T Nation

Substitute for Hacks


Quick disclaimer - I did a search for this topic and returned a lot of results. But, the results were suggesting hack squats be substituted IN for other leg work.

In a training day that does NOT have standard barbell squats in it but DOES have hack squats, what exercise, if any, can be substituted in for the hacks? (I don't have a hack squat machine at my gym.) Can regular BB squats be kept in? Or is there another workout that more specifically emulates the hack?


Front squats?


Confusion between hack squats and a hack squat machine. This should clear it up http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLgPJVwemtU


I have literally never seen the barbell hack. That's awesome. Appreciate the video. And Joab - good thought, too. I will probably add these both into my leg day and rotate them. Other suggestions are always welcome.


The hack squat is most similar to a 'half-squat', or a high box squat if you want the legs to be unloaded at the bottom. If you want to stress the quads more, keep the torso more upright and allow the knees to drift farther forward (or just do front squats). There is more stress on the knees as a result, though, so it would be wise to lower the weight and lift in the 8-12 range rather than going heavy.


The only issue I have found with the barbell hack squat is that some people are just mechanically unable to perform it smoothly. For example, if you have longer legs and shorter arms, you'll have some issues with the hamstrings getting in the way. Try different foot placements and go from there.


I despised doing barbell hack squats because the bar would scratch up the back of my legs. Maybe I just sucked at them lol.

Are machines (hack,leg press) out of the question? Otherwise front squats would be my first free bar choice. Zercher squats is another movement, but you're limited by the amount you can carry.


Dude - right now the workout includes extensions, leg press, and hacks. Hamstrings have SLDLs and curls. I dont have the hack machine in my gym, so I was thinking to sub something in. Front squats are good, obviously. And BB hacks, too - but I worry about my back since I've never done them before.


You could also try barbell lunges or step ups as another option.


Does your gym have a trap bar? Hack squats are awesome with one of those. You have to make sure to keep the torso vertical, but you don't have to worry about spinal position (watch that vid again, and pay attention to his lumbar spine) or your hams interfering with the bar path.


Back problems? Start light! Those are all great exercises listed. Change of foot placement with any of the exercises can have a different effect - different muscles stressed.

Lunges, as mentioned, both forward and backward steps.

Trap bar ... I've used it, but never thought of it as a leg exercise, although it supposedly resembles a squat than a deadlift.