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Hack Squats - Muscles Worked & Benefits

Exercise Type: Multi-joint
Primary Muscles Worked: Quads
Secondary Muscles Worked: Glutes, Calves and Hamstrings

Hack Squats target the quads, calves, glutes, and hamstrings. Named after the German word hacke, which means ankle, the exercise is ideal for targeting the lower area of the thighs. It is also a good movement for working the lower range of the pressing motion. They can also be a great alternative to the traditional squat as it places slightly less stress on the knees and the extra padding on the machine can help prevent shoulder compression.

Hack Squats - Exercise Workout & Technique

  • Position yourself in the hack squat machine so that your shoulders are under the padded section.
  • Angle your feet out slightly.
  • Press up with your legs to lift the weight rack to unhook the weight.
  • Inhale and lower yourself to the point that you can go no further - aim for the point where your knee makes a 90 degree angle.
  • Exhale and drive the weight up.
  • Repeat this exercise for the desired amount of reps.

Hack Squats - Tips & Safety

  • Perform the exercise in a controlled manner at all times and ensure that you come down the whole way with every rep.
  • Isolate the quads and reduce stress across the kneecaps by pushing the weight using the forefoot and allowing your heels to rise off the footplate as the weight is lowered.
  • For some of your last reps, continue to come down all the way, but on the way up arch your back and bring your hips away from the machine without locking your legs out. This will give your thighs a defined look by emphasising the separation between the leg biceps and the quads.

Hack Squats - Alternatives

  • Placing your feet low on the footplate emphasises the quads, while placing your feet higher requires more effort from the glutes and hamstrings.
  • Performing Hack Squats while facing the machine also switches the focus to the glutes and hamstrings.
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