Hack Squat machine: Proper form, Variation, Mistakes and Benefits

Hack Squat machine: Proper form, Variation, Mistakes and Benefits

Want bigger and stronger legs? The hack squat is the answer, which can help you to achieve your goal. A squat hack machine stimulates the whole lower body, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves, as well as the core. This leg machine can bless you with pillar looking legs if done correctly.

Squats are one of the most loved yet painful leg exercises out there. But which squat variation is ideal for you and worth your time? It all depends upon the goal of a person. For your home gym you can get a hack squat machine for sale online or from any other local gym equipment store. Here we are providing you the scientific information about hack squat and whether it deserves to be in your leg day training routine.

What is a Hack Squat?

In simple words: A hack squat is just a squat that requires a specific machine.

A hack squat machine is similar to a leg press machine. Just the mechanism is reversed. On a leg press machine, the user sits on a fixed seat and presses the weights against a footpad above him/her. On the other hand, on a hack squat machine, a user stands on a fixed footpad (facing away from the leg machine) under shoulder pads to press the legs on the footpad or in plain words he tries to get up against the resistance.

Here the machine is designed in such a manner that it creates a certain angle compared to the traditional squat. Just imagine if you were squatting with weight plates under your heals inside a 45 degree angled machine. It makes it easy for people with less ankle mobility to do the exercise correctly.

Some people call this a leg press hack squat machine as it is just a reverse of a leg press machine. These leg press hack squat machines are very beneficial when it comes to enhancing the leg muscles and strength. With correct posture, dedication, and a well-balanced meal can help you grow bigger legs in no time. 

Hack Squat Form

You need a hack squat machine to perform this exercise, so you will probably need to be at the gym as there are low chances for a home gym to have this leg machine. To maximize the results from a hack squat, you need to learn the correct form and posture. Here is a step by step guide:

  • Load the weight plates on the hack squat machine. If you are a beginner, you must hire a personal trainer to master the proper form and avoid injuries.
  • Place your feet shoulder-width apart on the footpad of the hack machine.
  • Tighten the core and press the weight so that you can release the safety handles.
  • Inhale and tighten the abdominal muscles and lower down with a controlled motion.
  • Press the weights and try to do the repetitions in a controlled manner focusing on muscle contraction. 
  • Put the safety handles back and come out of the machine. 

Pro Tip: Tighten your abdominal muscles and try to press the footpad with your feet rather than trying to get up.

How to do Reverse Hack Squats on a Hack Squat Machine? 

We all have seen people doing reverse hack squats on Instagram and YouTube. Is it worth doing reverse hack squats? Yes, definitely, trying new angles and new variations stimulates the muscles in a different manner, which results in bigger and stronger muscles. 


reverse hack squat


  • Stand on the footpad facing the hack squat machine, just opposite the way you would stand on a regular hack squat exercise.
  • Inhale and tighten your core and push the weight so that you can release the safety handles.
  • Slowly get down in a controlled motion and get up again by pressing the feet on the footpad.
  • Lock the safety handles after the repetitions are completed. Get out of the machine safely.

This squat variation stimulates the hamstring and glutes more compared to quads. Keep in mind that you need to have decent ankle mobility to perform a reverse hack squat due to the angle of the leg machine.

Pro Tip: First master the form and posture, then gradually increase the weight, and a controlled movement with less weight is way better than heavyweight with poor form.

Narrow Stance Hack Squat

In this variation, you just have to place your feet closer. This hack squat variation will stimulate the quads more, so if you wish to emphasize quads, try this out.

Hack squat vs Squat (Traditional)

A hack squat seems like a traditional barbell squat just with some angle and a machine added to it. There are some differences between a conventional squat and this leg machine squat.

  • A free weight barbell squat can let you work out in a natural movement, unlike the hack squat, which does not allow you to perform the squat naturally.
  • Barbell squats require lots of core stability and ankle mobility; on the other hand, a hack squat does not demand that much core stability and ankle mobility. 
  • In traditional squats, the hips move back with the bent knees, and in a hack squat, as the hips are in a fixed position, the knees have to do the more work.

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There are pros and cons of both variations regarding the benefits and injury chances, so one must consult a certified trainer before squats. Both of these variations are awesome to grow bigger and stronger legs, and you can change feet placing to stimulate a specific muscle.

Hack Squat Mistakes

While a hack squat is ideal for beginners to learn the movement and build strength for the barbell squat, there are some things to look out for:

  1. Feet placement: Make sure you place the feet shoulder-width apart and not too high or too low on the footpad. As you progress, you can experiment with the stance but with fewer weights.
  2. Uncontrolled movements: Always focus on muscle contraction and do the repetitions in a controlled manner rather than explosive movements.
  3. Going heavy too early: Ego lifting can cause serious injuries, so always gradually increase the weights.

Final Thoughts

If you have weak quads, you must include hack squats in your leg day routines. One of the disadvantages of fixed movement leg machines is that they do not allow you to train in a natural movement, and that can lead to lower back and knee problems. In case your gym does not provide you a hack squat machine, you can always train your legs on a smith machine,barbell squats, seated leg press, and lunges with dumbbells. Also, you can try to place a 10-15 pound weight plate beneath your heels if you do not have decent ankle mobility.

The only way to get bigger and stronger is dedication, progressive overload, and a well-balanced diet. So always keep these points in mind to enhance your fitness levels. Always do a proper warm-up before leg training, and a cool-down session with static stretching and some yoga poses can help you achieve flexibility and mobility to perform the squats more efficiently. You can also do many fun workouts at home if you are stuck in a lockdown due to coronavirus. Feel free to contact us for sample workout plans, losing and gaining weight tips. If you have any question or any advice,  please comment below.

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Manoj Datic