How to do the hack squat correctly | Technique and variations

The hack squat is a popular exercise for building strength and muscle in the legs. It targets the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, making it an effective addition to any leg workout routine. However, it’s important to perform the hack squat with proper form to avoid injury and get the most out of the exercise. In this article, we’ll discuss the correct technique for the hack squat and explore some variations to add to your leg day routine.

The Correct Hack Squat Technique

Before jumping into the hack squat, it’s important to warm up your legs with some dynamic stretches and a few sets of bodyweight squats. This will help prepare your muscles for the exercise and reduce the risk of injury.

How to do the hack squat correctly

Setting Up the Machine

To perform this exercise , you’ll need a hack squat machine. Start by adjusting the footplate to a comfortable position. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart and your toes should be pointed slightly outward. Make sure your feet are firmly planted on the footplate and your heels are not lifting off.

Next, adjust the shoulder pads to a comfortable height. They should rest comfortably on your shoulders without putting too much pressure on your neck.

Performing this exercise

  1. Step onto the machine and place your shoulders under the shoulder pads.
  2. Hold onto the handles on either side of the machine for support.
  3. Slowly lower yourself down by bending your knees and pushing your hips back.
  4. Keep your back straight and your chest up throughout the movement.
  5. Lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
  6. Push through your heels to drive yourself back up to the starting position.
  7. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

It’s important to maintain control throughout the movement and avoid locking your knees at the top of the movement. This will ensure that you are engaging your leg muscles and not relying on momentum to complete the exercise.

Variations of the Hack Squat

Narrow Stance Hack Squat

The narrow stance hack squat is a variation that targets the inner thighs and quadriceps. To perform this variation, simply bring your feet closer together on the footplate. This will shift the focus to the inner thighs and require more stability from your core.

Wide Stance Hack Squat

Wide stance hack squat

The wide stance hack squat targets the outer thighs and glutes. To perform this variation, place your feet wider than shoulder-width apart on the footplate. This will shift the focus to the outer thighs and glutes, providing a different challenge for your leg muscles.

Single Leg Hack Squat

 

The single leg hack squat is a more advanced variation that requires more stability and balance. To perform this variation, place one foot on the footplate and extend the other leg behind you. Hold onto the handles for support and perform the hack squat with one leg at a time. This variation will target each leg individually, helping to correct any muscle imbalances.

Barbell Hack Squat

Barbell hack squat

by Victor Freitas (https://unsplash.com/@victorfreitas)

The barbell hack squat is a free weight variation that can be performed with a barbell or a pair of dumbbells. To perform this variation, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold the barbell behind your legs. Lower yourself down into a squat position, keeping your back straight and your chest up. Push through your heels to drive yourself back up to the starting position. This variation will engage your core and require more stability from your legs.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

When performing the hack squat, there are a few common mistakes to avoid to ensure proper form and avoid injury.

Rounding the Back

It’s important to keep your back straight throughout the movement. Rounding your back can put unnecessary strain on your spine and increase the risk of injury. Focus on keeping your chest up and your shoulders back to maintain proper form.

Lifting the Heels

Lifting your heels off the footplate can put strain on your knees and reduce the effectiveness of the exercise. Make sure your feet are firmly planted on the footplate throughout the movement.

Locking the Knees

Locking your knees at the top of the movement can put unnecessary strain on your joints. Instead, focus on maintaining a slight bend in your knees to keep tension on your leg muscles.

Incorporating the Hack Squat into Your Leg Workout

This exercise can be incorporated into your leg workout in a variety of ways. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Perform 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps as part of your leg day routine.
  • Superset the hack squat with another leg exercise, such as leg curls or lunges.
  • Use the hack squat as a finisher at the end of your leg workout to really fatigue your leg muscles.

Conclusion

The hack squat is a valuable exercise for building strength and muscle in the legs. By following the correct technique and incorporating variations into your leg workout routine, you can target different muscle groups and continue to challenge your leg muscles. Remember to always warm up properly and listen to your body to avoid injury. With consistent practice, this exercise can help you achieve your leg day goals.