The barbell hack squat is a compound leg exercise which targets the quad muscles, while also using the hamstrings, glutes, calves, hips, core and lower back as secondary movers. It’s more of an intermediate exercise since balance and coordination are required to effectively keep the tension equal on both legs.
Now, the barbell hack squat more closely resembles a deadlift than an actual squat because you’re pulling the weight off the ground. But it is very effective for building mass and strength. However, you cannot use as much weight when compared to a normal squat or deadlift due to the position of the movement.
In this Exercise
- Target Muscle Group: Quadriceps (Rectus Femoris, Vastus Lateralis, Vastus Medialis, Vastus Intermedius)
- Type: Strength
- Mechanics: Compound
- Equipment: Hack squat machine
- Difficulty: Intermediate
- Stand with your back to the barbell, keep your legs slightly wider than shoulder width apart and feet pointed slightly outward.
- Squat down and grab the barbell with a wider than shoulder-width grip.
- Keep your back straight, chest up, and core tight.
- Lift the barbell all the way up against the back of your legs until your standing straight by pressing through your heels while exhaling.
- Slowly lower yourself back down and touch the barbell to the ground like a deadlift while inhaling.
- Repeat for the desired number of reps.
Variations & Tips
- You can use a hack squat machine or smith machine as an alternative.
- Keep your back straight and feet pointed slightly outward to relieve pressure on the knees.
- The barbell hack squat targets mostly the quads while the hamstrings, glutes, calves lower back, and core are also involved as secondary movers.
- The barbell hack squat requires stabilization, coordination, and balance to perform effectively, so it’s best for intermediate lifters.
- The barbell hack squat is closer to a deadlift since you pull it off the ground.
- You can’t use the same amount of weight because you’re pulling from behind your back.