Hack Squat

Isolation exercise, Machine




Required equipment

Main muscles

  • Thigh: Quadriceps
    (Musculus quadriceps femoris)
  • Thigh: Thigh flexor
    (Musculus biceps femoris)
  • Buttocks: Large gluteus maximus
    (Musculus gluteus maximus)

Training plans

Hack Squat is a suitable substitute for similar exercises in Thigh training or as a supplement to various training plans.

Hack Squat: Basics and alternatives

Thigh training: Involved main muscle groups Hack Squat

Involved main muscle groups:
Hack Squat

Hack squats on the machine are a guided exercise targeting the front thigh (quadriceps). The movement is pretty simple: You stand at a reclined angle in the machine and push the weight upwards with shoulder pads by straightening your legs.

This exercise can be viewed as an alternative to barbell front squats. Although the range of motion is similar, front squats require more stabilization effort (in the back) as a free compound exercise. Machine hack squats, on the other hand, are considered an isolation exercise for the legs, similar to the leg press.

Correct execution

Hack press machines come in different versions, with variations in weight placement and movement angle. If the angles between two machines differ significantly, it can affect the amount of weight you can move. For example, you may find that you can move less weight when switching gyms due to a lower backrest angle.

So, it’s a good idea to start with a lower weight when changing machines.

Video tutorial

Hack Squat | Exercise Guide

Step-by-step instructions

Load the appropriate weight for your workout.

Step into the hack press machine and place your shoulders under the pads.

Press your back against the backrest and position your feet about shoulder-width apart on the footrest.

Hold the handles, usually located next to your head, without pushing on them.

Tighten your body and get ready to lift the weight. Move the handles towards your head to release the lock and weight.

Straighten your legs, but keep your knees slightly bent. You’re now in the starting position.

Bend your knees and slowly lower the weight in a controlled manner. The end of the movement is reached when your lower and upper legs are just below a 90-degree angle.

Push the weight back up by extending your legs. As before, keep your knees slightly bent at the end of the movement so your muscles support the weight, not your knee joints. Keep your back pressed against the backrest throughout the entire movement.

Common mistakes

Since the movement sequence is relatively simple, there’s only one major mistake to avoid: fully extending your knees. Make sure to always keep them slightly bent when in a standing position. Never straighten them completely, as this not only releases muscle tension in your legs but also places the full weight on your knee joints. Although it might not cause immediate problems (unless the weight is too heavy), incorrect training can contribute to serious knee issues in the long run.

Due to the machine’s design, incorrect back posture is rarely a problem. Just make sure your back isn’t arched and remains upright against the back pad throughout the exercise.