Hack Squats can be an effective way to build strength and muscle mass in your legs, particularly targeting the quads, glutes, and hamstrings. Hack squats are similar to traditional squats, but use a specific machine that can slightly alter the range of motion and take some stress off the posterior chain.
In this guide, I will cover everything you need to know about Hack Squats, including the proper technique, benefits, variations, and common mistakes to avoid.
How To Do Hack Squats
- Hack Squat machine
Will vary slightly depending upon the machine, but the legs and glutes should always be heavily involved:
- Position yourself on the hack squat machine*, with your back against the pad and your shoulders under the shoulder pads.
- Place your feet shoulder-width apart on the platform, with your toes pointing slightly outward.
- Grasp the handles on either side of the machine (if available).
- Breathe in and brace your core.
- Slowly lower your body by bending at the knees and hips, keeping your head up and your back straight.
- Continue lowering your body until your thighs are parallel to the platform that your feet are standing on.
- Then drive through your feet to raise your body back up to the starting position.
- Repeat for your desired number of reps.
*Not all Hack Squat machines are the same. Technique, muscles worked and more can and will vary depending on the specific machine you’re using. If in doubt, make sure to speak with someone about how to use the machine in your gym.
You should always start light (especially as a beginner) with any exercise and gradually work toward using heavier weights. This is even more important if you’re working with a machine that you’re unfamiliar with. Always get a feel for the machine first before adding any weight.
Benefits of Hack Squats
Hack squats can improve your leg strength and power as well as build size and muscle mass.
If you’re looking to add variety to your lower body workouts, Hack Squats are a great option. If you generally stick to more traditional movements like Back Squats and Front Squats (which I recommend) then adding in some Hack Squats from time to time can help keep you workouts fresh.
Hack Squat Alternatives
Need a Hack Squat alternative? Whether you don’t have a Hack Squat machine or you’re just looking for another option, here are a couple of exercises you may be able to use as a substitution.
Want more choices? Here are 11 of my favorite Hack Squat alternatives.
Back Squat is the king of all strength-building exercises and would be my first suggestion for anyone able to do them. If your technique is sound, there is no better exercise you can do to build lower body strength and hypertrophy.
If you’re not comfortable with your squat technique, then Leg Press may be a viable option.
Most Leg Press machines are very similar to Hack Squat machines. Instead of supporting weight on your shoulders and squatting, a Leg Press machine has you sit down and press the platform itself with your legs.
More Links and Info
Need a training program? The Horton Barbell Shop contains a wide variety of programs from Sports Performance Programs to Beach Ready Programs. So, whether you’re looking to improve in your sport, just want to look good at the beach or anything in between – we have a program for you!
If you’d like to check out more lower body exercises, then head over to the Lower Body Lifts section of our Exercise Library. There you’ll find dozens of movements, all with complete detailed instructions.