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The hack squat is an effective exercise for increasing muscle mass and strength in the lower legs and hips. It is a compound, or multi-joint, movement involving the hips and knees. The hack squat can be performed using a variety of equipment, including barbells and machines. If you are a beginner, make sure to use lighter weights until you are comfortable doing the movement. This is strongly recommended so you avoid serious injury to your back, hips, or knees.
Barbell Hack Squat
The barbell hack squat is similar to the traditional barbell squat, except you hold the barbell behind your hips during the movement, as opposed to resting the barbell on your upper back. Then, when you flex your hips and knees, you bring the barbell under your thighs. This variation of the squat primarily targets the quadriceps of the front thighs, the gluteus maximus of the hips, and the adductor magnus posterior head of the inner thighs. The adductor magnus anterior head is also worked to a small degree. Furthermore, since you are gripping the barbell with your hands, you also target the forearm muscles, including the wrist flexors and wrist extensors. Since you are maintaining a straight wrist position, the forearm muscles are targeted isometrically.
Machine Wide-Stance Hack Squat
This exercise is a slight variation of the regular hack squat, and is a safer alternative, especially for beginners. By using a wide-stance, wider than shoulder-width apart, you recruit more of the inner thighs. So, you involve more of the adductor magnus anterior and posterior heads. The other muscles worked in the hack squat, which are the quadriceps and gluteus maximus, are also worked while performing this variation of the movement.
Machine Close-Stance Hack Squat
The machine close-stance hack squat is another variation of the regular hack squat. Similar to the previous exercise, the use of a machine provides you with a safer movement. However, unlike the previous movement, you use less of the adductor magnus, especially the anterior head, when you utilize a close-stance, closer than shoulder-width apart.
Machine Lying Hack Squat
This movement is yet another safe variation of the hack squat. The lying down position makes you use less of the gluteus maximus and adductor magnus posterior head. Also, when you utilize a shoulder-width apart stance, you use minimal adductor magnus anterior head. Therefore, the only muscle worked to a large degree is the quadriceps.