Best Hack Squat Machines Reviewed For 2024

Total body strength – everyone is looking for it but no one is willing to put in the time or effort.

Truth: The shortest way to get to it is when you perform compound exercises.

When it comes to compound movements, clean and press, deadlift, squats and flat bench are the one you should be looking at doing more.

This article we are going to focus on an exercise that is one of the top tier strength builders of fitness enthusiast everywhere – squats.

And more specifically, hack squats and how they can help you get the musculature that you’ve always wanted.

You must be wondering now –

What is a Hack Squat Machine?

A hack squat machine is considered one of the more popular exercises at the gym. It gets usage from weightlifters, bodybuilders and beginners – it’s that good. It is purported to increase lower body strength which is pretty important to athletes as it lets them accelerate and change direction quicker.

It is inclined at a 45-degree angle and has a sled on which you can load weights. When people use the machine, they have a lot of plates decked up on the machine, considerably more than what you normally see squatting.

And the best part – You can squat more weights than you normally do with squats

Hack Squats Machines Benefits

The primary advantage of a hack squat machine is that it lets you ignore upper body compensations you need to make. This lets you do squats as low as you are able to.

With hack squat machines, you can work one leg at a time.

Another important aspect is that it eases you back into squats if you are recovering from an injury.

You can affect how the machine works different areas of your body when you adjust your feet position accordingly.

If you are looking to increase the size of your calves, hack squat machine can help.

Hack squats can work out your glutes as well.

Another important aspect is that it eases you back into squats if you are recovering from an injury.

How to Use a Hack Squat Machine

We will go through how you can use the hack squat machine to get the most out of your lower body exercise.

  • Start by resting your back against the back pad making sure that your shoulders are hooked under the shoulder pads.
  • When determining feet position on the plate – make sure that you have them shoulder width apart and keep them pointed slightly outwards.
  • Always remember to keep your stance neutral and your head up.
  • Before you start, place your arms by the side and disengage the safety bars enabling lifting of the load.
  • Now you should get your knees as straight as possible taking care not to lock out the knees as this can be injurious long-term.
  • Slowly lower the sled making sure you keep your posture neutral and head up. Continue to lower the load until you or a spotter can see that the angle between your legs and calves is lesser than 90 degrees.
  • Once you’ve reached as low as you want to go, then focus on breathing out while simultaneous raising the sled. It is important to raise the unit while exerting your heel rather than the toes. Again, make sure that you don’t lock your knees out.
  • Make sure you commit to the recommended number of reps.

What You Should Look For Before You Buy a Hack Squat Machine

When you are looking to buy hack squat machine, there are basically 2 different types you will find. One comes only with the hack squat machine, while the other types also include a leg press attachment. This is because a hack squat and a leg press machine both work under the same principle.

Like other gym equipment that you’ve purchased, a hack squat machine has a few common factors that you need to check to make sure you’re making the right choice. A few of these factors are:

Durability – make sure that the machine has a decent amount of reviews when it comes to longevity. This is especially important for a hack squat machine because of the huge amount of load it must take on every time you exercise.

Quality/Construction – another important attribute as far as this machine is concerned. Since having equipment failure on heavy-load pieces of equipment like this are dangerous, you need to make sure that the manufacturer uses premium components and materials wherever possible.

Weight capacity – the amount of weight that can be loaded on the hack squat machine is important as well. This determines how quickly you’ll outgrow your machine, if at all. Most top of the line hack squat machines have 1000 lbs of loadable weight capacity.

What Muscles do Hack Squats Work?

When you talk about hack squats, it is a general notion that they are beneficial for the lower body. But there are more than a few muscle groups that is targeted by this and we’ll take a look at them now.

The hack squat targets the quads primarily. In fact, this is right up there with the leg curl machine when you are looking to gain musculature in your quads.

It also exerts secondary muscles like calves, forearms, hamstrings and glutes giving them a good workout.

Alternatives to Hack Squats

There are not many substitutes for hack squats because it is a very niche exercise machine. These are however no less effective and can give you a similar workout when compared to the hack squat machine.

Smith Machine

If you have a smith machine and no hack squat, you can work that as well. A smith machine offers a good alternative to hack squats and you can load up on it as well unlike with the barbell hack squat. I would recommend this as a great alternative because you are a lot more stable during this movement and you don’t need to be a pro to execute the movement effectively.

You need to remember to not lock out your knees (same as with the hack squat machine) when performing this exercise.

This video should give you some idea of how you can use smith machines for hack squats:

Barbell Hack Squat

There is an exercise movement – barbell hack squat that you could use. It does mimic the motion of the hack squat machine while working out your stabilizers much better. And all you need for this motion is a barbell and weight plates which also works out more convenient than a huge machine.

Though, you should keep in mind that you will not be able to exert the kind of load that you get with a machine through this method.

How to do Barbell Hack Squats

How to do barbell hack squats

  • Start with the weighted barbell just behind your legs while making sure that your feet are flat on the floor. Remember that your grip should be overhand.
  • From a crouching position, extend your knees and hips fully.
  • Squat back down bending your hips back and letting your knees bend forward. Descend until thighs are pretty much parallel to the floor.

Hack Squats vs Squats

Squats, more specifically, barbell squats are one of the premier compound exercises for total body development.

How do they compare to hack squats? When you consider benefits, the traditional barbell squat far outshines the hack squat machine because there are several types of muscles and stabilizers that only activate when you are doing traditional squats.

But the advantage hack squats have is that if you are recovering from injuries or you have back problems, then you can use this machine to get your squats back on track till you can move to properly squat.

Both exercise disciplines are not replacements for each other but rather they complement the other in terms of functionality and purpose.

Hack squats

Hack Squats and Leg Press – Are There Differences?

Leg press and hack squat machines have had quite similar functions – they develop lower body musculature. But are there actually differences to how they go about their functions?

We’ve already seen what a hack squat machine can do for your legs. A leg press is a similar tool in that it also hits your quads and hamstrings really hard. However, with the leg press the glutes are worked a bit lesser because it doesn’t have full-hip extension owing to the 90-degree bend that your body is under.

Another reason is that the upper portion is a bit more relaxed when it comes to leg press when compared to hack squats.

Is the Hack Squat a Compound Exercise?

Considering that a hack squat almost mimics the movement of squats, which is a compound exercise, yes, a hack squat machine can definitely be considered as a compound exercise. While it may not be as extensive as a traditional squat, a hack squat still touches on a lot of different muscle groups. Hack squats are considered one of the best compound exercises for the quads.


When you are looking for the best routine for your lower body exercise, then hack squat machines are a great way to get your lower body as well as parts of your upper body into ship shape. There are a lot of advantages of working on hack squat rather than a leg press – a leg press does not work on your upper body as effectively as a hack squat.

If you are thinking of getting one for your home gym, there are certain factors that you need to consider like weight and size of the machine. Once you‘ve made up your mind about getting a hack squat machine, you need to allocate an area which does not interrupt you when you are working with other equipment in your home gym.

Hopefully this article has given you some valuable insights into several hack squat machines that are available in the market and what you need to look for to buy them. Do let us know in the comments if you feel that we’ve missed out on anything.