, deadlifts for bodybuilders are rare, even squats can be limited as you can get "blocky" around the hips. In bodybuilding you want to have a noticeable difference between your shoulders and your hips, you don't want to have big glutes. I'm not saying never do squats, just make sure that you don't go past 90 and spend a lot of time on the sleigh / hack squats. Jan 28 '14 at 16:05

No, the cable pull will not be a perfect substitute for a deadlift.

Looking at the pictures above, it's very clear that the angle of the cable pull is much different than that of a typical deadlift. As a result, the effects on the engaged muscles will be different from those engaged in deadlift.

A traditional deadlift engages your thigh and arms' muscles during the lifting and dropping movements and then your core, shoulder, and leg muscles for stability once the lifter is standing erect. Also, there's a downward vertical pull from the weight, which is balanced by your entire body.

The cable pull, on the other hand, works at an angle. Your pivot point isn't your leg but your waist. There's a backward pull on your body, which you have to counteract.

The cable pull seems to be a substitute for the kettlebell swing; even the movements seem similar (at least from the pictures).

If a home is big enough for a cable pull exercise (which requires a big equipment), it should be sufficiently big for a barbell and weights.

So, obtain the proper equipment and perform the exercises right :).

  • I am doing pull throughs with heavy resistance bands, which doesn't need much space. The problem with getting barbells is not just the space but also the floor pavement protection...
    – Sarah
    Apr 5 '14 at 8:36
  • @Sarah ahh.....I got what you're saying. I have similar problem too about the floor pavement protection. I have to make efforts to bring the barbell down gently. Hopefully, I'll figure out a solution for that later. But I won't let that stop me from using the barbell.... it's gorgeous :) Apr 5 '14 at 8:51

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