T Nation

Hack Squats Instead of Back Squats


Just looking for a bit of advice to check that I'm not about to waste a whole lot of time and effort.

Due to a 15 year old shoulder injury and a serious amount of arthritis in the joint I do not had the flexability to get my left arm back far enough to hold the bar for a back squat. Instead I pretty much just cheated myself out of decent leg development and deadlifted like crazy for the last year since getting back into the weights after a long period off doing other sports. I have some strength base and DL 407 currently for singles.

I have just changed to a new gym that has a sweet Hack Squat machine and could see myself getting stuck into them as long as they are an adequate (if not ideal) substitute for building decent leg mass.

Has anyone used Hack Squats as their primary leg building exercise or in your opinion are they just not going to cut it.

Front Squats are also difficult to hold any decent weight because of the shoulder but I am making a slow and concerted effort to see if I can build into these also.

Cheers in advance for any advice.


Whatever you can do pain free! Do you have access to a cambered bar? Have you tried the charles poliquin way of doing front squats with straps?


I've heard this machine gets different names, seen it been called a "Plate Loaded Squat Machine" before. It it's the machine I'm thinking of I remember a post from Prof X talking about him using it before (6 to 8 plates a side IIRC I could be wrong on the 8). Don't know if it's his prime leg machine but certainly more than squats.

Does using straps on the bar for Front Squats help you?

FWIW I've used this machine a lot in the first few years. I still use it now and again but I'm working on squat numbers so not as much nowadays.


You got 2 options convince your gym owner to invest in a safety squat bar or get a frount squat harness from getstrength.com nz company. No bullshit machine will evercome close to the real thing hack squats should be a last resort good luck here's the links.




There are no rules saying you must back squat. Just use what works.

Maybe warm up you knees with some leg extensions first and then with the first set do 20-25 half reps at the bottom of the hack squat.


There's nothing wrong with the hack squat. It's a squat minus the back involvement. You can actually work your legs harder on a hack squat machine because your back isn't a limiting factor.


Google hack squat machine. It's not a plate loaded squat. That's a HS V-Squat. Or a super squat. A hack squat is on a track. Like an reverse leg press.

Hack squats can be an ok substitute. Vary your foot placement over time. Also use the leg press, do lunges, extensions, step ups and all the hamstring stuff. You dont NEED to squat to build big legs.


If you want to back squat, you can slide a strap around the bar and hold onto that. That's what I did after dislocating my shoulder since I couldn't reach back that far.


One of the gyms I go to has the HS Linear Hack:

This machine is GREAT because your lower back (lumbar) is supported right in the nook of the seat. You grab the handles below your back and there is essentially no load on your back. The legs are hit effectively and you can get pretty deep with this machine.

Every bit as good as a traditional leg press or shoulder loaded hack squat-- at least for me.


I actually do this a lot, except not in such a high rep range. Using the extensions as a pre-exhaust device, and then doing bottom 2/3 movements really torches my legs (try to use close stance as well to really focus on my VL as well)



If you don't do back squats, how are you going to get a total???


reads forum info at top of page


backs out of thread slowly


Yeah...you're the one I got the idea from and my quads have grown really well since...and my glutes have not...WIN!

also the hack squat idea was just for the first set...with no weight....just loosens up the knees in that range of motion i've found


I lol'd at this


I totally agree. I just found this HS Linear Hack press and it's awesome. No load on the back. I like it so much I was thinking of buying it for my home gym if I quit the regular gym


Sorry I've got my terms muddled. HS V-Squat is what I'm thinking.


I now know the hack squat/reverse leg press being said, and I've never used it before. Only one of the gyms here in the network of 4 gyms where I have membership has one.


Thanks for all the feedack.

My new gym does indeed have a proper Hack Squat machine on rails and I can go very deep on it which is good news (and considerably more painful than the lame partial movements I used to do!).

The idea of doing deep half reps is a great one and is definitly going to be added into my routine.

Front squats with straps is not something I have seen before so will Google this and see if I can make it work.

The new gym does have a bar with grips welded on the front of it that go over the shoulder so they can be grabbed either side of your neck. I have tried it and although its ok the weight seems to sit in a slightly different position than what I was used to (when I could still get my arm back for normal squats) and seems to stress my lower back in a more awkward way ... could just take time to adjust and get used to it though.

And cheers Bonez for the reminder that I should be diong lunges etc as well as I got a bit lazy on these type of movements.


How about barbell hack squats?



Can we Sticky This?! -lol



Just something to consider, but there are quad dominant deadlifts.



Hey Fletch,

Thanks for that link about the DL training.

Deadlifts are far and away my favourite exercise and this was a good reminder of the different variations that I had either forgotten about or never known in the first plaace.

Cheers bro