Hack Squat: Simple Quadriceps and Gluteal Exercise

28th October 2019
The hack squat enhances the development, endurance and potency of the quads and gluteal muscles. In addition, this exercise also works the hamstrings and the inner thighs. Do you know how to practice it?

The hack squat facilitates the development, endurance, and strength of the leg muscles, especially the quads and buttocks. The former constitute the muscles of the thighs. Together with the buttocks, they allow the realization of a large number of movements in our daily lives.

The importance of exercising these muscles lies precisely in their significance for the daily life of a person. Legs allow us to move, carry loads and many other everyday tasks.

Squats: an easy exercise

A good muscular development is synonymous with strength because muscular structure constitutes the support and mobility of the body. You can get a strong muscular structure by performing some specially designed training routines. When it comes to the lower body, squats cannot be missing from your daily routine.

When performing a hack squat, the main muscle engaged is the vast medial, located in the inner thigh. Plus, this exercise also optimizes the extensor knee muscle.

Although all kinds of squats are great to work your legs, the hack squat was specifically designed to isolate the quads. As it happens with other types of squats, to perform a hack squat you have to use a specific machine.

Barbell squat

The barbell squat consists of lifting up the barbell from a low squat position. The effort focuses on the flexed legs and the back, which remains straight. When performing this type of squat, in the lowest position it should feel as if you were sitting down.

When lifting up, the pressure should be done with the heels and thighs.

The hack squat has its variant also with a bar.

Hack squat, step by step

The name “hack” comes from the name of the press machine used to do this type of squat. This is a gym machine with an inclined backrest and two lateral rails that allow movement. It has two lateral supports and two supports at the top for the shoulders.

It’s important to lie with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle, back flat on the backrest, securing the shoulders in their respective supports. The legs should be shoulder-width apart, with the feet firmly on the platform, pointing slightly outward.

Meanwhile, place your arms on each side of your body, gripping the safety bars properly unlocked. The head should be aligned with the torso, eyes looking forward.

The movement begins from the bottom, straightening slowly your legs, inhaling while doing this movement. Keep in mind you shouldn’t completely extend your knees. When descending, exhale as you reach the original 90-degree position. Although of course most of the exercise depends on the strength of your legs, your shoulders also support your body throughout the exercise.

We recommend you do four sets of eight to 15 repetitions, with a small pause between each set. Of course, you shouldn’t do more repetitions than your body can handle. If you aren’t careful, you could injure yourself.

The hack machine allows you to add variables to our leg routine.

How to know if the hack squat is being done right?

One way to make sure the movement is being done correctly is to never allow your knees to go beyond the line drawn by your ankles. If you let your knees reach the tips of toes, then too much pressure will be applied to the tendons and no positive effect will be achieved.

Main functions that develop these muscle groups

The quadriceps, the most powerful and bulky leg muscles, are responsible for maintaining your body upright. The quads consist of four parts: rectus lateralis, vastus medialis, vastus lateralis, and the vastus intermedius.

By supporting the hip, covering the femur and joining the kneecap, the quads are responsible for controlling most of the movements in your body. Examples of these actions are walking, running, jumping, dancing, swimming and climbing. Also squatting and standing on one foot in balance is possible thanks to this muscle.

The quads, along with the buttocks, are the muscle groups responsible for stabilizing the pelvis and spine. Exercising correctly implies having a basic knowledge of how your body functions, and which muscles you should focus your training on. Because of this, the hack squat is a highly recommended activity.

  • Florian Hemme; Jan Todd. Beyond the Hack Squat: George Hackenschmidt’ s Forgotten Legacy as a Strength Training Pioneer. The University of Texas at Austin. https://www.starkcenter.org/igh/igh-v12/igh-v12-n3/igh1203p03.pdf
  • Clark, D. R., Lambert, M. I., & Hunter, A. M. (2017). Trunk muscle activation in the back and hack squat at the same relative loads. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 1. https://doi.org/10.1519/jsc.0000000000002144
  • Blazevich, A. J., Gill, N., & Newton, R. U. (2002). Reliability and validity of two isometric squat tests. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 16(2), 298–304. https://doi.org/10.1519/1533-4287(2002)016<0298:RAVOTI>2.0.CO;2