The Better PVC Pass-Through
Video by TJ O’Brien

We see you doing those lazy PVC pass-throughs when you’re waiting for class to start. Sure, you might be getting a little something out of loosely rotating your shoulders in their sockets but you could be getting so much more from this simple movement.

Next time any overhead movement pops up in the programming – be it pressing, overhead squats, handstand push-ups or even waiter carries – give this active version of the pass-through a try instead.

How to do an Active PVC Pass-Through

1. Hold the PVC at your hips with arms straight and your grip just outside of your hips.

2. Tuck your tail under, squeeze your glutes and lock down your ribs so you don’t cheat the intended range of motion (ROM) in your shoulders by being loose in the midline.

3. Actively pull the PVC apart as if you were trying to tear it in two. Hold this for 10 seconds while you work on activating the lats and upper back WITHOUT elevating your upper traps. Think about pulling the bar into your hips by squeezing your shoulder blades back and down.

4. Find your “sticking point” in your pass-through by moving your hands out to the widest position you can. Activate your shoulder blades like you did in Step 3 but in this wider grip. Try to bring your straight arms over the top of your body and then touch your back with the PVC. If this is very easy to achieve, move your hands in until you can barely not pass over the top. That’s your sticking point.

5. Once you are in your sticking point with the PVC overhead, you can do some internal and external rotator activation. For either version, you must reset your active position as you did in Step 3, but with the PVC overhead and everything must stay straight i.e. your arms, neck, torso and legs. To focus on the external rotators, pull the bar apart and back over your head as far as you can (which should only be a couple of inches if you are in your sticking point). To focus on internal rotators, push your hands together (without actually moving them closer to one another) and press down on the bar so it moves in all the way down to your hips.

6. Now move the PVC to behind your back and hold it at hip width with your palms facing back. Again, tuck your tail, squeeze your glutes and lock down your ribs by bracing your abs. Squeeze your shoulder blades back and down to activate your upper back. You should also feel your triceps activate here and you certainly want those awake when you’re getting ready to press. Accumulate 10 seconds in this static position.

7. Now for some lift-offs which is exactly what it sounds like but harder than it looks. Don’t expect to get mega ROM from this and remember that we are trying to activate the upper back, shoulders and pressing muscles so make sure to keep pulling that PVC apart, while maintaining your tight midline and neutral chin as you put as much distance as possible between the PVC and your back. Do a few reps in different grip positions and hold each rep for 5 seconds.

8. Finally, bring the bar back to the front and just a slight bit wider than your sticking point. Now complete the full pass-through, but actively this time!

Who knew pass-throughs could do this much? We are sure you’ll love this improved version to prep you for crushing those pressing days.