Hacking the Hack Squat

DeShawn Fairbairn

NASM Certified Personal Trainer

Brooklyn, New York, United States

Personal Training, Fencing, Karate


Now say that three times fast! Welcome back everyone to another episode of Breaking Down Your Workout Library. Thanks to the team at Breaking Muscle, I’ve been guided to produce another breakdown of one of my favorite exercises.


The hack squat was originated in Germany and derives from the word hacke (heel). So, as one can imagine, the starting position for the hack squat is the heel. The barbell variation is little known to many however while its machine counterpart is well known. Today for Breaking Muscle I’m going to be breaking down the hack squat. Get ready, it’s going to burn!



The Barbell Hack Squat

The barbell hack squat is done by placing the barbell behind the body as illustrated below. The goal is to keep the spine neutral, engage the glutes, and refrain from rounded shoulders. It is best to utilize an overhand grip for a traditional hack squat.


Keep in mind that one may need to squeeze the scapulae on lockout. In contrast, the supinated grip places the shoulder in external rotation which proves safer positioning for those with limited shoulder mobility. A plate placed under the heels may be used for those with limited ankle mobility.




The Machine Hack Squat

For the machine hack squat, take two seconds to descend and from a half to a full second to ascend. This movement is done with a normal stance slightly wider than shoulder-width to accommodate this particular machine.


Photo demo of the machine hack squat.


Now we move onto the close stance hack squat as we are placing the legs slightly narrower than shoulder-width apart. Note that persons with hip issues will not find this variation as fulfilling and should opt for a close stance leg press if back issues are nonexistent.


Supersetting with weighted lunges is a suitable alternative, and Bulgarian split squats are even more worthwhile because they double as a stretch for the quadriceps muscle and hip flexors.


Remember to live with love my friends! Thank you to Absolute Power Fitness NYC for allowing me to use their space for this session.

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