Hack Squat with the machine, better than the “classic” squat?
The hack squat is a fantastic polyarticular strength training exercise, a cousin of the traditional squat movement. It is usually done by machine and has the advantage of offering back support throughout the movement, compared to a classic back squat.
If it is simpler than the traditional squat because it is guided, it has some small subtleties that should be well mastered. If you are familiar with the back squat, the hack squat may not be a problem for you.
In this article
- Hack squat or classic squat?
- How to do the hack squat?
- Do not neglect a good muscle and joint warm-up.
- Position yourself well on the machine
- Some tips for a successful hack squat according to your goals
- 1) The placement of your feet
- 2) Range of motion
- 3) The use of elastic bands
- 4) Always push with your heels
Hack squat or classic squat?
If the adductors, glutes, and quadriceps are highly solicited in the hack squat like the squat, what is the point of preferring this last version besides offering a guided movement and back support?
Well, the squat hack is great for isolating the quadriceps. The hack squat may be a good alternative if you want to gain volume mainly in the thighs.
On the other hand, everyone is different, and not all our bodies respond to the same workouts in the same way, so it’s important to test what works best for you. Maybe you will prefer this variant; maybe it will give you better results.
Finally, it is always good to know alternatives to avoid falling into monotonous, repetitive, and boring training regimens.
How to do the hack squat?
I told you, it’s not rocket science; we are not in ” Harry Potter in the kingdom of powerlifters. ” But all the same, it will be necessary to pay attention to the small things. The devil is in the details, as they say.
Do not neglect a good muscle and joint warm-up.
Before tackling your work sets, don’t forget to warm up your muscles and joints. Before doing the squat, you can do mobility exercises for your hips, ankles, and knees. Then do a few sets of empty squats (air squats), or even a few sets of “leg extension” without loading too much, to condition your muscles for the effort to come.
Finally, perform your 1st series of hack squats without weight; this will allow you to place your marks, especially at the level of the feet. Start with very low amplitudes, then work your way up to full amplitude. Then place your loads gradually up to your workload (for example, 25% of the target workload, then 50%, then 75%).
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Position yourself well on the machine
Now let’s see the execution of the movement for the machine hack squat. Machines may differ in weight rooms, but the movement is the same.
- your feet are straight, shoulder-width apart, toes slightly pointed outwards
- in the initial position, disengage the safety and descend into a full squat (below the parallel formed between your thighs and the ground, angle less than 90 ° at the level of the knees), just before the load reaches the stop (we avoid rebounds) and slow down the movement on the descent as much as possible
- maintain an upright posture during the movement and the back well glued to the support, strongly engage the abs to help you
- exhale on the way up, while pushing mainly on the heels, your knees should never point inwards, as in a classic squat (imagine that your knees are two magnets of the same polarity, which therefore repel each other)
- finally, never completely lock the legs when you go up; this will increase the time under tension while reducing the risk of injury
The ideal format for training with the hack squat would be 3 to 4 sets of work consisting of 8 to 15 repetitions.
Some tips for a successful hack squat according to your goals
The placement of your feet
The higher your feet are placed on the platform, the more hamstrings and glutes you will recruit. Conversely, the lower your feet are, the more stress you will put on the quads.
So if your goal is to “hit the quads,” you’ll want your feet to be below the alignment of your knees. You will lift less weight in this position but will work this muscle area more effectively.
Range of motion
If your goal is to develop your quadriceps primarily, you do not need to go below the 90 ° threshold so that you can stop at the parallel described by your thighs with the ground.
If, on the other hand, you want to work the entire posterior chain, then your buttocks must come as close as possible to your heels. You must squat ” ass to the grass “!
The use of elastic bands
You might not have missed it, and some people use rubber bands during their hack squats. It isn’t to reinvent the wheel or show off, and it’s just a safer way to add resistance.
You are more prone to injury when you are at the bottom of the movement (this is the posture where the most tension is exercised). However, compared to additional weight, the elastic band presents no resistance at the end of the movement. Movement, no additional weight; no stress, therefore!
But as we push in the upward phase of the movement, the elastic resistance will increase, and the movement will become more complex. Using rubber bands is a bit like saying to yourself, I add weight, but only in the concentric phase of the exercise.
Also, with the band, we feel a downward pulling force operating, something that attracts us and that we have to fight against, more than weights on the bar, so we will also work more on the negative portion of the movement.
It’s a great accessory once you’ve figured out how to place it!
Always push with your heels.
It is the essential point; as for the squat, we go back up by pushing on the heels and possibly on the outside of the feet.
One of the great things about the hack squat is that the machine’s stability allows you to work with very narrow foot spacing, which in itself is a good thing.
The only thing is if you don’t have the flexibility, what will happen is that you will find yourself taking off your heels during the descent.
Be careful, and we never want that!
In addition, the fitness YouTuber recently tested via an EMG the influence of the spacing of the feet on the recruitment of the vast external and internal on a squat hack movement, to see if there was any influence … I advise you to take a look at the video!
So much for the hack squat, a great alternative to the squat to know to adapt to all situations!
Note that the hack squat can practice with the machine and the Olympic bar. Another version is the reverse hack squat with the machine, which is very practiced by the young ladies in search of buttocks of steel!