Primary Muscle Group: Quads, hamstrings, glutes
Secondary Muscle Group: Hamstrings, Glutes and lower back
Equipment Needed: Hack Squat, Weighted Plates
The Benefits of Hack Squat
Hack squats are essentially just a variation of the standard squat but done on a specific exercise machine.
To use the hack squat machine, you stand on a fixed platform (facing away from the machine) beneath shoulder pads that bear however much weight you select.
Typically, that platform is angled so that your toes are slightly below your heels, positioning your body as if you are doing traditional squats with weight plates under your heels. Why? "This reduces your need to have lots of ankle mobility in order to correctly perform the movement.
This stable positioning means hack squats involve a different movement pattern than traditional squats. "In a standard squat, the hips move back while the knees bend. In hack squats, since your hips are in a fixed position, your knees do most of the work.
As a result of this, your quads are the main muscle worked in hack squats than in other squat variations, which distribute the work among your quads, hamstrings, glutes and lower back a little better.
If you are looking for other exercises that are the best for building muscle or wanting to lose body fat then you should check our Free Workout Plan or our Workout Plans With Coaching for professionally designed workout plans that have been proven to get results.
The Risks of doing Hack Squat
Hack squats don’t work the hamstrings, glutes, or lower back very well which means you can develop muscle imbalances in your legs.
The hack squat can be very hard on your knees because of the movement and body positioning during the exercise. This is not good if the hips and knees don't move in-sync, you could risk knee injuries from overuse or over-flexing the joint.
How To Do Hack Squat
1. Load the machine with the desired weight and position your shoulders and back against the pads.
2. Position your feet at shoulder width, extend your legs, and release the safety handles.
3. Slowly lower the weight by bending your knees until your thighs are approximately at 90 degrees.
4. Reverse the movement by driving into the platform and extending the knees and hips.
5. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
For Perfect Technique
To keep tension on the quads, keep the knees just shy of lockout.
In order to emphasize the glutes more, push through the heels.
In order to emphasize the quads more, push through the balls of the feet.
Don’t allow the hips to posteriorly tilt and roll off the pad.
Keep your low back flat against the pad throughout the movement.
Ensure the head does not jut forward excessively.
Self spotting is possible by simply applying pressure to the knees with the hands. Use only when necessary.
Toe angle is individual and will depend upon each individual’s hip anatomy and ankle mobility - experiment and adjust based upon feel.
Once you have mastered the Hack Squat you can try alternative exercises that target similar muscle groups such as;
How To Do A Wide Leg Squat
1. Take a extra wide stance.
2. Squat down by bending hips back while allowing your knees to bend forward, keeping back straight and knees pointed same direction as feet.
3. Descend until your thighs are just about past parallel to the floor.
4. Extend your knees and hips until legs are straight.
How To Do a Lunge
1. Stand tall with feet hip-width apart. Engage your core.
2. Take a big step forward with right leg. Start to shift your weight forward so heel hits the floor first.
3. Lower your body until right thigh is parallel to the floor and right shin is vertical. It’s OK if knee shifts forward a little as long as it doesn’t go past right toe. If mobility allows, lightly tap left knee to the floor while keeping weight in right heel.
4. Press into right heel to drive back up to starting position.
5. Repeat on the other side.