8 Best Hack Squat Alternatives for Stronger and Bigger Legs

The hack squat is a machine based squat exercise that many lifters use for lower body development, this is a great exercise to work your quads, glutes, calves and core.

Hack squats have been a favorite exercise of many people because of their quad-building effects and impact on your quads. This exercise is beginner-friendly that gives stabilization and support to the lifters to target lower body muscle growth. Additionally, the hack squat lets you take your upper body out of the equation, letting you move through an extended range of motion.  

If your local gym doesn’t have a hack squat machine, and you are wondering what you can do to achieve the same results.  However, having access to the hack squat machine isn’t always an option to build bigger and stronger legs. There are a number of other exercises you can do as a hack squat alternative when the hack squats machine isn’t available.

Read the article till the end, here we listed the 8 best hack squat alternatives, including the instructions on how to perform each exercise with the correct form to avoid injury.

Muscles Worked in The Hack Squat

The hack squat is an excellent exercise for engaging multiple muscle groups, for building muscles in the lower body.

The primary muscles worked in the hack squat are:

  • Gluteus
  • Quadriceps
  • Calves
  • Hamstrings
  • Abdominals

The hack squat makes your quadriceps and gluteus muscles work the most. However, the squat will work your entire lower body muscles.

What Are the Benefits of Hack Squats?

The hack squat machine is designed to work your lower body muscles. The hack squat machine helps the person training with the proper balance, stability and also offers support on the lower back.

The hack squat exercise that can benefit the entire core muscles, lower back muscles, entire leg muscles and glutes. It can also help you continue to build muscles and achieve your goals!

Why Do You Need Hack Squat Alternatives?

The main reason for needing a hack squat alternative is a lack of equipment. Every gym does not provide a hack squat machine, but your fitness programming includes hack squats, finding a replacement to help you to reach our goals while staying on track.

Another one reason might be you want some options for hack squat exercises. If you’re a beginner to the gym or you don’t have a trainer to help you learn how to use the hack squat machine, then don’t worry – there are lots of other options.

8 Best Hack Squat Alternatives

Here are 8 best and most effective hack squat alternatives to add to your training.

01. Barbell Front Squats

The barbell front squats are an effective alternative to hack squats. The barbell front squat exercise, the barbell is loaded anteriorly across your chest and shoulder, with your arms in a front rack position. The front squat targets more on the quad that can help you to build muscle mass and strength.

How to Perform:

  • First, load our bar into a front rack position by resting the barbell across your upper chest with your elbows held high in front of you. Use your hands to stabilize the bar, not gripping tightly.
  • Hinge your hips back and brace your core to lower into a squat, while keeping your elbows and chest high.
  •  Once you have passed parallel, drive upward, while forcing your knees out and engaging your glutes to complete the movement.

02. Barbell Back Squats

The barbell back squats is a great exercise, it also works your both lower body and upper body muscles. The barbell back squats target the quads, hamstrings, glutes and core in a powerful compound movement.

If you use a very heavier weight, that can lead to being rough and dangerous on your lower back. But if you use perfect weight with correct form can be a great hack squat alternative to challenge your lower body muscles.

How to perform:

  • First, load your barbell into a back rack position by resting the barbell across your upper back and rear delts, while keeping your elbows pointed at the floor.
  • Carefully step back and place your feet slightly outside of shoulder width. You can adjust your stance based on your mobility and your body.
  • Hing back through the hips and brace your core, while keeping your chest up.
  • When you reach parallel to the floor or a little lower, drive up through the heels to complete the movement.

03. Leg Press

The leg press is a great alternative to hack squat, because it offers a similar motion to hack squat. With the leg press exercise, you push the weight away from you and your back rests on the fixed stand. With the hack squat, you push the weight upward and feet stay on the fixed platform.

The leg press exercise, to get great results, use a hip-width stance with your feet low on the footplate.

How to Perform:

  • First, load the desired weight onto the leg press machine, and position yourself on the backrest.
  • Place your feet at shoulder with apart on the platform.
  • Extend your legs and unlock the weights.
  • Hold the position for a second, then slowly lower the weight toward you until you reach 45-degree.
  • Then extend your legs powerfully to push the weight upward without locking out your legs.

04. Barbell Hack Squat

The barbell hack squat is a great and effective alternative to hack squat, and this exercise is a quad-scorching workout that most bodybuilders love. It’s also called a reverse deadlift and it is an advanced move that will take your fair amount of strength, practice and core stability.

The barbell hack squats are done with elevated heels to increase the activation in the quads. If you’re a beginner, start with small to see how your knees feel during and after the move.

How to perform:

  • First, load the barbell with the desired weight and position the barbell on the floor behind your calves.
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, flat on the floor.
  • Slowly squat down and grab the barbell with a pronated (overhand) grip, while keeping your torso as vertical as possible.
  • Engage your lats and brace the core, slowly lift the weight up through your feet, while you stand up and extend the knees and hips completely.
  • Lower the weight back into the starting position with a slow and controlled motion.

05. Free-Weight Squats

If you don’t have equipment or working with limited equipment, there are many varieties of free-weight squats that will effectively target your quads.

Kettlebells, dumbbells and resistance bands are the must-have tools to take bodyweight squats to the next level.

How to perform:

  • First, stand straight with your feet at shoulder-width or slightly wider. You can adjust based on your body type.
  • Engage your core and hinge your hips backward, while keeping your chest up.
  • When you reach parallel to the floor or a little lower, slowly drive upward through your heels until you stand or back to the starting position.

06. Safety Bar Squats

If you have access to a safety squat bar, that will be a great alternative to hack squat. Safety bar squats may allow you to target a similar muscle group as the hack squat. Squatting with a safety bar squat is like a hybrid between front and back squats.

The safety bar may allow you to maintain more of an upright torso throughout the exercise since the bar is loaded posteriorly.

How to Perform:

  • First, load your barbell with desired weight into a back rack position by resting the barbell across your upper back traps. Make sure that your head should be between the two handles
  • Then, grip the handles gently, your hands are for stability.
  • Carefully, step back and place your feet slightly outside of shoulder width. You can adjust your stance based on your mobility and your body.
  • Hinge back through the hips and brace your core, while keeping your chest up.
  • When you reach parallel to the flow or a little lower, drive up through the heels to complete the movement.

07. Lunges

Lunges are an effective strength training exercise that targets the quadriceps and excellent hack squat alternative at home. This exercise is a versatile exercise that you can do anywhere at any time, loading weights as you see fit. You can load your lunges using dumbbells, barbells or even kettlebells.

How to perform:

  • Stand straight and place your feet hip-width apart.
  • Maintain a strong stance, vertical back and take a step forward.
  • As you step forward, drop your back knee toward the floor. your loading leg should be perpendicular to the floor, with your knee stacked over the ankle.
  • Drive up your forward leg until standing to complete the movement.
  • Do as many reps as you can.

08. Squat Jumps

Squat jumps are excellent at building size and strength of your lower body, and also great exercise to hack squat alternatives.

The squat jumps can be done weighted or unweighted, most of the trainers recommended doing with unweighted and they are easier on your joints.

How to perform:

  • Stand straight with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart in a parallel position.
  • Raise your arms straight up.
  • Push your weight onto your heels and squat down, make sure that your knees do not collapse inwardly.
  • Drive up through your heels into a jump, simultaneously moving your arms down back to the starting position.

QNA’s on Hack Squat Alternatives

  • Can I Hack Squat Instead of Squat?

    If you’re looking for huge quad gains, then a hack squat might be more beneficial. If you’re aiming to gain overall strength, then conventional squats will be more beneficial for you. Both traditional squats and hack squats are going to engage the larger muscle groups in your legs.

  • Do Hack Squats Build Leg Muscles?

    The short answer is YES. Hack squats are a go-to exercise and great exercise to build or upgrade your legs and build muscle mass.

  • Is Hack Squats the Same as Leg Press?

    Technically, hack squats are loaded on the shoulder. lifter having to squat to perform this exercise. Leg presses are loaded via a platform that you need to push away from you while laying down. But both the exercise primarily targets he quads.


The hack squats are an effective way to target your leg muscles safely. However, there are a number of strength training exercises that work as effective hack squat alternatives.

To be successful in your fitness goals, you must be able to adapt to the environment, try to add any of these exercises in your workout routine and target the lower body muscles effectively.

Hopefully, you like this article, if you have any questions and suggestions kindly put them in the comment box below. 

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