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July 26, 2022 6 min read
Your quads are an important part of your body and are one of the biggest muscles on it. This muscle group helps you walk, run, jump, and squat, so keeping them strong can help you function better not only in the gym but even when you’re just walking down the street.
Squats are notorious for building your lower body strength, but also for building muscle in your quads, glutes, and hamstrings. There are plenty of squat variations to keep your leg day interesting, but they’re also there to help emphasize areas of the body.
The hack squat is one of the variations and can help target the quadriceps more than the traditional squat.
That doesn’t go to say that the traditional back squat can’t give you bigger, better quads, but the hack squat can focus more on the quads without them being too overshadowed by the hamstrings and glutes.
There are machines specifically designed for hack squats because a typical barbell and squat rack setup won’t allow for this exercise, but a Smith Machine is an ideal option since it provides the balance and stability needed.
The hack squat is a compound exercise that can help build lower body strength and mass, but because of the positioning, it can put a lot more emphasis on different parts of your legs.
The muscles on the front of your thigh that may pop out when you flex are your quadriceps. They are made up of four parts, each of which contribute to extending the knee and flexing the thigh at the hip.
These are the main actions in a squat, so it’s no surprise that this exercise is used to strengthen this muscle group.
During the hack squat, much of the emphasis is put on the quads.
Although not directly targeted, the hamstrings are recruited in the hack squat during the eccentric contraction as a stabilizer and help to extend your hips during the concentric contraction.
Another muscle group that isn’t directly targeted are the glutes because they help to extend the hip. The glutes are the biggest muscle on your body, and keeping them strong is important for walking, running, hip stability, and lower back support.
Even though you may not realize it, your calves can play an important role in the hack squat. The first reason being they help stabilize your body and the weight during the lowest part of the squat.
The second being they’re responsible for ankle flexion, so if your calves are tight,you might have a harder time getting full squat depth.
Ultimate quad activation is just one of the benefits of the hack squat, but it comes with much more than that.
Isolation exercises can help build the leg muscles, making it a great option for bodybuilding.
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With the Smith Machine, the hack squat is stabilized and forces you to sit back in your hips and into your heels.
This can help strengthen your squat form and the muscles needed for a heavier squat.
If the hamstrings are stronger than the quads, it can put you at a higher risk of an injury and limit your performance.
Since the foot placement of the hack squat emphasizes the quads, it can help correct anterior and posterior imbalances.
It can also help teach beginners the proper form and mechanics of the squat, so it can prepare them for free weight squats.
Using a Smith Machine can assist you in the movement, but it doesn’t mean you can leave the form to the machine. The hack squat exercise still requires attention to your form for safety and effectiveness.
This is a quad exercise where foot placement is key, and when done correctly, it can mean a bigger and stronger lower body.
How to Do the Smith Machine Hack Squat:
Not all gyms have Smith Machines, or you may want to try a hack squat in your home gym, so there are alternatives to this leg exercise that can emphasize the quads and get your lower body burning.
Although it may require more balance and shoulder mobility, you can do the hack squat with just a barbell instead of a machine. It’s similar to the movement of the deadlift, but the way you hold the bar helps put more emphasis on the quads.
How to Do the Barbell Hack Squat:
The split squat is an exercise that you can do with the Smith Machine, dumbbells, or bodyweight, so no matter where you are, you can work your lower body. Depending on the position of your body, you can emphasize the hamstring, glutes, or quads more.
How to do the Split Squat:
Despite the name, the sissy squat is a challenging quad exercise that is an advanced squat variation. It almost completely isolates the quadriceps and can be done with a Smith Machine or other secure and supportive device.
How to Do the Smith Machine Sissy Squat:
Every lifter seems to be looking for the next quickest way to reach their goals, and though there may not be a hack to get jacked overnight, the hack squat can help you build bigger and stronger quadriceps for better squats and overall function.
Understanding the “why’s” of an exercise can help you better shape your workout routine and can help reduce your risk of imbalances.
You might be used to doing back squats and deadlifts on leg day, but making time for exercises like the hack squat that help emphasize certain areas of the body more can help you become a stronger, more powerful lifter.