What are Hack Squats? Tips, Technique, Correct Form, Benefits and Common Mistakes

All you need to know about hack squats. (image via Pexels/Photo by Monstera)
All you need to know about hack squats. (image via Pexels/Photo by Monstera)

If you’re looking for an exercise that works your entire lower body, hack squats are the way to go. The exercise focuses on your quads, flutes, hamstrings, and calves. This helps in giving your leg muscles the shape and toning they need for the physique you want.

How to do hack squats?

Hack squats are different and slightly easier than barbell squats. They help you focus on the quads completely instead of having to focus on your hips as well.

You’ll need a machine to do hack squats, and most gyms have a smith machine or a hack squat machine.

  • First, load the machine with an amount of weight you can handle. Start off with a lower weight and move your way up.
  • Next, step into the machine and place your feet at shoulder width.
  • Put your shoulders and back against the pad (for a hack squat machine) or put the barbell on your shoulders (for a smith machine).
  • Release the handles and slowly go down. As your knees begin to bend, it should make a 90-degree. Therefore, your quads will be perpendicular to your torso and parallel to the floor.
  • Push back with heels and extend your legs until you reach the neutral position.
  • Once you’re done with the reps, slowly lock the handles while maintaining balance and step out of the machine.

Tips to do hack squats better

There are ways to improve the way you execute hack squats by keeping some tips in mind.

Always find the balance first: This exercise requires sure-footing. It means if you start exercising without acquiring the required balance, you may end up with an injury.

Keep your core muscles tight: Your core muscles will help with stability and balance. You need to continue to keep them tight during the exercise to maintain stability.

Control your breathing: Inhale as you go down and exhale as you come up.

Progressive overload: If you want to continue attaining the benefits of this exercise, you need to indulge in progressive overload. Keep adding weight, increasing reps, or controlling negatives. There are different ways to progressive overload. It does not matter which one you choose, as long as you keep increasing the resistance.



  • Prepares you for the traditional/barbell squat
  • Improves the core strength
  • Enables you to lift heavier weight
  • Helps in building your quads, glutes, and hamstrings
  • Focused on improving athletic performance.

Common mistakes

Incorrect foot placement

Your foot placement is of utmost importance in this workout. If it’s not correct, you may end up hurting your knees or quads or pulling your hamstrings. Ideally, you should try 1 set with no weights to get the foot setting right.


Taking on too much weight

You shouldn’t try to go too fast. It’s better to perfect the exercise before adding more weights rather than adding more weights with an incorrect form.

The more weight, the higher the resistance. An incorrect form will land you in a world of pain. So, start off slow and light and build towards heavier weights.

Bottom line

This is an amazing exercise for the legs. You can try variations of the same such as reverse hack squats, narrow hack squats, and others. Ultimately, all of these variations require you to learn the basics first before trying an advanced weight.

Edited by Sabine Algur