The early 2000’s were all about the free squat, but the hack squat has made a serious comeback and many gym equipment manufacturers are jumping in to weigh their 2 cents on the perfect design. This article will discuss what the hack squat is, when to use it, and our top 10 versions ever built.
What is a Hack Squat?
A hack squat is a machine designed to keep the body in place to help build the quad and hamstring muscles. This is a compound movement, which takes a lot of effort and is usually used for muscle building, not necessarily strength building. The hack squat machine removes the need for stability like in a barbell squat to allow the sole focus on the muscle.
What is NOT a Hack Squat:
A hack squat has become a general term when referencing squat machines, but the truth is, many of these machines are not hack squats.
For instance, there are Power Squat machines,
Pendulum Squat Machines
The Swing Squat
the Belt Squat, and probably more.
This article is discussing Hack Squats only.
Hack Squat Foot Placement
Depending on which muscle group is your primary target will decide where you want to place your feet for a hack squat. The closer and lower they get, the more quad dominant the movement will become. The further and higher they get, the more glute and hamstring dominant the movement will become. There isn’t any right or wrong, it’s about training a muscle. Keep in mind that stabilization and mobility are key as well and the correct placement isn’t always the most extreme.
How should you train on a Hack Squat?
Training on a hack squat varies based on your goals. We’ve seen people go heavy with low reps, go lighter with high reps, do them first in their workout, do them last in their workout. The truth is, because it’s a compound lift, you should place them where you find them most effective for your goals.
Hack Squat vs Leg Press
Choosing one to train on until the end of time would be a painful decision. We think the hack squat is slightly superior to the leg press due to the amount of quad recruitment you get and the mimicking of a free squat. Although foot placement plays into effect, the leg press may recruit more hamstring and glute than the traditional hack squat. These movements are not mutually exclusive and should both be trained or rotated through.
Top 10 Best Commercial Hack Squats
The super hack machine is only ranked 10 because we haven’t actually seen one in person in the US yet, but it looks great and the Panatta brand is trending in the fitness industry. We expect to see more and more in the US in the upcoming years.
- Platform incline is adjustable
- Linear sliding system for constant load tension
- Safety level system for easy start
9.) Arsenal Strength
Arsenal is the hottest brand in bodybuilding equipment. Their hack machine is heavy duty with a ton of comfort. This machine has a lower degree angle, which allows for a different type of motion and you can load them up a little heavier.
- Angled footplates with adjustable deck angle
- Range limiters to control depth
- Band pegs for resistance bands to add a greater amount of tension throughout the range of motion
- Full back support
Now owned by Rogue, Reflex made some of the best equipment in the 90’s and 2000’s. Ergonomically, they just make sense. This is a heavy duty piece and chances are, you won’t find a gym with one. Reflex brand equipment is rarely seen anymore.
- 40-50 degree with 3 position adjustable and over sized foot deck
- 45 degree main frame
- Weight band capability
- Multi-positions where main stops can be bolted for taller athletes.
7.) Elite FTS
Although they’re known as a powerlifting brand, Elite FTS makes some heavy duty equipment for some of the most hardcore gyms. Large footprints & big pads offer maximum comfort for going heavy.
- Band Pegs at the top and bottom, which helps to overload the top or deload the bottom of the lift.
- Design allows users to go below parallel during a squat.
- Five adjustments allows you to adjust the angle of the platform
A long time ago, in a land far away, Nebula was one of the most sought after brands in bodybuilding. Their hack squat and leg press were staple pieces in the line. Nebula always did things a little different and was one of the first hack squats with the two angle foot plates.
- Adjustable foot plate
- Adjustable stops to control depth
5.) Flex Fitness
A simple slim design with a long back pad and long weight horns. These machines were meant to be loaded up.
- Wide footplate
- Angled platform for knee comfort and constant tension on the quads
- Extra-large plate holders
4.) Precor / Icarian
Both brands made an identical hack squat with a different brand name on it. Although not terribly rare, this machine is loved by bodybuilders everywhere. The only complaint commonly heard is that the back piece could go a little longer down for more support.
- Eliminates spine compression
- Footplate angle is below 45º which reduces stress on knees
- Oversized footplate
3.) Body Masters
One of the most comfortable commercial hack squats of all time is the Body Masters plate loaded hack. Although they’re known for their selectorized machines more, this machine hits just right and has the heavy duty construction so you can go hard and remain stable.
- 40º deck angle puts less stress on knees
- Very rare machine
- Can be used face forwards for more quad emphasis or to the back for more posterior chain emphasis
- Full back support
Atlantis is making one of the coolest hack squats. The Hack Squat Pro is a 30 degree angle machine, which means you’ll likely need some more weight on there. The big boy sled has wheels instead of bearings to give an even smoother feel. This machine even has adjustable safeties for those maximizing their range of motion.
- Smoother movement
- Adjustable footplate
- Angled shoulder pads for minimum stress on traps
- Ability to switch between hack squat and leg press movement with adjustable backrest
- Adjustable safeties
- Band pegs at the top and bottom of machine
- Three positions for racking
- Automatic disengage
Old school or new school, the Cybex hack squat is more upright causing more pressure on the muscle and less over-the-top plate loading necessary. It’s design also doesn’t cause extra pressure on the lower back as some will. The Cybex Hack Squat also has a relatively small footprint, which allows more space for gym owners. Overall, this is a must try machine.
- Plate loading at hip-height
- Large footplate
- Start position can be changed for various heights
- More effective at targeting working muscles
- Less load needed for maximum muscle activation
Obviously the ranking of the machines in this article are based on personal opinion. Body shape, limb length, exercise experience level and fitness goals play a part in which machine is preferred by an individual lifter. None the less, we hope this post is helpful identifying variations of Hack squats among 10 different brands and what they could provide for you and your workout.
©EliteFTS all right reserved. Power Squat https://www.elitefts.com/eliteftstm-power-squat.html
Hammer Strength V-Squat ©2021 Life Fitness. All rights reserve. Life Fitness is a registered trademark https://www.lifefitness.com/en-us/catalog/strength-training/plate-loaded/plate-loaded/plate-loaded-v-squat
Arsenal Strength LLC Pendulum Squat https://myarsenalstrength.com/strength-equipment/reloaded/featured-reloaded/reloaded-pendulum-squat/
The Bear Squat https://www.jumpusa.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=BEAR
Swing Squat US Patent #5626548 https://swingsquat.com/
©2021 Titan Brands. All Rights Reserved Belt Squat Machine https://www.titan.fitness/strength/specialty-machines/lower-body/belt-squat-machine/400666.html
Hammer Strength Plate Loaded Liner Leg Press ©2021 Life Fitness. All rights reserve. Life Fitness is a registered trademark https://www.lifefitness.com/en-us/catalog/strength-training/plate-loaded/plate-loaded/plate-loaded-linear-leg-press
©Panatta srl, all rights reserved. P.I. 01823340433 https://www.panattasport.com/en/product/1HP587.html#
Arsenal Strength LLC P.I. 10967218 https://myarsenalstrength.com/strength-equipment/reloaded/lower-body-reloaded/reloaded-linear-hack-squat/
©Rogue Fitness, all right reserved P.I. 4333644A https://www.roguefitness.com/reflex-hack-squat-linear-bearing
©EliteFTS all right reserved. https://www.elitefts.com/eliteftstm-monster-hack-squat.html
©2022 Precor Incorporated https://www.globalfitness.com/products/used-precor-icarian-hack-slide?variant=19118459879522
Body Masters Hack Squat Image source: https://www.revaluefitness.com/shop/promaxima-p107-lat-raise/
Atlantis Strength Inc. 2022. All rights reserved. Hack Squat Pro Model PW412 https://atlantisstrength.com/gym-equipment/pw412
Cybex ©2021 Life Fitness. All rights reserve. Life Fitness is a registered trademark Part Number 55399 D https://www.lifefitness.com/en-us/cybex/plate-loaded-hack-squat