How To Perform A Barbell Hack Squat?

The barbell hack squat is one of the interesting exercises that target your lower boy muscles such as the quad, glutes, hamstrings, calves, and many others. In this article, you will learn how to do this exercise correctly. You will be given steps to follow to perform the exercise properly.

In addition to that, you will also learn how to differentiate the barbell hack squat from other variations of squats such as the reverse deadlift, back squat, and more. Furthermore, you will be spilt by many other barbells hack squat alternatives.

Barbell Hack Squat T Nation.

If you want to develop the lower body muscles, this exercise is the ideal exercise.

Barbell Hack Squat - Barbell Squat

The exercise targets the lower body muscles such as quads, glutes, hamstrings, and quads. Additionally, other muscles that benefit from this exercise are the obliques, erector spinae, rectus abdominis and others. The barbell weight strengthens your lower body muscles as you squat. To do the exercise; follow the steps below;

  1. Start by positioning the bar behind your calves on the floor and stand with your feet at shoulder-width apart.
  2. Grasp the barbell from behind with an overhand grip. Keep your hands out of your legs.
  3. Lift the barbell up until you are standing straight. Don’t forget to breathe at the top of the movement.
  4. Lower the barbell to the floor.
  5. Repeat to meet the preferable number of sets and reps.

 Barbell Hack Squat Reddit.

The Reddit community is full of different opinions on the barbell-hack squat. Some people say that they do barbell-hack squat as an alternative to machine hack squat. The lack of a machine hack squat forces them to use the barbell. In terms of alternative exercise to the barbell-hack squat, other people recommend front squat, Jefferson squat Smith machine hack squat, and others.

In addition, people say that other exercises that can be done in place of the barbell-hack squat are the goblet squat, Bulgarian split squats. They say these exercises work similar muscles as the barbell-hack squat. In addition, trainers who have done this exercise warns about knee injuries. You are advised to visit a physiotherapist if you hurt yourself while training.

 Barbell Hack Squat Muscles Worked.

Primarily, this exercise hits the quads muscles. Other muscles that benefit to a certain extent include calves, hip flexors, calves, obliques, and more. As much as the exercise targets the lower body muscles; your arm muscles get engaged as you go up and down while holding the weight. You also engage your spine and the abs to a certain extent while training.

Barbell Hack Squat Vs Front Squat.

Barbell Hack Squat - Front Squat

The two exercises are good for working the lower body muscles, but they hit these muscles differently. The hack squat has weight concentrated on your shoulders. Then the front squat shifts the weight focus to the front of the shoulders.

Note that there is a difference between using your shoulders directly from using the front of your shoulders. The placement of the bar lays a significant role. The muscles that you can work depending on the placement of the bar.

In addition, when doing the hack squat, your weight does not go further than your upper body. But when you do the front squat, you lift the weight up to your shoulders. Therefore, your knees are used to when lowering and rising doing the hack squat. This also contributes to the intensity of the exercises.

To do the front squat, follow the steps below;

  1. Choose the weight that you are comfortable with and load your barbell.
  2. Stand with your feet at shoulder-width apart and lift the barbell up to rest it on your shoulders. Make sure that you are doing an underhand grip with your hands a bit out of the shoulders. Your elbows must be pointed downwards.
  3. Then go down to a squat position with your butt going down towards the floor. Keep your chest up.
  4. Return your body up to the starting position.
  5. Repeat.

 Barbell Hack Squat Vs Deadlift.

It is difficult to differentiate between the hack squat and the reverse deadlift exercise. However, the two exercises engage muscles differently and the form is also slightly different.

As discussed above, the hack squat hits the quads muscles more than any other muscles. On the other hand, the reverse deadlift is ideal for posterior muscles. Posterior muscles include the back, hamstring, glutes, calves, lats, and many others. In addition, the reverse deadlift put more pressure on the heels when bringing up the barbell. Then with the hack squat, you elevate your heels to put more pressure on your quads. Follow the steps below to do the reverse deadlift;

  1. Start by loading the barbell with the weight that you are comfortable with.
  2. Then place it behind your calves. Make sure that your feet are at shoulder-width apart.
  3. Bend your knees until you can grab the bar from your behind. Grasp the bar with an underhand grip, and keep your palms facing away from your body.
  4. Rise up and keep your feet planted on the ground. Rise up until your body is fully straight.
  5. Lower the weight to the ground and repeat as much as you can.

Barbell Hack Squat Vs Back Squat.

Barbell Hack Squat - Back Squat

The two exercises are good for working similar muscles such as the quads, glutes, hamstring, core, and calves.However, the two workouts in these muscles different. For instance, the back squat allows you to use heavyweight than the hack squat. As such, it means that the back squat puts more pressure on your muscles.

Therefore, the back squat is likely to build your muscle mass more than the hack squat. To do the back squat; follow the steps below;

  1. Start by placing the barbell on the squat rack and load it with weight.
  2. Then bring your upper body under the bar and unrack the bar to rest on your shoulders.
  3. Step back from the rack
  4. Keep your feet planted on the floor at a bit wider than the shoulder-width apart.
  5. Engage your core and lower your body to a squat position.
  6. Return your body to the starting position.
  7. Repeat the moves.

Hack Squat Machine.

Instead of using the barbell to do the hack squat, you can also use the hack squat machine to do the exercise. The hack squat machine targets the quads. In addition to that, it also works the glutes, hamstrings, and calves. To do the exercise, follow the steps below;

  1. Start by loading the machine with a weight that you can work with comfortable.
  2. Position your torso against the back pad of the machine and place the shoulders under the pads provided by the machine.
  3. Place your feet at shoulder-width apart on the foot platform.
  4. Place your hands on the side handles of the machine and release the safety handles.
  5. Then straighten your legs but avoid locking your knees.
  6. Bend your knees to lower the weight until your thighs and legs form a 90-degree angle.
  7. Return to the starting position by reversing the moves until your legs are fully stretched.
  8. Repeat to meet the desired number of sets and reps.

 Barbell Hack Squat Alternative.

There are various exercises that you try to target the same muscles that get worked by this exercise. If you cannot do this exercise due to various reasons, you can do traditional squats, lunges, front squat, back squat, free weight squats, sissy squats, and many others. To do these exercises, follow the steps below;

Traditional Squats.

Barbell Hack Squat - Traditional Squats

The traditional squats are well known for working your lower body muscles such as the glutes, quads, hip muscles and leg muscles. As such, it can be a good alternative. Interestingly, you don’t need weight or any gym equipment to do the traditional squats. Follow the steps below to do the exercises;

  1. Stand on your feet at shoulder-width apart or a bit wider than that and keep your chest up.
  2. Then extend your hands in front of you or cross thenm behind your head to balance yourself.
  3. Lower your body into a squat position and keep your spine neutral. Lower your body as far as you can.
  4. Then return your body up to the starting position.
  5. Repeat as much as you can.


This is another exercise that does not need any gym equipment. The lunge exercise also hits the glutes, quads, and leg muscles. However, you can spice up the exercises by holding the weight with your hands.  Follow the steps below for the exercise.

  1. Stand with your feet at hip-width apart distance.
  2. Use your one foot to step forward and let the back foot stay behind. Plant the knee of the back foot on the ground.
  3. Then bring the front foot upright.
  4. Repeat the moves.
Barbell Hack Squat - Lunges workout

Final Thoughts

The barbell hack squat ideally hit the quads muscles. It is one of the best exercises that target your lower body muscles such as the hip muscles, leg muscles, glutes, and many others. However, it is important to do the exercises correctly to target those muscles fairly.

The exercise slaps harder than the machine hack squat. It challenges the muscles more than the machine hack squat. As such, if you don’t have the machine, you can use the barbell to strengthen and grow your lower body muscles.

However, both exercises are good at developing your quads and glutes. Other exercises that you can try to include traditional squats, back squat, front squat, and many others.

Which exercises work your quads and glutes perfectly. Share your experiences below.

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