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How Different is the Squat to the Hack Squat?


Since i started training i've tried doing squats with barbell but it was very painful for my neck etc... since then i 'm only working with the hack squat machine because the weight rests on the soulders and it feels is very confortable.
The thing i want to know is how different are these two exercices and how much could i lift in the squat exercice as i'm capable of lifting 250 pounds for 6reps in the hack squat and 650 pounds in the leg press.


Man the fuck up


The only way to know how much you can squat is to squat.

A lot of people experience discomfort when they first start squatting, but it goes away with time. You also likely have form issues and are not loading the bar on your back properly. The bar should not rest on your neck. You need to get your shoulder blades squeezed together and make a platform for the bar to rest on. Start squatting with the empty bar on your back, and gradually increase the weight over time, but really work on a tight upper back and making a platform for the bar. If you can, get some instruction on squat form from someone who can really squat.

The hack squat and leg press are not substitutes for a real squat.


Hack squats will put a lot more stress on your quads, and offer you a lot of support. On most hack squat machines you'll be in a reclined position so it puts next to no strain on your back, especially if you push back into the pad rather than straight up. The disadvantage of this is that you recruit less muscle to move the weight, and the stimulus for your body to grow is significantly reduced.

It is well worth trying to get used to squatting properly, as you will reap the benefits. Try asking a trainer or more experienced member of your gym to help you learn proper technique, or have a look at some articles or videos on this site. Try sticking with real squats for a month - you'll start to see improvement and you'll soon love them like most of the posters on the site.

Puddle, this is a beginners' forum, questions like this are expected. That attitude doesn't really help anybody, let alone beginners with good intentions.


^hahahaha, Puddle is just being blunty honest :slight_smile:
To give you a bit more in depth answer, they are quite different from each other. If you were to rate the exercises from Level 1 to Level 5, Level 1 being something like a remedial exercise or working on balance and level 5 being the absolute best choice as far muscle recruitment, work, etcetera. The hack squat and leg press would be a Level 3 and the barbell squat would be a Level 5.

A lot of people shy away from squats because they are an intense exercise and take time to master, so don't beat yourself up over it, but you do need to grow a pair and block out the discomfort. The "pain" will go away, I see guys that use the manpon on the bar and are 20 pounds bigger than me and sit there titter-tottering with just 185lbs on the bar-- why? Because they never took the time to master the squat, be a man and lift some heavy ass weight, and are just pansies in general. You will set yourself apart in 90% of the gyms out there if you learn to squat correctly with consistency.

As far as the neck pain, try moving the bar down a little bit so it sits on the wider part of your back/shoulders, this will spread out the load across your back instead of just sitting on your tiny neck and trap muscles. If you're serious about learning the squat check out "Squat Rx" on YouTube. Good luck and have fun learning.

EDIT: Sorry RT and Krash, your posts where not there when I posted. I guess the more info the merrier...


Solid advice.


There's a difference between pain as your body gets used to the weight being placed there (i.e. discomfort) and pain that is causing longer term damage. If your neck is hurting, you might be leaning forward and making the weight come over your neck. Check the squat rx videos linked and check to see if you're placing the bar correctly and are set up right.

If you can, take a video and post it here.

You could also try low bar squats and place the bar lower on your traps.


I second the low bar suggestion

For me it seemed like there's a much more obvious groove on the rear delts where it fits in pretty comfortably, and it won't be touching your neck at all.


Theres a difference between being a beginner, and being a pussy.

If you only trained on exercises i found "confortable", you probably wouldnt make much progress. If that were the case i'd sit in a massage chair to get stronger.


Or the OP can try front squats. For whatever reason, I've always hurt myself doing back squats. My form sucks and I feel weird doing them. I just stepped forward doing them today with a light weight (135 lbs) because my core and lower back was fatigued from doing front squats. Think I tweaked my back.

No more back squats for me. Fronts just feel more natural and I see no reason to do an exercise when they feel weird and I have had issues with them in the past. Maybe I'll revisit them as I get stronger, but till then no chance.


I hear what you are saying here but the best way to get stronger on an exercise is to do that exercise. Accessory work can only take you so far. If you are weak, or feel uncomfortable doing them, then play with your feet width, feet angles, hand width, head angle, box squats, with a belt, without a belt, all of it. Just keep squatting. There are way too many benefits to be derived from full-on back squats to just stop doing them "until you get stronger".


That's fair enough, although i'd really reccomend getting better at them. The issue here is the OP doesn't like back squats because the bar rubs against his neck a little.


Agreed, but the two aren't mutually exclusive - I do think as it is the Beginners' Forum, and he has come in here looking for advice, we should always assume he doesn't know any better.