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Hack Squat Guide – How to Do, Muscles Worked, Benefits & More

Hack Squat Guide – How to Do, Muscles Worked, Benefits & More

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If you’re looking for a guide on hacking squats, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we’ll give you a step-by-step tutorial on executing this exercise and list the muscles worked and the benefits of doing hack squats. Trust us – once you’ve read this guide, you’ll be a hack squat pro in no time!

So, what exactly is a hack squat? Hack squats are a compound exercise that targets the entire lower body but primarily works the quadriceps (thighs). This exercise can be done with a barbell, Neoprene Dumbbells, and a machine. If you’re new to hack squats, we recommend using a machine at first to get the hang of the movement. Once you feel comfortable, you can try other variants as well.


The machine adds more external support , which is the primary distinction between squatting with a barbell and utilizing the hack squat machine.


As a result, it tends to be more safe for beginners. It can also allow you to focus more on the primary muscles being worked; in this case the quads. Traditional squats have the advantage of being a well-rounded, complex exercise that significantly increases lower body and core strength. With the hack squat exercise, this is not the case.


The hack squat can emphasize the quads and knees because your hips follow a set range of motion and are in a fixed position. A hack squat involves different and fewer target muscles.


Now that we’ve explained what hack squats are, let’s learn how to do a hack squat properly. 


How to Do a Hack Squat

You’ll need to be at the gym because a hack squat requires a machine. However, the hack squat is typically not a suitable choice if you have knee or lower back trouble.


Although the machine helps with stabilization, there will still be a strain on the joints, which could worsen any underlying issues. So, in case you have such a condition, be cautious of it.


Anyhow, here are the steps to follow:

  • Load the weight you want to put on the machine. It is advised for beginners to become accustomed to the machine’s motion before adding a lot of plates.
  • Enter the machine with your feet shoulder-width apart and your shoulders and back against the pads.
  • Release the safety handles, take a deep breath, and lower yourself while bending your knees to a 90-degree angle.
  • Take a moment to breathe, then stretch your legs back to the beginning position by pushing up through the backs of your feet.
  • Work your way up to 3 sets of 10–12 reps. Add more weight once you can do this without any difficulty.


Though the hack squat machine is a beginner-friendly option for this exercise, there is a hack squat version you may perform with a barbell.


This motion is a little more complex. You’ll require upper body strength to sustain enough weight to work your lower body. For newcomers, this can be a difficult proposition.

  • Start with a light barbell.
  • Hold the barbell behind your back at arm’s length. Your feet and grip should be shoulder-width apart.
  • Squat back and down while keeping your chest up, stopping when your thighs are parallel to the ground, and letting the barbell sag as you go.
  • As you return to the beginning posture, lift your heels.

Hack Squat Benefits

The hack squat is a strength training exercise that offers numerous benefits for athletes and recreational lifters. Here are the significant hack squat benefits:

Excellent for Beginners

The hack squat is a fantastic introductory exercise for teaching range of motion, how to drive properly through your feet, and how to brace your core for lifters tired of barbell back squats.


Additionally, there is less opportunity for error in performing the exercise incorrectly, which could result in injury because the weight moves up and down on the bearings.

Lean Muscle Mass and Strength

Like other machine-based exercises, the hack squat can aid in your quest for more significant increases in strength and lean muscle mass. A regulated movement with a fixed form is a hack squat. With a typical barbell back squat, you won’t have to worry about coming out of the pocket position as you press a more significant load. You’ll be able to move through a wider range of motion and with larger loads, building lean muscle mass.


Better Mobility and Posture

The hack’s fixed plane of operation allows you to reach a greater range of motion, which improves hip and ankle mobility. Increased core stability, strength, and enhanced coordination contribute to greater mobility. The hack squat will also significantly improve posture because it moves in a functional form.

Fixed Load Path

Weight lifting machines, like the hack squat machine, provide the main advantage of eliminating the stability and balancing required when utilizing free weights.


You may more effectively target the large muscles in your legs without worrying about losing your balance because the weight—whether you are utilizing the sled’s initial weight or adding Bumper Plates to it—is moving in a fixed course.


Lifting in this manner has several benefits, whether you’re recovering from an injury, hitting the gym for the first time, or you want to use your muscles differently.

Controlled Form

Movement with big loads requires complicated form and is difficult. The hack squat has the advantage of regulated, fixed movement. The hack squat helps you with functional strength training exercises like the back and front squat because it keeps your joints lined up and each muscle group active throughout the movement. 


The hack squat can be used as an additional leg exercise to help you build better form and gradually increase performance.

Hip Range of Motion

Hack squats let you extend your hips farther than other leg-development exercises, especially the leg press. The hack squat is thus a “functional” exercise and is unquestionably functional for a fixed-path machine. 

Common Hack Squat Mistakes

Although the hack squat is a movement suitable for beginners, there are a few things to be aware of.

1. Your Foot Position

Be sure that your whole foot remains on the foot plate. Find a position that is comfortable for you to maintain your midfoot pressure on the plate throughout the entire range of your squat. If you feel your heels are coming off in the bottom of your squat, either bring your feet higher on the footplate or reduce your range of motion.

2. Going Too Fast & Too Heavy

Slow and controlled movement is key to engage the proper muscles without compensation. Slowly progress yourself and take your ego out of the lift. Prioritize proper form before introducing greater weight.



  • Are hack squats good for building muscle?

Hack squats are good exercise for building muscle. They work many muscle groups, including the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. They can be a bit challenging to do at first, but with practice, you’ll be able to do them like a pro.


  • Why is the hack squat so hard?

The hack squat is difficult because it asks the body to do many things simultaneously. The exercise targets the quads, hamstrings, and glutes all at once, so getting the coordination right can take a lot of work. 


Additionally, the position of the feet and torso require a good deal of balance and strength. The hack squat can be mastered with time and practice and provide an excellent workout.


  • Why are hack squats better than squats?

Hack squats have several benefits that squats do not offer. First, hack squats allow for a greater range of motion, which can help target different muscles in the thighs and glutes. 


Second, hack squats are less likely to cause injury as they require less stability to perform. 


Finally, hack squats can be an easy way to add more volume and intensity to your squatting routine without performing more challenging exercises.


  • Are hack squats enough for legs?

Hack squats can be enough; it all depends on your goals. The hack squat works the quadriceps mainly. However, as with the standard barbell squat, the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and core are all involved. This is due to greater stability requirements.


Squats, in general, are a fantastic compound exercise because they may add significant strength and bulk. And they’ve been employed for years to create broad, sturdy legs.

The Bottom Line

The hack squat is a versatile exercise that can be used to target a variety of muscle groups. While it is often thought of as a quads exercise, it can also build strength in the hamstrings, glutes, and core. 


There are multiple benefits of doing hack squats, including an increased hip range of motion, better posture, controlled form, lean muscle mass, strength, and fixed load path. Proper form is the key to getting the most out of the hack squat. 


Remember to keep your core engaged and your back straight throughout the movement. Additionally, be sure to lower the weight slowly and under control. By following these tips, you can maximize the benefits of the hack squat and build muscle all over your body. 


Happy squatting!


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