Did you know that you can complete hack squats without a hack squat machine? Before weight machines were widespread in gyms everywhere, bodybuilders and weightlifters utilized barbells and other equipment to get the job done.
If you’re looking to fire up your quads on leg day, look no further than the barbell hack squat. This move will help you not only bulk up your quads but also sculpt and define them. Grab your barbell and get moving because it’s time to get in on this popular exercise so you can see all the hype for yourself.
A barbell hack squat is essentially a deadlift, but instead of holding the weight in front of you, you keep it behind you. Barbell hack squats fire up both the front and back of your legs. It’ll just take a few reps for you to see why weightlifters have been using this exercise to sculpt their quads for over a century.
Let’s break down how to complete barbell hack squats effectively. Before your start, don’t forget to warm up your legs and grab a pre-workout drink, such as our AMPED-AF supplement for focus. The only equipment that you need for your barbell hack squat is a barbell.
As with other heavy-lifting moves, keeping good form from the beginning to the end of your hack squats is essential. Regardless of how much weight you are lifting for your squats, check with these tips to maintain good form and protect yourself from injury.
Good form during your hack squat looks like:
If these traditional hack squats sound too challenging, too easy, or are just not your speed, check out these effective variations that you can complete instead.
If these hack squats are just too challenging, don’t be discouraged! These modifications will still pack quite a punch, and you can work your way up to the traditional barbell hack squats that we have been discussing here.
The barbell hack squat is a compound exercise that targets many muscles at once. To get the most of your strength workouts, add our Ultimate Mass Stack to your routine to build muscle faster.
The primary muscles that barbell hack squats target is your quadriceps, the teardrop-shaped muscle on the front of your thighs. In addition to the muscles in your quads, barbell hack squats will activate your glutes as you drive your hips upward and other muscles in the backs of your legs.
You will also hit other nearby muscles to stabilize your body as you complete this leg exercise. Your calves, adductors, and hamstrings are lower body stabilizers as you squat, while your core muscles will activate to stabilize your upper body. This stabilization will move into your abs, obliques, and upper and lower back muscles, specifically the traps and erector spinae.
There are many benefits of incorporating the barbell hack squat into your workout routine.
Barbells are a classic piece of weightlifting equipment that have stood the test of time for a reason. We want to take a minute here to talk about why they are so great and why you should consider choosing a barbell over other types of equipment in your gym.
You can use a barbell for compound or isolation exercises, making them a highly versatile piece of equipment. For more compound exercises like the barbell hack squat, check out our article on compound barbell exercises to get you ripped. You can also use them to target many different muscle groups, from your upper body, to your lower body, to your core. Whatever muscles you are looking to build out, chances are you can hit them with a barbell.
One of the most apparent benefits of a barbell is that you can easily adjust the weight to perfection by adding and removing weight. The ability to change up the weight allows you to use a barbell for more of your workout than, say, a kettlebell or set of dumbbells. You can even utilize the bar without any weight if you need to modify down or recover from an injury.
Studies show that barbells can be more effective than dumbbells, kettlebells, and other free-weight equipment.A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that using a barbell for your deadlifts was “clearly superior” to deadlifts that used other equipment. Just another reason to add a barbell to your home gym if you haven’t done so already.
Before we send you off to get working on your barbell hack squats, we will take a minute to address some of the questions we most frequently hear about this popular exercise.
Hack squats require you to lift with the weight behind you, so you want to reduce the weight you would typically grab for a traditional squat or deadlift. Our recommendation is to start with low weight and then increase the weight as you feel appropriate.
The barbell hack squat requires increased balance, coordination, and stabilization, so we consider it an intermediate lift. This difficulty level is another reason to consider starting with a lower weight, especially if you are a beginner weightlifter.
Barbell hack squats will fit easily into your leg day routine because they hit so many muscles in your legs and build lower body strength. They primarily target your quads, so use them in a set to focus on the fronts of your legs or alternate them with a move that targets other areas of your legs.Barbell hack squats are a strength exercise, so try to get them in before you get into any cardio for the day.
A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that you can lift heavier and longer if you complete your strength training before your cardio, instead of the other way around. Ideally, it is best to separate cardio and strength workouts into two different days, but this is not always possible.
If you don’t have access to a barbell or want to incorporate other exercises that work the same muscles, try some of our favorite alternatives:
Barbell hack squats are a suitable replacement for deadlifts for lifters with lower back pain or other back issues. Unlike a traditional deadlift, the weight placement behind your body will allow you to work the same muscles without putting pressure on the spine or risking lower back injury.While this is a good option for people working with lower back issues, it is worth noting that the deadlift will not isolate the quads and the barbell hack squat.
These squats are named after their creator, George HACKenschmidt. The bodybuilder wrestler invented the hack squat and the bench press at the turn of the 20th century, and they have only grown in popularity since then.
Now that you’re an expert on barbell hack squats, it’s time to hit the gym and fire up those quads. Add traditional or a variation of barbell hack squats into your leg day workout routine to get sculpted quads in no time.