Hack Squat: Your weightlifting exercise for Quadriceps and glutes

Hack squat are one of the great exercises out there for quad-building effects. Not only are they great but they’re also a beginner-friendly movement that provides stabilization and support which helps the lifters target the lower body muscle growth, taking the upper body out of the equation. Which also helps the lifters to move through an extended range of motion.

However, Hack squat are a movement that’s completed on the machine of the same name, called Hack Squat Machine.

The benefit of a Hack squat machine is the fact that the machine takes stability out of the equation, which reduces the chance of an injury by putting less brunt on the form and allowing an individual to push their depth without focusing on the upper body. The machine also allows changing one’s positioning safely for muscle targeting and single-leg movements. Below is a brief guide on everything you need to know about Hack squat and the machine.

Hack Squat Machine:

The hack squat is an exceptional compound push exercise that helps to target the quadriceps and glutes and it’s an excellent auxiliary lift for those who are looking to improve the back squat, a brutal final exercise on leg day and those who suffer and are prone to injuries.

Hack Squat Machine is a plate-loaded machine with a lever or sledge apparatus that holds the weight. A fun fact: this machine can be found from the utmost beginner to even the hardest core gyms. That’s right, in case if you have underestimated the Hack Squats or its machine then you better think twice, for you have got another ‘think’ coming.

The hack squat machine targets the quadriceps, a muscle group comprised of four heads namely, Rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius, and vastus medialis (Internus). This exercise also engages the adductor magnus (inner thigh), gluteus maximus and soleus (calf) to assist in the completion of this squat movement.

The gastrocnemius (calf) and hamstrings act as stabilizers during the exercise. So, if you’re looking to trigger some serious quadriceps growth and willing to endure some seriously delayed onset muscle soreness then this exercise is you and you must include the hack squat machine in your work-out routine.

Barbell Hack Squat

barbell hack squat

The barbell hack squat is the first cousin of Hack Squat and is a compound leg exercise which targets the quad muscles, using the hamstrings, glutes, core, calves, hips and lowers back as secondary movers at the same time. It’s more of an intermediate kind of exercise as coordination and balance are required, unlike Hack Squat where the machine takes that out of the equation, to effectively keep the tension equal on both legs.

And it might be funny but barbell hack squat resembles a deadlift more closely than an actual squat because the weights need to be pulled off from the ground just like in a deadlift. Also, it is very effective for building mass and strength, if that’s what you are looking for. However, you cannot use much weight in a Barbell Hack Squat when compared to a normal squat or a deadlift due to the position of the movement.

How to do a Barbell Hack Squat:

  1. First, stand straight with your back pointing to the barbell, that’s right. Barbell needs to be placed behind you. And keep your legs slightly wider than the shoulder-width apart with your feet pointed slightly outward.
  2. Once you have assumed the position, squat down and grab the barbell with a wider than shoulder-width grip.
  3. Keep your back straight, core tight and chest up while lifting the barbell against the back of your legs and try to stand straight by pressing through your heels and exhaling.
  4. Now, slowly lower yourself back down and place the barbell on the ground in its original position just like a deadlift while inhaling.
  5. Repeat.

Reverse Hack Squat

The most common way of building your legs is by practising a reverse hack squat. Why? Well, for beginners if you have gone out for a workout for some time now then you will realize that your legs are quite important while working out as well as their contribution to a well-built body. Why so? That’s because legs form the base of your body and without strong legs, your body will not be in good form and as they say, “Without a strong base, you can’t build a strong building’. And so, ‘Without Strong legs, you cannot build a great muscular body as well, but worry not for the problem can be solved with the help of Reverse Hack Squat. Reverse hack squat, named after Russian bodybuilder and wrestler George Hackenschmidt, are traditionally done using the barbell and are great for building super strong legs. And you can also do a Reverse Hack Squat using either the reverse hack squat machine or the Smith Machine as well.

  • How to do a Reverse Hack Squat:
  1. To do a reverse hack squat using a machine, load the hack machine with the desired amount of weight, depending on your level of training. However, do make sure that you choose just the right weights with which you are comfortable with.
  2. Now place your back on the backrest and your feet on the footplate, width apart. Make sure you position yourself in a manner in which the pads will support your chest and the shoulders.
  3. Lower the weight on the squat hack machine and squat down, until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Pause for a minute in that position.
  4. Then return to the starting position and repeat to perform the desired number of reps.

Hack Squat alternative

Let me just tell you that Hack Squats aren’t for everyone! That’s right and so we have prepared some alternatives for you.

Barbell Back Squats:

Hack squats are often viewed as one of the best barbell squat alternative, but the reverse also holds. Traditional squats with a barbell target the glutes, quads, hamstrings and core in a powerful compound movement but with a hack squat, you’re moving on a fixed angle, and your hips mobility is limited. The main difference between the hack squat and barbell squat is that the need to focus on hip engagement and upper body stability respectively.

Safety Bar Squats:

safety bar squats

If you have a safety squat bar or even access to it then voila! For you have gotten access to a hack squat substitute as well. However, in Safety Bar Squats, the barbell must have cambered ends and two front-facing handles. Squatting with a Safety squat bar is kinda like a hybrid between front and back squats. Why? Well, that’s because the bar is posteriorly loaded, which allows room for a bit more upright angle and trunk stability, which means significantly less pressure on the lower back than with barbell back squats.

Leg Press:

Leg press, yet another Hack Squat alternative in our list, perhaps offers the most similar motion to the hack squat. How? Well, in the hack squat, you push the weight upward while the feet stay on a fixed platform, while in the leg press, you push the weight away from you while your backrests on the fixed stand. Due to this similarity, many gyms have a combination hack squat and leg press machine as well.


The hack squat is the best ways of building muscles in your lower body while at the same time giving a rest to the upper body muscles. It can be difficult for the first time to do the exercise in the right way. However, as time goes you will become more accustomed to the routine and can do the exercise without any challenge.

And in case, you have plans of increasing the weights, make sure that you have a mastered the maintained form, which also happens to be a great mistake that by the way, many of the lifters make. Destroying the form while lifting heavyweights. So, make sure that you don’t make the same mistake and maintain the right form while doing the hack squat. And let me just spell it out for you that in doing so, there is no way you can cheat. Also listen to this, in case you are looking out for ways of cheating when working out, you are not cheating anything or anybody, you will only be cheating yourself and causing harm to your body.

There are cons of the hack squat machine and therefore, not everybody can do Hack squats, however, there are a lot of alternative ways of the exercise that you can always do to have the same benefits as a perfect squat workout without necessarily using hack machine.

Related Article- Bodyweight Squats