Reverse Hack Squat: How to Perform, Benefits & Expert Tips 

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The reverse hack squat is a tremendous exercise for overall quad and leg growth, and it also happens to be one of the safest squat variations out there.  

However, without proper guidance, it can also be a little tricky to get right.  

In this article, we will take a look at how to perform the reverse hack squat, the benefits that come from performing the reverse hack squat, and some expert tips to help you get the most out of this exercise. 

What Is the Reverse Hack Squat? 

The reverse hack squat is a strength-training exercise that targets the lower body, specifically the quadriceps and glutes.  

It is performed using a specially designed machine where you position yourself facing the machine and push the weight up and back using your legs. 

What Muscles Does The Reverse Hack Squat Train? 

Quadriceps  

This exercise places significant emphasis on the quadriceps muscles located in the front of the thigh. The reverse hack squat effectively engages the quads, helping to build strength and size in this muscle group. 

 Glutes 

Along with the quadriceps, the reverse hack squat also activates the gluteal muscles. These muscles, including the gluteus maximus and medius, play a crucial role in lower body power and stability.  

By incorporating reverse hack squats into your routine, you can effectively target and strengthen your glutes. 

How To Properly Perform The Reverse Hack Squat 

  1. Start by positioning yourself on the reverse hack squat machine with your back against the pad and your feet on the platform. 
  1. Adjust the foot placement to a position that feels comfortable for you, with your feet approximately shoulder-width apart. 
  1. Ensure your feet are flat on the platform and your knees are slightly bent. 
  1. Grasp the handles or sides of the machine for stability and support. 
  1. Slowly lower your body by bending at the knees and hips, keeping your back against the pad and maintaining a controlled motion. 
  1. Continue lowering until your thighs are parallel to the platform or lower, maintaining proper form and avoiding excessive forward leaning. 
  1. Push through your heels to extend your legs and return to the starting position, maintaining control throughout the movement. 

Reverse Hack Squat Benefits 

It’s Gentle on Your Lower Back  

Unlike traditional squats, the reverse hack squat provides support for your lower back through the machine’s design. This makes it a suitable exercise for individuals with lower back issues or those who prefer a lower impact alternative. 

 The Plane is Controlled  

The reverse hack squat machine guides your movement along a fixed path, reducing the risk of improper form or deviation from the desired range of motion.  

This controlled plane of motion can help you focus on the targeted muscles and minimize joint stress. 

 It’s a Complete Thigh Exercise 

Reverse hack squats engage the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, making it a comprehensive lower body exercise. By incorporating this exercise into your routine, you can effectively develop and strengthen your thigh muscles. 

Compound Strength Movement – Builds Mass & Power 

Reverse hack squats are a compound exercise that targets multiple muscle groups simultaneously. This compound movement helps build overall lower body strength, power, and muscle mass. 

Reverse Hack Squat vs Hack Squat 

The reverse hack squat differs from the traditional hack squat in terms of body positioning and movement.  

In the reverse hack squat, you face the machine and push the weight up and back, whereas in the traditional hack squat, you face away from the machine and push the weight up and forward.  

Both variations target the lower body muscles but with slight differences in emphasis.  

Experimenting with both exercises can help you determine which variation feels most effective for your training goals and preferences. 

The Best Reverse Hack Squat Alternatives & Variations 

Front Barbell Squat – Best Substitute to the Reverse Hack Squat  

The front barbell squat is an excellent alternative to the reverse hack squat. This variation requires you to hold a barbell in front of your body, resting it on your front shoulders, and perform squats with proper form.  

The front barbell squat engages the quadriceps, glutes, and core muscles, making it a functional and effective alternative to the reverse hack squat. 

How To Do The Front Barbell Squat 

  1. Begin by positioning a barbell across the front of your shoulders, resting it on your front deltoids. 
  1. Hold the barbell with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and your elbows pointing forward. 
  1. Position your feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider, with your toes pointing slightly outward. 
  1. Lower your body by bending at the knees and hips, keeping your chest lifted and your back straight. 
  1. Descend until your thighs are parallel to the ground or lower, ensuring proper form and maintaining control. 
  1. Push through your heels to extend your legs and return to the starting position, keeping your core engaged and maintaining stability throughout the movement. 

How To Program The Reverse Hack Squat 

The programming of the reverse hack squat depends on your individual fitness goals, training level, and overall workout routine.  

However, a general guideline is to perform 3-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions with a weight that challenges you while maintaining proper form. Adjust the weight and repetitions based on your strength and progress over time.  

It’s essential to incorporate the exercise into a well-rounded lower body training program for balanced muscle development. 

Pro Tips 

Wear Shoes 

Always wear proper athletic shoes with good support and stability while performing the reverse hack squat to ensure safety and proper foot placement. 

Decide on the Feet Placement 

Experiment with different foot placements to find the position that feels most comfortable and effective for you. Adjusting the width and angle of your feet can target different muscle groups. 

Start with a Low Weight 

Begin with a weight that allows you to maintain proper form and gradually increase the load as you gain strength and confidence. 

Never Lock Out Your Legs 

Avoid fully extending or locking out your knees at the top of the movement to maintain tension on the muscles and reduce stress on the joints. 

DO NOT Bounce the Weight 

Maintain a controlled and smooth motion throughout the exercise, avoiding any bouncing or jerking movements that can increase the risk of injury. 

Keep Your Head Straight and Toes Steady 

Maintain a neutral head position, looking straight ahead, and keep your toes stable and flat on the platform throughout the movement. 

Bottom Line 

The reverse hack squat is a beneficial exercise for targeting the quadriceps and glutes while providing support for the lower back.  

It offers controlled motion, complete thigh development, and compound strength-building benefits.  

Consider incorporating reverse hack squats into your lower body training routine to enhance muscle strength, power, and overall lower body aesthetics. 

Reverse Hack Squat – FAQs 


What Do Reverse Hack Squats Work? 

Somewhat surprisingly, the hack squat vs reverse hack squat muscles worked are virtually the same.  

Reverse hack squats target the glutes and quads, just like the regular hack squat. 

What Is The Difference Between A Hack Squat And A Reverse Hack Squat? 

The difference between a hack squat and a reverse hack squat is that a hack squat is performed facing away from the machine, while a reverse hack squat is performed facing the machine.  

Is Reverse Hack Squat Good For Quads? 

Yes, the reverse hack squat is good for quads. 

Hack squats stimulate a ton of lower-body hypertrophy, possessing the ability to develop your quads and glutes rather substantially.  

Are Hack Squats As Good As Squats? 

Yes, hack squats are as good as squats. 

Both hack squats and squats are great for building lower body muscle size and strength. 

However, hack squats do not hit your stabiliser muscles like traditional squats do, so they are not as effective at building functional strength.  

We hope this article will be of use to you! 

The reverse hack squat is an incredible exercise, and if you decide to include it in your routine, you will not regret it. 

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