For lower body strengthening, squats are royalty. Adding in variations and equipment can help round out muscle development and repair defecits. The hack squat is one such variation


The primary muscles recruited in this movement are biased towards the quadriceps, then glutes and hamstrings. The secondary muscles stressed include soleus, abdominals, and lower back core musculature. However, being braced by the machine significantly reduces the involvement of the core muscles versus a barbell or free standing squat.

Starting Position

Lay on the machine with your shoulders up against the shoulder pads and your feet on the platform. Push up against the shoulder pads until you are in a standing position. Flip the side handles in and hold them until you have completed the exercise.

Hack Squat

Woman preparing to engage in the activity. Before she starts her first rep of the Hack Squat, her back should be flat and supported, with shoulders touching the padding behind her. Once feet are set in position and she is ready to perform, she should pick her head, anatomically forward, looking toward the upper corner of the room. Proper from is important in order to decrease the chance of injury.


While bending at the hips and knees, take two to three seconds to lower the weight down until your knees are at 90 degrees. Press up through the heels of your feet to the starting position. Squeeze your abdominals, quadriceps and glutes hard before repeating the movement.

Training Tips

  • Contract your abdominals throughout the entire movement. This will help support your lower back.
  • If you do not have a problem with your knees you can perform this exercise at 90 degrees. This incorporates more work from the hamstrings and glutes.
  • Your feet can be placed closer to or over the top of the platform allowing you to keep your knees over your heels. This reduces the stress placed on your knees.


There are three stances that can be used for this exercise:

  1. Close Stance – The feet are placed one to two inches apart. Concentration is on the Vastis Lateralis (outer thigh).
  2. Medium Stance – The feet are placed shoulder width apart. Concentration is on the entire quad, hamstring and glutes.
  3. Wide Stance – The feet are placed just outside the width of the shoulders. Concentration is on the Vastis Medialis (inner thigh).

Warning Tips

  • Do not let your hips come off the pad or arch your back at any time during this movement. This can cause serious injury to your back.
  • Do not let your heels rise up off the platform and do not let your knees move into a position where they are farther forward than your toes. This can cause serious injury to your knees.
  • Do not lower the weight any faster than two to three seconds. You must be in control at all times. The faster you perform this movement, the less control you will have which will increase your risk of injury.
  • Do not lock out your knees. This can cause serious injury to your knees.

Robert BoveeRobert Bovee Certified Master PPT, RTS, ETS, FTS

As one of the most successful Professional Personal Trainers and Exercise/Fitness Therapists in the United States, Robert continues to remain at the forefront of the industry by providing his clients with a thorough education and the tools to implement that education. By improving his client’s physical health, strength, endurance, cardiovascular fitness and nutritional habits, he is able to motivate them to lead longer, happier and more productive lives. Find out more about Robert and his personal training career and services, here.


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