Which is the King of Squat Exercises, Squats or Machine Hack Squats?

Building your legs is essential in providing your muscles a proper foundation, balance and body symmetry. Two of the most effective exercises for increasing lean muscle in your Quadriceps, gluteus maximus, Hamstrings and Calves are Hack Squats and regular squats. But which exercise reigns as a king of leg workouts? This comparative showdown will determine the advantages of both exercises. We will let you be the judge as to which exercise is best suited for you.

Hack Squats - Muscles Targeted

Let’s begin by analyzing which muscles hack squats targets. The barbell hack squat is a multi joint exercise and mainly targets your quadriceps, gluteus maximus and magnus posterior (Inner Thighs). The range of motions allows to complete the same range of motion on a regular squat on an incline trajectory.

To perform the machine hack squat properly

The machine hack squat is a great leg workout for many reasons.

1 Place the back of your torso on the back pad of the machine and hook your shoulders under the shoulder pads provided.

2 Position your legs in the platform, using a shoulder width medium stance, with your toes slightly pointed out.

3 Place your arms on the side handles on the machine and disengage the safety bars, which on most designs is done by moving the side handles from a side position to a diagonal position.

4 Now, straighten your legs without locking the knees. This will be your starting position.

5 Begin to slowly lower the unit by bending the knees, while marinating a straight posture

with the head up and back on the pad at all times

6 Continue doesn’t until the angle between the upper legs and the calves becomes slightly less than 90 degrees. Which is the point where the upper legs are below parallel to the floor.

It’s slightly easier to do than the barbell squat, and it allows you to target specific muscles depending upon which variation of the exercise you choose.

Hack Squats – Variations

There are variations of the machine hack squat that can be achieved by varying the position of your footing on the machine. Typically, the ideal stance for a machine hack squat is performed with your feet placed at shoulder-width apart and mainly puts stress on your quadriceps, butt and inner thighs.

By altering your stance like placing your feet wider than shoulder-width will work your inner thighs more effectively. A narrower stance that is less than shoulder width apart will put more strain on your quadriceps muscles.

Hack Squats – Benefits

If you have any imbalance in your leg muscles, or your quadriceps are lacking in strength compared to your hamstrings and calves, than the machine hack squat is the best exercise to fix the imbalance. It’s a simple exercise that allows a variety of stances to effectively work different parts of your quadriceps.

Regular Squats - Muscles Targeted


Like the machine hack squat, back squats are a multi-joint exercise as well. Squats are designed to target all the muscles in your legs, you can also expect to feel it in your lower back, and abdominals.

To Perform The Squat Properly

Squats are performed balancing a barbell on your shoulders and squatting down with the weight. It’s crucial to pay attention to the placement of the bar, your stance, foot positioning, and range of motion. The following list describes how to perform a squat properly.

1. Set the rack height so that the bar is at the level at your mid sternum

2. Placing a barbell on your shoulders with your feet shoulder width apart

3. Pay careful attention that that placement of the bar is balanced, placed evenly on the traps and your feet are pointed slightly outwards at an angle of 30 degrees

4. Use the finger marks to determine your grip on the bar (thumbs on top of the bar to insure the wrist is in a straight line with your forearm

5. Dip your head underneath the bar so that the bar rests just below the spine on the scapula(the bone you feel at the top of the shoulder blades)

6. Secure it place by lifting your elbows and chest at the same time

7. It should feel the bar is resting on a shelf; under the traps and on top of the posterior deltoids.

8. Look down at the bottom of the floor and squat while slightly moving your knees outwards as your descend. ( allow your hips to control the movements)

9. In the full range of motion, with your body aligned as mentioned descend to the bottom, driving your glutes straight up back to the upright position.

Regular Squats - The Benefits

Squats is a multi-joint exercise that comes with a lot of benefit; not just to your legs, but your entire body! This makes squats helpful in burning calories and decreasing body fat. Additionally, the squat integrates your abdominal muscles when the exercise is performed, which makes it a go to exercise for achieving rock hard abs.

One of the biggest benefits of performing squats is how it supports the preventing of injuries. To perform a squat, a bar bell is balanced evenly on the shoulders. The results over time accumulate stronger stabilizer muscles, ligaments and connective tissues. Since 90% of athletic injuries are due to weak stabilizer muscles, squats act like an ideal preventative measure.

The Squat also has a tremendous effect on increasing overall functional strength and helps with maintaining mobility as you age.

Our legs are our foundation of our body and a primary component to mobility. The biggest benefit of performing back squats is its ability to create an anabolic environment in your body. Although squats build your quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximum and calves, it will also build up muscles in your chest, and arms; Squats will get the whole body working

Hack Squats vs Regular Squats - Who Wins?

When it comes to the machine hack squat, it is an ideal exercise for specifically for targeting your quadriceps, gluteus maximus and inner thighs. By moving your feet closer or further apart, it allows you to focus on one of those three muscles.

The back squat on the other hand, is a whole body workout. Squats target all the muscles in your legs, abdominals, and back. Due to the anabolic nature of this exercise, you can expect to see growth in muscles aside from just your legs.

Which exercise is best? In my opinion, regular squats wins the game, but you can replace back squats with machine hack squats or add it to your leg workout when you need to focus on building up your quadriceps. What do you think?

About The Author: Gordon Joseph Culp is a SEO and social media marketing expert and Marketing Director for BODYPRO GYM. His large marketing and advertising experience, technical skill-set has proven successful in the Renewable energies, sub-contracting and Fitness industries respectively.

Visit www.BodyProGym.ca


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