You’ve probably heard of a hack squat machine and wondered how to use it. After all, it seems like a completely different piece of equipment from the other types of weight machines out there. Moreover, it’s not as simple as picking up dumbbells.
Hack squat machines are another type of knee extension. Hack squats often get overlooked, but if your goal is more toned glutes, this piece of equipment is a must.
Here’s everything you need to know about how to use a hack squat machine, including tips, techniques, correct form, benefits and common mistakes.
How to Use Hack Squat Machine the Right Way?
Here's how you use the hack squat machine:
- Add the desired amount of weight on the machine. It's advised for beginners to become familiar with the machine's motion before adding a lot of plates.
- Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and shoulders and back against the pads.
- Release the safety handles; take a deep breath, and lower yourself while bending your knees to a 90-degree angle.
- Take a moment to breathe, and stretch your legs back to the starting position by pushing up through the backs of your feet.
If you want to add cardio to your hack squats, you may also attempt variations with faster movements and less weight. As you would do normally, stoop down. As you push back up, push off the balls of your feet, and hop a bit.
Tips and Techniques for Hack Squat Machine
To ensure you get the most out of your workout on the hack squat machine, follow these simple tips:
- Try not to lock your knees. Even at the peak of the exercise, keeping your legs slightly bent helps prevent injury and keeps the muscles tense, allowing you to use them to their utmost capacity.
- Focus on maintaining core engagement throughout the workout.
- Don't exert too much effort. The best zone to work in while gradually increasing weight is 3-4 sets of 8–12 repetitions.
- When you push yourself too hard, you risk injury and downtime, which means you lose rather than gain.
- To protect your spine and ensuring you're engaging the right muscles, keep your head and back firmly placed on the pad at all times.
- To ensure that all your muscles are working, keep your weight on your heels.
It's not recommended that you perform the exercise without a spotter. For the same reason, it's a good idea to incorporate this exercise as an accessory lift after your hypertrophy or strength training routine or on other workout days, provided you strictly follow proper form and technique.
Benefits of Using Hack Squat Machine
Hack squats are a great alternative to traditional barbell back squats. They help you achieve bigger strength and muscle gains, as they are safer and easier to learn than the traditional back squat.
They also help you get more out of your squats, as they target a fixed plane. That helps improve your hip and ankle mobility. Better mobility can contribute to better core stability, strength, coordination and posture.
The hack squat exercise can improve your hip, ankle and spinal mobility. Increased mobility helps you build better core stability, strength and coordination. You'll also have an improved posture, as it follows functional form in movement.
This machine works in many different ways, with several variations and styles of bars. It's important to use good form when performing this barbell exercise to achieve maximum benefit while minimising the risk of injury.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
Although the hack squat is a movement that's suitable for beginners, there are a few things to be aware of.
Your foot position
Make sure your feet are not too high on the foot plate and that they are shoulder-width apart. To hit your quads harder, you might be tempted to stand with your feet higher and wider, but resist the urge, and maintain them at shoulder-width.
Going too fast and too heavy
A hack squat requires you to bend your knees at a 90-degree angle. You won't be able to reach that depth if the machine is too heavy. Prioritise proper form before increasing the weight.
Overall, a hack squat machine offers a way for you to get in some great training, without having to find a training partner or an adjustable barbell. If you want to build your legs into a powerhouse of strength and muscle, the hack squat can help you achieve that goal.
With the right gym equipment setup and hack squat machine, you can use this exercise to target your quadriceps and glutes.
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