What is a hack squat?

What is a hack squat?

With current popularity life hack, It is easy to guess Hack squat Some modern variations to solve a problem with the traditional squat. And step though was Made to make normal weighted or normal changes Body weight squatsPeople have been hack squatting since the late 1800s.

The hack squat is usually attributed to the wrestler George Hackenschmidt (hence the “hack”). named), who designed this move to alleviate the impact on the back and hips while isolating the quadriceps muscles worked on targeted development. While some aspects of the workout have evolved over the past century, its thigh-toning principles remain.

So, what you need to know to execute a like safely Russian lion yourself? Below, we’ll cover why this move is worth rediscovering and how to loop it into your workout routine.

How to perform a traditional hack squat

There are several variations of the traditional squat: V squat vs. hack squat vs. bodyweight vs. sumo, and the list goes on. But one of the most popular squat variations is the hack squat. When bodybuilding was in its infancy, Hackenschmidt didn’t have the equipment used for hack squats in modern gyms. However, he wanted barbells and strength. One day, he decided to combine the two, bending the knees and giving birth to the hack squat.

The type of hack squat that the Russian lion was doing in the early 20th century required little equipment and is still widely practiced today. Here’s how to prepare for a traditional hack squat:

  1. Choose your weight – Your weight for the hack squat won’t be as heavy as other squat variations. The strength needed to pull off a hack squat comes primarily from your quadriceps, so assess your strength there before deciding how much to lift. Generally, you want to be able to do 2 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions, so choose the appropriate weight for these goals.Will it be comfortable? They’re squats, so chances are, you’ll feel the burn—just make sure to maintain form.
  2. Set up – Find an area with a mat or other non-slip surface suitable for any type of squat. You shouldn’t drop the load any significant distance, but a padded, shock-absorbing floor won’t hurt if you accidentally drop it. Place a barbell with a plate on the ground behind you and prepare to lift.
  3. to assume – Squat down into a starting position as you would for a traditional squat and grab the weight behind you with an overhand grip. In this position, you should be almost sitting on the bar with your arms by your thighs. The soles of your shoes should be perfectly flat on the ground.

Bend down at your knees and keep your spine as straight as possible. If you find it too difficult to hold the weight from this angle, you can use a platform or rack to elevate it. Then, just go ahead after securing it to start your set with a downward motion.

  1. Drive upwards – Start pushing up from your feet to lift the weight. You should feel most of the force applied from your thighs. As the bar rises up, extend your hips and straighten your legs as much as possible. As you reach full extension, flex your quads tightly to support a little extra weight. Your back should be as straight as an arrow throughout this movement to prevent injury.
  2. Relax down – Return the weight to the ground with a slow, controlled movement. Basically, reverse the motions you did to lift the weight. Bend at the knees and lower your back until you’re almost sitting on the bar again. Spinal stability is very important – your back should not arch at any point throughout the movement.
  3. Repeat until you reach your goal – Keep pushing until you hit the reps and sets you’re aiming for As with any exercise, ensure adequate rest between sets, usually about 2 to 3 minutes. Leave at least 48 hours between workouts as well– Although your muscles could welcome a few extra days off!

This tried and true method of hack squatting is a preferred method for free-weight enthusiasts and limited equipment. It has a dozen decades of proven gains under its weightlifting belt and is an effective exercise as long as you nail the form.

If the barbell hack squat isn’t your thing, however, there is a more modern method of doing the hack squat that has become popular in the weightlifting community.

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How to use a machine to hack the squat

Honestly, “What are hack squats?” The question has two correct answers. They can be done with or without the help of machines and both types of exercises are slightly different from each other. Barbell hack squat alternatives include the machine hack squat workout. If you’re lucky enough to have a gym membership with a hack squat machine, you can use modern technology to apply George Hackenschmidt’s age-old fitness nuances.

The process of hack squatting with a machine is similar to doing it with free weights, but with a few twists. Getting Started:

  1. Set up and load the machine – Set the machine in a position where the supports rest comfortably on your shoulders when you are at full extension. You should be able to handle a heavy load with the assistance of the machine rather than free weight lifting, being sure not to stack too much to avoid injury. You can always add, but if you hurt yourself, you can’t lift anything.
  2. climb inside – Get into the starting position with your back firmly against the back pad with your shoulders supported squarely. Your feet should be in line with your body, facing forward and planted flat on the platform. Release the safety handles and…
  3. Slide down – The pressure of the weight and the force of gravity will naturally begin to push you down. Bend at the knees and slowly lower the weight until your quads are at about a 90° angle to the machine frame. Your back should be firmly planted against the pad and the amount you take shouldn’t feel like it’s crushing you.
  4. Push back up – Run your feet on the platform and stretch your legs to their maximum. As with a normal hack squat, flex your quads into full extension to lift the load as high as possible.
  5. do more – Similar rules regarding reps, sets, and rest govern machine-assisted and free-weight hack squats. Do what you feel comfortable doing, set goals and follow a plan to outdo yourself the next time you’re out hacking.

Both types of hack squats encourage the development of lower body muscle groups and make you stronger. They are quite specific in the areas they target, however, so hack squats may not be the right exercise for everyone.

Normal squat vs free weight hack squat vs machine-assisted hack squat

The hack squat is a compound exercise specifically designed to target the quadriceps. That said, no muscle really works alone. During any exercise, we (unknowingly or unknowingly) work multiple parts of our body together.

Different exercises can be used to isolate specific muscles for maximum work and growth. To understand whether hack squats can help you achieve your fitness goals, you can consider what they do with conventional squats:

  • Regular squats – The traditional squat is the unwavering leg-day lift that, according to popular advice, should never be skipped. This is definitely a go-to for those looking for all-around development, especially around glue.

Honestly, normal squats are versatile and engage your leg muscles, hips and back. They also improve knee strength and even activate core muscles. If you’re looking to improve strength in general, it’s hard to find a better movement than the classic squat.

  • Free weight hack squats – As previously mentioned, hack squats are designed to isolate the quadriceps and work them as much as possible. Using free weights, however, does not completely exclude the activation of other muscle groups. Barbell squats require you to engage many parts of your body to stabilize and balance the weight. Those muscles closest to the quads—your calves, glutes, and lower back—will come into play, especially when hack squatting with free weights.
  • Hack squats with a machine – Machines can optimally isolate muscles by eliminating form brakes and doing load stabilization work for you. Even on a hack squat machine, you don’t only engage your quadriceps during repetitions. The rest of you won’t have to do nearly as much work during a machine hack squat, however, which means your quads will take the brunt of the load.

Now that you have a better idea of ​​which leg muscles, as well as other muscle groups, are best activated by different squats, you can decide which style to execute the next time you hit the gym.

Or, you can try them all—whatever feels right for you!

Pop your perfect squat at Choose Fitness

If you’re looking for a premier place to give hack squatting a try, work with Fitness Professionals. Choose Fitness. Whether you’re hacking away at free weights, a machine, or sticking with the classic squat, Chuze has the space and equipment for you.

Not much of a squatter? No problem – browse Ichuz The app for inspiration for all types of workouts, from beginner yoga to HIIT, to discover video series for every fitness level.

Choose whether you join one of the groups Fitness class Or train 1:1 with an experienced trainer, the pros at Chuz want you to leave feeling inspired (and sweaty). Find one in your area by searching forgym near meAnd stop by to learn how our community can help you achieve your fitness dreams.

Reviewed by:

Ani is Vice President of Fitness at Chuz Fitness and oversees the Group Fitness and Team Training departments. He had a 25+ year career in club management, personal training, group exercise and instructor training. Annie lives in San Diego, CA with her husband and son and loves hot yoga, snowboarding and all things wellness.


  1. Men’s Health. Want Monster Quads? Time to learn the hack squat. https://www.menshealth.com/fitness/a28133625/hack-squat/
  2. barbend George Hackenschmidt: Father of the bench press and hack squat. https://barbend.com/george-hackenschmidt/
  3. The study of physical culture. Three old-school squats you’re not doing. https://physicalculturestudy.com/2017/02/02/three-old-school-squats-youre-not-doing/
  4. Livestrong. A hack squat vs. A back squat. https://www.livestrong.com/article/538392-a-hack-squat-vs-a-back-squat/
  5. The study of physical culture. Three old-school squats you’re not doing. https://physicalculturestudy.com/2017/02/02/three-old-school-squats-youre-not-doing/
  6. Livestrong. A hack squat vs. A back squat. https://www.livestrong.com/article/538392-a-hack-squat-vs-a-back-squat/
  7. Muscle and strength. Machine Hack Squat Video Exercise Guide. https://www.muscleandstrength.com/exercises/hack-squat.html
  8. National Library of Medicine. Differences in quadriceps femoris and hamstring muscle activity during different squat exercises. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8783452/
  9. University of Delaware. Free weight vs. Machine: How should you choose? https://sites.udel.edu/coe-engex/2018/04/03/free-weights-vs-machines-how-should-you-choose/

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