As if leg days were not bad enough, your trainer told you to do something called the reverse hack squat. Well, you might be cursing him under your breath but your trainer definitely knows his stuff if he recommended this workout. Don’t be one of those people- you know, the ones who miss leg day. If you have been in the fitness game long enough, you probably know that building your lower-body muscles is extremely important. And one of the most effective exercises to help you achieve those desired strong and muscular legs is the reverse hack squat.
What is Reverse Hack Squat?
The reverse hack squat is named after Russian bodybuilder and wrestler George Hackenschmidt. He performed a variation of the exercise meant as a compound leg movement that isolates the quads, which in turn reduces the engagement of the hamstrings, the gluteus maximus, erector spinae muscle group, trapezius, and posterior deltoids together called the posterior chain. The traditional way to perform reverse hack squats is by using barbells placed at arm’s length behind the body and feet positioned at shoulder width. This workout is more like a deadlift but with the load behind you.
Despite its immense popularity among wrestlers and bodybuilders, it was an extremely difficult move to perform. But by using the Smith machine or the reverse squat machine to carry the workout, even neophytes can now perform this exercise in a much more controlled plane.
The reverse hack squat performed today is a modified version of that exercise, where you are facing the weights and instead of your back, the chest is placed against the pads. Over the years, it has turned into a very effective workout that involves all major leg muscles.
How to do Reverse Hack Squat: Step by Step
The reverse hack squat has multiple variations. In this article, we will tell you how to perform it using the hack squat machine.
- Load the squat machine with the weight you are comfortable with.
- Position yourself on the footpads of the squat machine. Make sure your feet are shoulder-width apart, facing outwards.
- Grasp the side handles. Place your shoulders under the pads and make sure your chest is flush against the front pads.
- Push towards the top to detach weight off the rack.
- Squat down until your legs are parallel to the ground and stay at that position for one count.
- Push back upwards to raise the weight and stop right before your knees are locked out.
- Go back to your squat position and repeat as many times as desired.
- If you do not have the ankle mobility necessary to finish the workout, you can keep your heels raised throughout the workout. Elevating heels reduces the need to bend your ankle drastically during the squat. It also greatly develops the shin and reduces the strain that is placed on it; letting you stay upright in a straight position.
You can reposition your feet to target multiple muscles of the legs.
When the feet are placed close together with toes jutting outwards, the outer side of the quads are more engaged and required to do most of the work. On the other hand, if you point your toes further out, the focus is more on the inner thighs.
Benefits of Reverse Hack Squats
- This wonderful workout has many benefits other than just isolating muscles.
- It’s gentle on your lower back
- The plane is controlled
- It’s a complete thigh exercise
- Compound Strength Movement – Builds Mass & Power
With the reverse hack squat, you will be targeting all major leg muscles. But the primary focus will be the quads and glutes.
There are hundreds of workouts that you can perform to specifically target your quads. But none of them can isolate them like the reverse hack squat. It helps you engage the Vastus Lateralis with the efficiency of the lunge and traditional squat.
Other than that, it also helps to target the adductor brevis, Magnus and Vastus Medialis, which are positioned near the inner thigh. One of the primary cause of knee pain in athleres is a weak Vastus medialis. On top of that, it also targets the Vastus intermedius, which is the muscle most deeply positioned among the three.
The first exercise that comes to mind when you think glutes is hip thrusters. But guess what, the reverse hack squat is an equally efficient workout for your glutes and for gaining that much desired bubble butt.
All you need to do is place your legs a little further behind than what is normal. This will change the weight and focus on your hamstrings and glutes rather than your quads. As you will be moving in a controlled and fixed plane, your lower back will be quite safe!
- Make sure you warm up with other leg exercises before doing the reverse hack squat. Do not start this workout without warming up.
- Never lock your knees straight at the upright position of the movement.
- Do not use heavy weights from the start. Understand your body and gradually build the weight.
If you want to really work your lower body but give your upper body a rest at the same time, then reverse hack squat is the way to go. It is a bit difficult to grasp the workout in the beginning, but you will soon get the hang of it. You will be able to carry out the workout comfortably in no time.
Make sure you nail your form before deciding to increase your weights. Many lifters make the mistake of completely ruining their form while lifting heavy weight. Good form with less weight is far more effective and safe than heavy weights but horrible posture. Master this leg workout and enjoy your sweet leg gains.