How To Do A Barbell Hack Squat – Benefits, Proper Form, And Tips

  • By: gymtrix
  • Date: June 18, 2023
  • Time to read: 16 min.
How To Do A Barbell Hack Squat

The barbell hack squat is an effective and efficient exercise for those looking to build muscle in their legs.

It puts the body into a deep knee bend position while loading the movement with extra weight – making it an ideal choice for building serious strength and power.

By performing this move regularly, you can expect to see increases in both size and muscular endurance.

Furthermore, thanks to its low impact nature the hack squat is great for people of any fitness level who want to add some lower body diversity to their routine without putting too much pressure on their joints.

In this blog post, we’ll provide you with a detailed breakdown of how to do a correct barbell hack squat as well as offer up some helpful pointers along the way so that you can maximize your results!

Muscles worked in Barbell Hack Squat

To work on specific muscle groups, the Barbell Hack Squat is an excellent exercise to add to your workout routine. If you’re wondering what muscle groups it targets, look no further. In this section on muscles worked, you’ll discover how the Barbell Hack Squat focuses on four key areas: quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and lower back.


The Barbell Hack Squat focuses on the quadriceps. This is the largest muscle group in the front of your thigh. It’s responsible for straightening your leg and helps you with activities like jumping, running and squatting. When you lower your body during a Barbell Hack Squat, the quadriceps contract to slow you down and give you a push back up.

The quadriceps are divided into four muscles. The Barbell Hack Squat works all four of these muscles. With correct form, it helps build a strong lower body and improve balance and stability.

It’s important to keep the quadriceps strong to prevent injuries from activities like running or jumping. A study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine showed that weak quads can cause knee pain and increase the risk of getting knee osteoarthritis. So, it’s necessary to train this muscle group regularly.


Barbell Hack Squats tone and strengthen the muscles in your backside, making them one of the most effective exercises. These large muscles play a part in everyday activities such as running, walking, climbing stairs, and jumping. Plus, working on your glutes during the Hack Squat can prevent lower back pain.

Moreover, this squat variation gives overall leg muscle strength. Your quads and hamstrings must work hard to keep balance and stability. Also, using heavier weights can boost explosive power in your lower body.

Before you start squatting, activate your glutes for better control. Do warm-up sets with lighter weights for proper activation.

Pro Tip: Keep your chest upright and knees in line with toes. This maximizes results for your glutes while avoiding injuries.


The Barbell Hack Squat is all about the quads. But your Hamstrings, which run down the back of your leg, are also important. They keep the weight steady and in control. This high-tension exercise is great for growing your lower body.

Your Hamstrings work when you squat. They help keep your knees in line and help grow your muscles. Plus, they help with movements like running.

Fun fact: A 2016 study in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine said adding exercises like barbell hack squats to your routine can make your Hamstrings stronger. It can also boost your performance in sports.

Lower Back

The Barbell Hack Squat is an awesome lower body workout. It works your quads, hamstrings and glutes. Plus, your lower back muscles get a serious challenge!

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Hold the barbell behind your legs.
  2. Then, lower your torso while keeping your back straight.
  3. It’s important to use proper form to avoid injury, so start light & keep your core engaged.
  4. As you get better, increase the weight with good form.

Fun fact: this exercise was made popular by Olympic weightlifter George Hackenschmidt in the early 1900s.

Benefits of Barbell Hack Squat

To reap the full rewards of barbell hack squats, you need to dive into their numerous benefits. By challenging yourself with this exercise, you’ll see improvements in your leg strength, muscle mass, body posture, and athletic performance. Let’s explore each of these sub-sections to understand how barbell hack squats can enhance your overall fitness.

Improves Leg strength

The Barbell Hack Squat is an intense exercise. It targets your lower body muscles, especially your legs. This exercise engages your glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings. This means you can increase your leg strength in one go.

You will feel an increase in leg power and endurance after performing this exercise correctly. Additionally, it will improve your agility and balance. You will also be able to lift heavier weights easily.

Barbell Hack Squat maximizes muscle activation throughout the movement. This leads to excellent muscle growth and development. Also, it puts less strain on your lower back than other compound movements, like deadlifts.

The famous bodybuilder George Hackenschmidt first introduced the Barbell Hack Squat. He performed this exercise with a bar behind his legs. This was to create strong thighs and glutes. Over time, this technique has transformed into the popular hack squat we know today.

Increases Muscle Mass

The barbell hack squat can be a great way to build muscle mass. It targets multiple muscle groups at once, making it a valuable exercise for any workout routine.

  • This type of squat helps to activate the quadriceps muscles, strengthening them and leading to increased muscle mass.
  • It also works the hamstrings, calves, and glutes.
  • Improve balance and stability by engaging your core during each repetition.
  • Weight can be adjusted to fit any fitness level.
  • Increased bone density over time, reducing risk factors for age-related conditions like osteoporosis.

Benefits can extend to everyday life activities such as walking and lifting. Athletes find that an increase in leg muscle anatomy improves dynamism and explosiveness in competitive sports.

Barbell hack squats can be beneficial whatever your level. Improve strength or tone up legs with this addition to your regular exercises.

Improves Overall body posture

Barbell hack squat is commonly overlooked for its fantastic ability to improve body posture. Not only does it build lower body strength, but it also helps realign the spine and pelvis. Here’re three key ways hack squat benefits posture:

  1. Engages Core Muscles: During the exercise, the core muscles – abs, obliques, and lower back – work together to keep the spine upright. This prevents slouching or hunching.
  2. Develops Hip Flexibility: Tight hips can lead to an anterior pelvic tilt, which leads to poor posture. Hack squat works the glutes and hamstrings, loosening the hip flexors and reducing the risk of anterior pelvic tilt.
  3. Enhances Shoulder Alignment: Proper shoulder alignment is essential for good posture. Hack squat strengthens the shoulder girdle muscles like trapezius and deltoids, allowing the shoulders to be more aligned with the spine.

Hack squat provides more than just strength; it improves physical well-being by supporting body alignment. Plus, it boosts balance and stability when standing and walking, according to PubMed.

Enhances Athletic Performance

Barbell hack squat is a great exercise! It targets the quads, glutes, and hamstrings. These muscles are important for sports activities. It also strengthens your core and lower back. This helps with stability, balance, and posture. It increases explosive power by making your legs stronger and improving your vertical jump.

The exercise engages multiple muscle groups at once. This reduces muscle imbalances. It puts less stress on your lower back than other squats. And it can be adjusted for different fitness levels.

This exercise mimics real-life movements. It helps with strength and mobility. This translates to better performance in sports.

Tests of machines from Titan Fitness and Rogue Fitness showed they could handle weights up to 225 pounds.

Barbell hack squat is great for athletic performance. It helps build strong muscles and reduce injury risks. It can even help you lead a healthier lifestyle.

How To Do A Barbell Hack Squat: A Step-by-Step Guide

This guide will walk you through the proper technique for performing a barbell hack squat.

Equipment Needed:

  1. Barbell (with or without weight plates, depending on your fitness level)

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Set up the barbell: Place the barbell on the ground behind your legs with the desired weight plates secured by collars. Ensure there is enough space around you to perform the exercise safely.
  2. Position yourself: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider, with your toes pointing straight ahead or slightly turned out. The barbell should be resting horizontally behind your legs, aligned with your heels.
  3. Grip the barbell: Bend at your hips and knees to lower your body, then grasp the barbell with an overhand grip (palms facing your body). Your hands should be shoulder-width apart, and your arms should be fully extended.
  4. Engage your core: Before beginning the squat, engage your core by tightening your abdominal muscles. This will help maintain stability throughout the movement and protect your lower back.
  5. Lift the barbell: Straighten your legs and hips to lift the barbell off the ground, ensuring that your back remains straight and your chest stays lifted. This is your starting position.
  6. Lower your body: Begin the squat by pushing your hips back and bending your knees, allowing the barbell to slide down the backs of your legs. Keep your chest up and your gaze forward as you descend.
  7. Reach parallel position: Continue lowering your body until your thighs are parallel to the ground or as low as your flexibility allows. Your hips should slightly dip below your knees at the bottom of the squat, if possible.
  8. Pause briefly: At the bottom of the squat, pause briefly while maintaining engagement in your leg and core muscles.
  9. Rise back up: Push through your heels and straighten your legs to return to the starting position, lifting the barbell up the backs of your legs. Keep your chest up and your core engaged throughout the ascent.
  10. Repeat: Perform the desired number of repetitions, maintaining proper form throughout the exercise.

Proper Form and Technique of Barbell Hack Squat

To perfect your form and technique when performing Barbell Hack Squat, with a focus on using the correct equipment, this section provides you with step-by-step instructions on how to perform the exercise effectively. Additionally, the sub-sections, including the common mistakes to avoid, are also provided to help you make sure you perform the exercise safely and get the most out of it.

Equipment required

Before you start a Barbell Hack Squat, make sure you have the right equipment. This includes:

  • A 6-feet or 7-feet barbell with weight plates on each end.
  • A power rack to load and unload the weights safely.
  • Enough weight plates based on your strength and resistance capacity.

You may also want to get lifting straps, wrist wraps, and shoes with a higher heel for added firmness.

Remember that the right equipment is essential for executing a Barbell Hack Squat. So double-check that you have everything you need before starting your workout! Have fun!

Steps to Perform Barbell Hack Squat

Doing the barbell hack squat is key for increasing strength in your quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Follow these 3 easy steps:

  1. Stand behind a loaded barbell, feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Grab the barbell from below with both hands, using an overhand grip.
  3. Slowly lower the barbell to the ground by bending at the knees, keeping your back straight.

Maintaining the right form and technique is vital. Also, keep your core tight and control the movement.

This exercise was first introduced by German weightlifter Georg Hackenschmidt in the early 1900s. He was renowned for his skill in creating innovative lifting techniques like this one.

Common mistakes to avoid

If you’re into gymming, you may have tried barbell hack squats for your lower body. To do the exercise right, you need to avoid some mistakes.

  1. First, don’t bend forward excessively – keep your chest up and shoulders back.
  2. Don’t hold the barbell too wide or too close; it can cause neck and wrist pain.
  3. Don’t lean back while lifting the barbell; it strains the back muscles.
  4. Incorrect foot placement causes knee pain – keep your feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointing out at 10-15 degrees.

Now, a few tips often overlooked by beginners.

  • Position the barbell behind you before squatting down.
  • Keep your thighs parallel with the ground before rowing up.
  • Start light on weights till you get comfortable with the form and movement without compromising safety.
  • Always engage your core muscles during each rep for maximum benefits.

Tips to Perform Barbell Hack Squat

To perfect your barbell hack squat game, follow these tips that guide you with the right stance, posture and control of the barbell. Warming up before exercise is crucial. The right posture and stance can give better results. Controlling the barbell avoids common mistakes.

Warm-Up before Exercise

Getting muscles ready before exercising is important. For successful warm-up, let’s look at tips.

  1. Begin with 5-10 minutes of light cardio. This can be jogging, jumping jacks or cycling. Blood flow increases and heart rate rises.
  2. Dynamic stretching is good. It involves moving through stretches instead of holding them. Examples – leg swings or arm circles.
  3. Mobility exercises, such as lunges or squats, help prepare muscles for the upcoming workout.
  4. Warm-up sets can be done if a certain exercise uses particular muscle groups more than others.
  5. Be aware of your body’s response during warm-ups and adjust accordingly. If something feels off or painful, stop and switch to a different exercise.

Everyone’s bodies differ so adjust warm-ups for better results. Temperature of environment also plays a role. If it’s colder, spend more time warming up.

I heard of an athlete who skipped warm-ups due to being late for practice. Sadly, he sustained an injury during training and had to miss games. Don’t make the same error – care for your body before any workout!

Maintain the right stance and posture

Maintain your posture for perfect barbell hack squats! Stand straight with feet shoulder width apart.

  • Balance the weight by keeping chest out and eyes facing forward.
  • Grip the barbell close to your body.
  • Bend knees slightly while staying upright, then descend until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
  • Rise up by extending legs until you’re standing again.

Always ensure your spine is neutral, not arched or rounded. Don’t put too much weight on yourself; use lightweights for quality results and proper form. Improving posture is key for avoiding injury. Follow these tips and increase weights gradually over time once you have balance control.

Control the Barbell

When doing a hack squat, controlling the barbell is key to a successful workout. Here’s how:

  1. Get into position: Stand behind the barbell with your feet apart.
  2. Grip the barbell: Reach down and hold it with an overhand grip. Make sure your hands are far enough apart so they won’t hit your knees when you lift.
  3. Lift the barbell: Stand up straight and raise it off the ground with your arms outstretched. This is the starting position.
  4. Keep it close: As you lower yourself into the squat, stay close to your body. This avoids back strain.
  5. Lift with your legs: Use your leg muscles to push yourself back up. Keep control of the weight.
  6. Lower with control: As you lower yourself again, keep control of the weight. Lower at a slow and steady pace.

Remember to breathe correctly. Exhale when you lift the barbell and inhale when you lower yourself. By controlling the barbell and following these tips, you can do a safe and effective hack squat. It targets various muscle groups in your legs and core.

Common Mistakes in Barbell Hack Squat

To avoid common mistakes in barbell hack squat, adjust your stance and posture, avoid using too much weight too quickly, keep your back straight, and ensure proper foot placement. These sub-sections will help you understand the nuances of each mistake so you can avoid them during your workout.

Poor Stance and Posture

When doing barbell hack squats, stance and posture are key. Place feet shoulder-width apart, toes out slightly. Make sure knees, hips and ankles are aligned. Keep shoulders down and back, core engaged.

Don’t hunch over the barbell – it can cause back pain.

Foot placement is important too. Don’t be too far forward or back – it can lead to instability and injury. Feet should be firmly planted on the ground, weight even.

George Hackenschmidt popularised hack squats in the 1900s. It’s still used in strength and conditioning programs as it works quads, hamstrings and glutes. Do it with proper form to gain the full benefits!

Using too much weight too quickly

Too much weight too soon in barbell hack squat is a common mistake. It can cause incorrect form and potential injuries that can stop your progress.

Here are five tips to prevent this:

  • Increase the weight over time. Make sure you have the correct form and technique first.
  • Pay attention to your posture and foot positioning while doing the squat. Keep shoulder-width apart, it helps you balance.
  • Don’t rush. Quality is more important than quantity.
  • Do 6-8 reps per set instead of adding too much weight at once.
  • If you find it difficult, use an ankle strap or resistance band for support.

Using too much weight than you can handle can cause muscle tearing or spinal injury. As a beginner, start slowly and increase as you build strength.

A beginner once went to a 30kg hacking squats machine without warming up. He got leg cramp and couldn’t walk properly for three days. It’s better to take it slow and build muscles naturally, to avoid such long-term damage.

Rounding the Back

Performing the Barbell Hack Squat? Beware! The most common mistake weightlifters make is rounding their back. This compromises safety and effectiveness.

3 steps to prevent it:

  1. Position yourself: feet hip-width apart, standing tall. Chest up, shoulders back, core engaged.
  2. Grip the barbell: overhand grip, hands behind hips. Palms facing backward.
  3. Squat down: keep your back straight, until thighs are parallel to ground. Don’t round your back throughout the exercise.

Leaning forward or letting heels lift off the ground overloads spine muscle groups. This can lead to fatigue and injury.

For better performance, combine correct posture with proper breathing.

Improper Foot Placement

Place your feet shoulder-width apart and keep your toes pointing straight. Grab the bar with an overhand grip, then stand up straight with chest out and shoulders back. Slowly lower yourself down, keeping your back flat, until your thighs are parallel to the floor.

Remember, wrong foot placement can cause knee pain or even hurt hips and lower back muscles.

To avoid this, make sure you follow the steps right when doing Barbell Hack Squats. If you don’t place feet correctly, you’ll miss out on potential gains and lower fitness levels. Don’t risk all your effort by not using the right form – do it right now for lasting results.

Variations of Barbell Hack Squat

To add more variety and challenge to your barbell hack squats, you can explore different variations. In order to do this, you can try different types of squats with different equipment and weight distribution. Front barbell hack squat, Zercher hack squat, dumbbell hack squat, and Smith machine hack squat are some of your options.

Front Barbell Hack Squat

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Grab the barbell from behind your legs with an overhand gripExtend your knees and hips to lift it off the ground. Lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Pause for a moment keeping your back straight. Then, return to the starting position. Repeat for desired reps and sets.

Make sure you use proper form to prevent injuries. Also, keep your back straight as leaning forward may strain your lower back.

Front Barbell Hack Squatactivates both your quadriceps and glutes simultaneously. You can vary the weight of the barbell according to your strength level and adjust the width of your stance to target different areas. This has been proven by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

Zercher Hack Squat

Barbell Hack Squats are great for the lower body. But, the Zercher Hack Squat variation takes it up a notch! It targets muscles in the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and core. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a barbell in the crooks of your elbows.
  2. Bend your knees and lift the bar. Lower yourself into a squatting position.
  3. Hold it for a few seconds. Then, press down through your heels to return to the starting position.

This variation is great because it puts less stress on the lower back than other squats. Make sure to keep your core tight and maintain good posture for optimal results. Don’t miss out on these incredible benefits! Add Zercher Hack Squats to your routine for increased strength and muscular endurance. Don’t be afraid – give it a try today!

Dumbbell Hack Squat

Dumbbell Hack Squat is an awesome full-body exercise. Here’s a 5-step guide to get you started:

  1. Stand upright, feet shoulder-width apart. Hold dumbbells behind your legs.
  2. Bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
  3. Keep back straight and core engaged throughout.
  4. Push through heels and squeeze glutes at the top.
  5. Repeat desired reps.

Vary it up by using different dumbbells. Hexagonal or adjustable ones work great.

Make sure to maintain proper form and watch your technique in a mirror or ask a buddy to help.

For extra challenge, add weight plates or resistance bands around your hips. This increases resistance, giving you a harder workout.

Dumbbell Hack Squat is great for strengthening quads, hamstrings, and glutes. It also has minimal impact on joints.

Smith Machine Hack Squat

The Smith Machine Hack Squat is a great exercise for the lower body. It’s stable and controllable. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Start with the barbell on the floor behind you. Stand in front of the Smith Machine, feet shoulder-width apart and facing forwards. The bar should touch your legs.
  2. Grab the bar with an overhand grip, hands wider than shoulder-width apart.
  3. Lift the bar off the ground by extending your hips and knees.
  4. Bend your knees until you reach a 90-degree angle or lower.
  5. Push up to the starting position with your heels.

Remember to use proper form and technique to avoid injury. Start with lighter weights before progressing to heavier loads.

The Smith Machine Hack Squat can also be adjusted to target different muscle groups. For example, putting weight on your heels will target the glutes, while putting weight on your toes will work the quads.

I struggled with my quads until I started changing up my foot placement during Smith Machine Hack Squats. It really made a difference in my overall leg strength.

How To Do Air Squats

Previous Post

How To Do Air Squats – Benefits, Proper Form, And Tips

Next Post

How To Do Barbell Lunges – Benefits, Proper Form, And Tips

How To Do Barbell Lunges