Hack Squat

  • Alternative Names: Machine hack squat, hack squats
  • Type: Strength
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Equipment: Hack squat machine
  • Muscles Targeted: Thighs, abs, hips, calves, lower back
  • Mechanics: Compound
  • Average Number of Sets: 3 with 8-10 reps each
  • Variations: Barbell, reverse, Smith Machine, dumbbell, narrow stance, one-legged, kettlebell hack squats
  • Alternative: Barbell full squat

The hack squat, usually done on a hack squat machine, helps you to train your hamstrings, quadriceps, and glutes thereby developing your lower body strength.

You may include it in your leg workout routine if you want to target all the major muscle groups of your legs simultaneously.

It allows you to change your foot position and alter your fitness goals. Keeping your feet in a higher position would be beneficial for working your glutes whereas a lower position would help in targeting your quads.

Hack Squat vs Leg Press and Weighted Squat

An ideal workout for the beginners, the hack squat allows you to replicate the weighted squat movement and get the hang of it. The exercise is more effective if you have strong inner quads and stable knee joints.

  • It is good for working your outer quads (vastus lateralis) whereas the leg press is an effective exercise for your inner quads (vastus medialis). The weighted squat, on the other hand, targets the group of quadriceps femoris muscles.
  • The hack squat is safer because you can easily lock or unlock the weights using the safety handles at the sides of the machine. The leg press machine, on the other hand, does not have any such safety measures. For the weighted squat, you may use a spotter to help you lift the weights.
  • Hack squats and weighted squats engage your upper hamstrings and glutes slightly more than the leg press. Therefore, your upper body is less relaxed than with the leg press.

Hack Squat Proper Form: How to do It Using the Machine

The hack squat machine is a piece of important gym equipment used for doing leg exercises. If you have this machine in your gym, try to do the hack squat loading 30-40 lbs weight plates on each side.

Hack Squat Technique

Machine Hack Squat Tips

  • Keep your back rested against the pad and your head up, pressing through the ball of your feet to increase the tension in your quads.
  • To reduce the stress on your joints, try to keep the front of your knees and the toes in line so that they are perpendicular to each other.


  1. Barbell Hack Squat: A standing hack squat variety mostly performed by trainees who do not have access to hack squat machines.
  2. Reverse Hack Squat: Similar to the basic hack squat, except that you need to turn around and face the machine.
  3. Hack Squat with Smith Machine: Another free-weight squat like the barbell hack squat that uses the Smith machine instead.
  4. Dumbbell Hack Squat: A simple version of the hack squat that can be performed at home.
  5. Narrow Stance Hack Squat: Done by bringing your feet closer.
  6. Single Leg Hack Squat: Performed by raising one leg and extending it out in front.
  7. Kettlebell Hack Squat: Another version of the hack squat performed by holding the kettlebell behind you.

Alternative Exercise

Barbell Full Squat

Stay Connected

Get access to the latest health and fitness insights, tools and special offers to keep your career moving.