Reverse Hack Squat – Benefits, How To Do, Muscles Work and Alternatives

Reverse Hack Squat

It’s easier to spot an athlete with a huge upper body but scrawny chicken legs.

Such athletes build their upper body parts all day but neglect their legs. Given a chance, they would rather skip the leg day at the gym.

When working on your leg muscles, you might have to deal with a weight that’s twice or thrice your bodyweight.

This makes leg workout not only a major calorie burner but a tough exercise as well.

But you need to work on your legs for you to have an aesthetic body. And you don’t need to do squats and leg raises to develop your legs to the level you want.

There are alternative exercises that work to give you impressive legs. One of those alternatives is the reverse hack squat. In this article, we’re going to dive deep into this exercise.

What Does A Reverse Hack Squat?

A reverse hack squat is a leg exercise that works your glutes and hamstrings. It is an ideal leg work out if you’re looking to have very strong and well-developed legs.

To perform this workout, you will need a hack squat machine or the smith machine.

reverse hack squat machine

But unlike the front squat, you will be facing the weights and rest your chest against the pads.

The reverse hack squat is a compound leg movement that first came to existence after George Hackenschmidt used it.

Ever since that time, it has become one of the favorite leg workouts for bodybuilders and wrestlers.

During its infancy stage, it was a leg workout that could only be performed by professional and experienced bodybuilders.

But today, even neophyte bodybuilders can perform the reverse hack squat, thanks to the machines.

Today, you will develop all the major leg muscles without using your stabilizer muscles. This makes performing this leg exercise simpler.

Also, you will engage your posterior chain less often as you would without the hack squat machine.

This exercise also lets you target some leg muscles such as the quads, glutes, and hamstrings. You only need to vary your feet positions to develop these muscles at a time!

That’s pretty much what the reverse hack squat is all about.

Benefits Of Reverse Hack Squat

Any person performing the reverse hack squat will rip some benefits. Besides isolating some muscles on your legs for a targeted workout, you also find that:

hack squat benefits
  • It’s A Well-Planned Thigh Exercise

The reverse hack squat has gained popularity for its ability to develop all your thigh muscles.

It is not like other leg workouts that only develop a single muscle in your thigh.

This one develops all the muscles and you can choose to target each muscle at a time.

As such, it is a complete thigh workout exercise! Bodybuilders can, therefore, find the reverse hack squat very handy when it comes to building their legs.

  • It Doesn’t Hurt Your Lower Back

Other workout routines might wear you out sooner than you think. If you are performing workouts such as a basic barbell squat and deadlift, your lower back might hurt because of pressure the weights exert on them.

Besides, such workout routines need more strength, balance, conditioning, and stability to perform. All these only put stress on your lower back.

Fortunately, a reverse hack squat lets you use your body to stabilize your lower back.

As a result, you don’t risk injuring your back because of performing the workout using heavier weights.

  • Uses Controlled Planes

A reverse hack squat machine lets you perform this workout routine on controlled planes. Your horizontal and vertical movements are controlled, making this workout routine easier to perform than before.

Also, the controlled planes make sure you don’t swing the weights around. This is helpful since it ensures you don’t risk any spinal injuries.

As a result, the reverse hack squat is easy to perform and very safe for anyone performing it.

You don’t have to worry about balancing the weights you are dealing with in this case. Your only concern will be performing the right movements for strong and well-developed leg muscles.

  • It Builds Your Leg Mass And Increases Power

The reserve hack squat builds sufficient power in your inner thighs, knees, and shins.

If you are looking to lift more weight in a deadlift or squats, packing more power using these workout routines becomes ideal.

The reverse hack squat machine and the smith machines achieve the same results when it comes to building more power in your legs.

Some people might want to perform this workout routine on a squat machine.

If you do this, you might not have enough power in your legs. Only a reverse hack squat machine or the smith machine can engage your stabilizer muscles.

As a result, they build enough power in your legs. As such, you should perform this work out on a reverse hack squat machine!

How To Do Reverse Hack Squat

When using a reverse hack squat machine, there are a few steps to follow. The steps will make sure you are performing the workout correctly.

Also, the steps make performing this workout simple. The steps include:

  • Step 1: Load comfortable weights to the reverse hack squat machine.
  • Step 2: Stand on the foot platform with your chest facing the support pad.
  • Step 3: Put your shoulders underneath the shoulder-cushioning pads.
  • Step 4: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Step 5: Hold the side handles and place your chest against the chest pads.
  • Step 6: Extend your legs to lift the shoulder pads then disengage the safety bars.
  • Step 7: Slowly lower yourself into a squat position so your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold this position for a second.
  • Step 8: Lift the weights again and stop before your knees are locked out straight.
  • Step 9: Repeat steps 7 and 8 as many times as you can.

What Muscles Does Reverse Hack Squat Work?

When performing the reverse hack squat, you can expect to work out the following muscles:

  • Quadriceps

There are a few workouts that train or exercise your quadriceps. But only a few of these workouts are as efficient as the reverse hack squat.

The reverse hack squat strategically isolates your quadriceps will unmatched efficiency.

It trains your Vastus Lateralis muscles with the same efficiency as the Lunge and the conventional squat.

Also, this workout reduces knee pains in athletes. That is possible since it exercises Vastus medialis muscles thus reducing or eliminating knee pains.

Another set of muscles that the reverse hack squat exercises are the Vastus intermedius which is deeper than the other quadriceps muscles.

You can also work on your adductor brevis and Magnus muscles by performing this workout exercise.

  • Glutes

When looking to strengthen your glute muscles, you have two options: hip thrusters and reverse hack squats.

But our focus here is the latter- the reverse hack squat. It efficiently works out your glutes.

All you need to do is position your legs slightly backward. This action will make sure you are shifting the weights so they can act on your hamstrings and glutes.

You will be exercising your glutes without risking any back injuries!

  • Hamstrings

If you want to exercise your hamstring muscles using the reverse hack squat compound movements, place your feet slightly behind you.

This workout can assist you to train all your lower body muscles within a realistic timeframe.

  • Calves

The calves are among the muscles that you exercise using a reverse hack squat exercise. As a result, you will not only have huge calves but ones that are packed with massive power as well.

Reverse Hack Squat Alternatives

Reverse Hack Squat Alternatives

A reverse hack squat doesn’t have many alternatives to it. The front barbell squat is a great alternative! It is an ideal substitute for the reverse hack squat if you don’t have access to the machines.

Doing it is also very simple, and neophytes also can perform it. You only need to follow the steps below:

  • Step inside a squat rack.
  • Place the bar at a comfortable height and load it with manageable weight plates.
  • Get below the bar and let it be in front of you and not behind you.
  • Let the bar rest on your deltoids.
  • Bring your arms up so they’re parallel to the floor and cross them to grasp the bar.
  • Slowly but steadily lift the bar and weights of the J-hook on the squat rack and move forward.
  • Squat until your legs make an angle of 90 degrees.
  • Go back up until your knees have almost locked up straight.
  • Repeat the squats as many times as you can.

Things To Pay Attention When Performing The Reverse Hack Squat

Benefits Of Reverse Hack Squat
  • Don’t Lock Out Your Knees

You need to keep your knees safe while performing this workout movement. One way of keeping your knees safe is by stopping when they’re almost locked out.

You will be putting less stress on your knees thus averting any knee problem.

  • Avoid Bouncing The Weights

If you bounce the weights, your knees will take the abuse more than any other part of your body.

And the whole idea of performing this workout movement is to develop strong and large lower body muscles while remaining safe!

Once you have reached the lowest point in the squat position, pause for a second. Also, pause for a second once you have reached the uppermost position.

This will make sure you are not bouncing the bar and weights if you’re using the front barbell squat. Or the weights on the machine.

  • Start Lighting With Lower Weights

A reverse hack squat machine lets you train your lower body muscles with weights twice or thrice your body weight. Lifting such massive weights bring impeccable results.

But when starting your lifts, you want to warm up your muscles first by lifting lower weights. You will then work your way up until you reach your weight limit.

  • Have Steady Toes And A Straight Head

The whole idea of keeping your head straight is to avoid rounding your back. This might cause back pains. As such, keep your head straight in a neutral position.

Don’t look down! Also, you want to keep your toes steady especially during the negative phase of the reverse hack squat workout.

  • Decide How You Want To Place Your Feet

Your feet placement determines the muscles in your thighs to exercise. As such, make up your mind about the muscle you want to train before stepping on the foot platform.

Once you have made the decision, you will be ready to start the reverse hack squat workout.

Some of the feet placement include placing the feet under your chin. You can also place them behind you or keep them facing outwards. It all depends on the muscles you’re looking to exercise.


The reverse hack squat is an effective way of training your lower body muscles. It strategically isolates the muscles based on your feet placement. You are then able to individually train the muscles for the best results.

While carrying out this workout movement, remember pay attention to things that we’ve highlighted. Also, remember to use an alternative when you cannot access the machines for the reverse hack squat.

This body workout exercise lets you lift heavier loads for greater results. You don’t risk injuring your lower back despite lifting weights that are twice or thrice your weight.

This makes the reverse hack squat a safe lower body workout exercise.

If you’re a wrestler, bodybuilder or someone looking to have aesthetical leg structures, you now have the answer!

Transform your legs into massive and powerful legs using the reverse hack squat workout movements.

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