The reverse hack squat is one of the best quad-dominant squat variations out there. An exercise that is easy to learn and safe to perform. Yet few gym-goers know about it. This article will teach you how to perform it, and help you to discover the benefits of doing so.
What is A Reverse Hack Squat?
The reverse hack squat is a variation of the squat that is performed with your body facing towards a hack machine. It is an effective lower body exercise that involves all the major leg muscles.
It is important to understand the difference between a machine hack squat and a traditional hack squat. The original hack squat is a barbell exercise that is best described as a reverse deadlift. This exercise was developed in Germany (then Prussia) as an exercise for soldiers to develop their lower-body strength. Hacke, is the German word for “heel”.
The movement was later popularised by Estonian 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.
Despite its immense popularity among wrestlers and bodybuilders, it was an extremely difficult move to perform. There is no reverse hack squat possible with a barbell, it would end up being a traditional deadlift.
The hack squat machine is a relatively new addition to the gym, but a welcome one. While it is possible to perform hack squats using a Smith machine, the dedicated hack squat machine is by far the best option.
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. Some of the newer hack squat machines have been designed with the reverse hack squat in mind, making it a lot more comfortable to perform.
How To Do A Reverse Hack Squat: Step by Step
The reverse hack squat has multiple variations. Below is instructions on how to perform it using the hack squat machine.
- Load the Hack 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 The Reverse Hack Squat
There are many benefits to learning how to perform a reverse hack squat. Here are some of them:
- Reduces stress on the lower back
- The movement plane is controlled allowing you to lift more weight
- An excellent alternative to front squats as it is easy to learn and requires less coordination
- 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.