Hack Squats Exercise Guide

Hack Squat Exercise Guide

How To Do Hack Squats

Setting Up


  • Step into the machine’s footprint, and press both of your shoulders against the machine’s shoulder pads.
  • Position your feet in the stance you’d position them in for any other variation of the squat.
  • Stand, and disengage the stoppers.
  • Place both of your hands on the hand grips near your shoulders, and begin lowering yourself by bending at the knees.
  • When you’re parallel or a little below parallel, push the platform away from your body to stand back up.
  • Once the set is completed, engage the stoppers once more


  • Experiment with various rep ranges. Tailor your rep range to your own personal goals. If you’re looking for strength gains you’ll be sticking to between three to eight reps, and if you’re more focused on your hypertrophy you should be doing more than eight reps. 
  • Make sure your feet are a shoulder’s width apart, and unless you’re focusing on working your hamstrings, your feet shouldn’t be too high either. 
  • Avoid adding too much weight to the machine too early. Your first priority should be getting your form right- weight can come later.
  • Don’t be squatting through the balls of your feet. You should only be squatting through your heels. The alternative could result in knee injuries, even if you’re not using heavy weight.
  • Avoid rounding or arching your back. This could result in injury. 

Exercise Benefits

  • Improves balance and stability
  • Offers support on the lower back
  • Builds quad muscles significantly

Illustrated Guide

Muscles Worked

Primary Muscles

  • Quads
  • Glutes

Secondary Muscles

  • Hamstrings
  • Core
  • Calves
  • Hip Flexors

Hack Squat Variations

  • Consider adding a glute band or glute loop to the mix if you want to focus more on your glutes. Place your feet in a wider stance on the platform than you’d adopt for a regular squat, so when you perform your hack squat, you’ll need to push your knees against the loops, which will work your glutes even harder.
  • If you want to focus on your hamstrings, you should position your feet higher on the platform of the machine and adopt a wide stance. Push your knees out as much as you can when performing your hack squat.

Hack Squat Alternatives

Leg Press 

Similar to the hack squat, the leg press is a machine-based exercise. If you’re a regular gym-goer, then it is likely that you already use a leg press machine.

Not only is the leg press machine excellent at working the same muscle groups as the hack squat and is especially easy for beginners to use, but it can also take the pressure off your body too, as free-weights can put a lot of axial load on your spine. 

Goblet Squat

The goblet squat works the same muscle groups as a hack squat but instead requires a dumbbell or a kettlebell in replacement of the machine.

The goblet squat is thought of as a full-body movement. They work your quads, calves, glutes, and entire core, and your arms and grip strength because you're not only squatting but are also holding onto the dumbbell.

Barbell Hack Squat 

When it comes to the barbell hack squat, you hold a barbell behind you to work the muscles. 

The barbell hack squat has a lot of the same benefits as the hack squat. Having the barbell behind you requires you to bend your knees more in order to stay balanced while also allowing you to stay more upright.

As a result of this exercise, your quads have to work harder, too, meaning you’re working multiple muscle groups.

Front Squat

During a front squat, the barbell is placed on the front of the shoulders. Having the bar in this position requires the lifter to push their knees farther forward in order to stay upright, replicating the position of a hack squat.

A benefit of performing a front squat is that it can be easier on the lower back, as the position of the weight doesn't compress the spine like it would in a back squat.

Kevin Harris