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Hack Squat Alternatives

The hack squat is the favorite exercise of most lifters as it helps build powerful quadriceps. At the same time, it does not put much stress on the lower back. However, the exercise can only be performed with a hack squat machine. This equipment isn’t easily accessible to most people who work out in their homes or even in most gyms. If all you have are some free weights and barbells at the most, can you still leverage the benefits of hack squats? The answer is yes. Various hack squat alternatives target the same muscles, allowing you to strengthen your lower body. In this article, we’ll explain nine of these alternatives. 

9 Hack Squat Alternatives

1. Front Squat

Front Squat

Front squat is one of the best alternatives to hack squats as it emphasize quads. This exercise also improves the overall posture and core stability. Besides the quadriceps, front squats work the glutes, back, shoulders, midsection, and arms. Perform it as follows:

  • Pick a barbell and set it at collarbone height.
  • Stand in front of it and place your fingertips on the bar.
  • Now, step forward and bend your arms.
  • Rotate your wrists so your palms face the ceiling.
  • Your fingertips should firmly be in contact with the bar.
  • Lift your elbows to shoulder level.
  • Now, straighten your knees to unrack the barbell. 
  • Take two steps back and descend into a squat.
  • Keep lowering till your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  • Move back to the starting position. 

Read Also: CrossFit Workouts And Exercises

2. Barbell Back Squat

Barbell Back Squat

Barbell back squats increase muscle mass, strength, and stamina. They are easy to learn and can be done by anyone regardless of their current fitness level. 

  • One of the major muscles worked through this exercise is the quadriceps. It also targets glutes, hamstrings, lower back, biceps, shoulders, midsection, and forearms. 
  • Load a barbell and position it behind your legs. 
  • The feet should be shoulder-width apart.
  • Hinge at the hips so your buttocks go back.
  • Grab the barbell firmly. Your hands should be outside your lower legs.
  • Press your heels firmly into the floor and pull the bar straight up.
  • Fully extend your knees and squeeze your glutes to complete the movement. 
  • Lower the barbell, keeping it close to your body. 
  • Repeat it.

3. Sissy Squat

Sissy Squat

Sissy squats are effective for lower body strength building. The best part is that you only need your body weight to perform this exercise. A sissy squat works your quadriceps and gives a stretch to these muscles. 

  • Stand up straight and keep your feet hip-width apart.
  • Now, elevate your feet as if you are doing a calf raise.
  • Engage your glutes. Push your knees forward. 
  • After going low or getting your knees past your toes, pause for a second. Now, stand back up.

4. Bulgarian Split Squat

Bulgarian Split Squat

You wouldn’t have thought that a single-leg exercise could be an alternative to the traditional hack squat. The Bulgarian split squat is a highly challenging and terrific alternative. It can be done with a barbell, dumbbell, or even your body weight. This exercise works the hamstrings, glutes, calves, and core.

  • Stand around two feet in front of a strong bench or chair. 
  • Place your right foot on the bench. 
  • Your feet should be hip distance apart.
  • Do not keep the elevated foot directly behind your front, as it will make balancing difficult.
  • Keep your core engaged and chest high.
  • Now, bend your left knee. Do not take the load with your back leg. 
  • Hinge slightly forward at your hips. The left knee should be aligned with your left toes. 
  • Inhale when you go down. Stop when your left quad is almost parallel to the floor.
  • Press back to the standing position by pushing through your left foot.
  • This movement should be powered by your quad and glute.

5. Goblet Squat

Goblet Squat

The goblet squat is a robust full-body exercise. It is a burning motion that is not only in the lower body but from the shoulders to the toes. If you want to tone your mid-section and boost glute strength, this exercise is a must. As an alternative to hack squats, goblet squat works your quads, calves, core, and glutes. It also increases your arm and grip strength.

  • Grab a weight such as a dumbbell, kettlebell, or medicine ball.
  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Now, brace your core. Lower down into a squat position.
  • Keep your chest up.
  • Sit back into your heels. Do not shift your weight onto the balls of your feet.
  • Try to get a deep squat.
  • Now, drive through your heels and get back to the standing position.
  • Squeeze your glutes at the top.

6. Landmine Squat

Landmine Squat

Landmine squat is performed with a barbell and a landmine attached. This hack squat variation does not put pressure on your lower back. It helps correct muscle imbalances. Landmine squat targets the quadriceps along with the upper and lower back, glutes, midsection, upper chest, shoulders, arms, and hamstrings. 

  • On a landmine attachment, anchor one end of the barbell.
  • Now, take the opposite barbell sleeve. Raise it to your chest height.
  • Position your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Bend your knees and descend into a squat position.
  • Keep descending till your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  • Hold yourself in this position for a second and then return to the top position. 

7. Smith Machine Squat

Smith Machine Squat

If you have a Smith machine at your gym, performing the Smith machine squat will give you the benefits of a hack squat. These type of squats puts a lot of emphasis on the quad muscles. Besides, the quadriceps, Smith machine squats also work the glutes, hamstrings, midsection, back, arms, and shoulders.

  • Set the Smith machine bar a bit below your collarbone height. 
  • Load the bar appropriately.
  • Place your hands on the bar. Tuck your head under the bar and position your back muscles against it.
  • Step forward a few inches. They should be slightly bent.
  • Unrack the bar by straightening your legs and removing the safety latches.
  • Descend into the squat position.
  • Your thighs should be parallel to the floor.
  • Hold this position for a second. Now, straighten your legs by pressing through the heels.

8. Wall Squat

Wall Squat

Wall squats burn your quadriceps, helping you build endurance in these muscles. Also called the devil’s chair, the exercise targets your glutes, calves, and quads. The best part is, you do not need any equipment to perform a wall squat.

  • Stand with your back against the wall. 
  • Keep your abdominal muscles engaged and descend down till your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  • Your back should be flat against the wall, and your knees directly above your ankles.
  • Hold this position for at least 20 seconds.
  • Now, go back up to the starting position.

Read Also: Best Compound Triceps Exercises

9. Leg Press

Leg Press

The leg press is an effective movement that builds strength in the quadriceps and hamstrings. Unlike the hack squat machine, the leg press machine is easily accessible and is an integral part of almost all gyms.

  • Sit on the leg press machine with your head and back resting against the padded support.
  • Push the platform with your heels and forefoot.
  • Extend your legs with slow control and keep your back and head flat against the seat pad.
  • Pause briefly at the top. 
  • Now, return the platform to the beginning position by bending your knees.

Summing up

Hack squat alternatives build strength in the quadriceps like no other exercise. But if you don’t have the necessary equipment for them, there are plenty of alternatives that are just as effective. From front squats to goblet squats and even leg presses, there are plenty of options for everyone. You can perform the exercise variations at home or the gym, facilitating the development of lower body mass, stability, and strength.