Hack Squats Vs Normal Squats – Which should you be doing?

The Squat is one of the three exercises in the strength sport of powerlifting, beside deadlifts and benchpress, mainly strengthening your leg and buttock muscles. And Hack Squat and Squat are two of the most effective variations of it.

There are many controversial opinions between professionals as well as gymers about which one is more beneficial. Unfortunately, if you look for a round on several gym blogs, you will surely be in disorder because there’s definitely no right or wrong answer to this question.


The only solution is a complete comparison between Squats with Hack Squats so that you can choose the more suitable exercise for your workouts. This confrontation includes the differences in muscles targeted, pros and cons and how-to-do.

Before entering the showdown, let’s have a brief overview on two types of squats in order to discriminate them without mistakes.

These squats are usually performed with a barbell kept on the upper-back shoulders to move up and down your core. The hack squats are executed on a machine tilted 45 degrees to the floor by using your legs to move the weight held on your shoulders.

Things To Consider: Hack Squats Vs. Squats

Muscles Worked

Squats are a full body exercise which targets primarily the muscles of thighs, hips and buttock, quadriceps and hamstrings as well as the muscles in the lower back. They also help trainees build up abdominal muscles and develop core strength.

Back Squat


Hack Squat

Hack Squat - strengthsensei.com

On the other hand, Hack squats are a multi-jointed exercise mainly training the quadriceps muscles on the front of your thigh and the gluteus maximus.

Pros And Cons

Hack Squats

The hack squats is a superb workout if you are faced with unbalanced problem of your leg muscles, thanks to its supportive equipment. The hack machine provides you the balance and stability to protect your lower back from injuries, which the freestanding squat rack cannot. 

Moreover, it permits trainees to adopt a smaller stance while making the motions without the tension in imbalance.

Another variation of the hack squat is the split squat, which puts less strain on the back and more on the glutes and hams.

  • It is extremely appropriate for the beginners to perform until the body is strong, balanced and stable enough to practice with the more difficult squat variations.
  • The risk of tensions in your lower back is reduced less than in squats, but still definitely exists.
Hack Squat

However, your posture isn’t natural as your body is fixed based on the structure of the machine. With that said, your back is moved in a sloping position instead of vertically, your head and neck may be forced into a narrow space some machines have.

  • You may choose heavy weight for your strong legs. However, your shoulders might be unbearable when you push up the weight. Either low bar or high bar, it can cause serious tension problem.
  • The sudden drop might be a problem that folds your legs immediately and causes serious injuries for the legs if you cannot control the speed and grasp the handle firmly when moving down.


Squats are a whole body workout since this exercise tones up not only your quads, hamstrings, and calves but also your biceps, triceps and chest. Therefore, your body is totally trained to burn off calories and decrease body fat.

  • Your abdominal muscles are called upon simultaneously when performing this exercise, which helps you build up your abs and obtain a six-pack.
  • Squats remain the flexibility of your body as you get older by increasing the leg strength - the determinant factor of flexibility.
  • If you ensure to maintain a balance of the weight on both sides of your body, you will avoid several injuries partly. 
  • 90% of most gym traumas stems from weak stabilizer muscles.
Back Squat

But ...

  • Squatting heavily on a consistent base would create a higher level of stress on your knees and lower back, which makes them liable to traumas.
  • Your lumber spine safety is significantly considered despite an incorrect position of your back and an inappropriate weight. Many gymers have to suffer back injuries when they practice with a too curved posture.


There are also many variations of hack squats you can practice such as: barbell hack squats, hack squats with Smith machine. And about these of back squats, front squats, Sumo squats or overhead squats are also ideal alternatives to challenge yourself.

Don’t forget to consider carefully related your gymnastic goals!

How To Do Hack Squats 

  • Put your back of the torso on the back pad and your shoulders under the shoulder pads. Keep your head straight forward and back on the pad during the exercise.
  • Examine the safety and weight of the bars and then unbolt.
  • Straighten your legs without locking knees. Put your feet at shoulder width apart and your toes a little outwards.
  • Gradually descend by curving the knees until the point in which the upper legs are under parallel to the ground. Breathe in when performing.
  • Gradually ascend mainly with your heels in control while straightening your legs and return to the starting position. Breathe out when performing.
  • Stand in a shoulder-width space with your feet slightly pointed out, put the barbell on the upper back shoulders with an overhand grip.
  • Slowly descend by curving your knees and pushing your hips back until the bottom of squat and then keep this posture for 3-5 seconds. Inhale when performing these actions.
  • Slowly push the barbell up and return to starting position as you exhale.

Hack Squats Vs. Squats – The Winner Is?

As mentioned at the beginning, it is really difficult to find out an exact answer for this showdown since it significantly depends on your physiques, exercise goals and efforts.

These superlative squat exercises have their different pros and cons, so the key strategy is how to take advantage of the benefits and minimize the weaknesses to obtain the achievement expected.

Hungry For More Squatting Info?

If you want to read more about squats then we here at Fitness Purity have you covered! Take a look at:

The benefits of Front Squats vs Back Squats, and how to do them correctly - This article is essential info for those wanting to venture into the land of front squats.  We discuss the form and common beginner mistakes, as well as pros and cons of both exercises before determining which one would be added in your fitness journey.

Should You Use Knee Sleeves for Squats?   We review the five best options and explain when you need to switch to a knee wrap instead.

Thanks for reading, and before you go, please leave a comment below to discuss which one is your favorite. 

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