The reverse hack squat works similar muscles as the regular hack squat, but the angle of your body is biomechanically different, resulting in more benefits for athletes and powerlifters.
The reverse hack squat is an excellent leg exercise for building lower body strength and power, but the wrong reverse hack squat form and poor programming can lead to injuries and bad performance outcomes.
Based on my experience as a certified personal trainer and 37-hour research, I compiled all the information you need to perform them safely and boost your athletic performance.
After reading the article, you will also learn the benefits of the reverse hack squat and its most useful variations.
- The reverse hack squat is an athletic exercise performed on the hack squat machine to build strong and powerful lower body muscles such as quads, hams, and glutes.
- To perform reverse hack squats correctly, you should assume a standing feet shoulder width apart stance and keep your spine straight (in the physiological position) during the whole exercise.
- The best reverse hack squat variation is the barbell hack squat, but you should also consider adding the leg press and reverse hack squat on good mornings to build strong anterior and posterior chain muscles.
The Best Reverse Hack Squat Alternatives & Variations
To build strong lower body muscles, you must incorporate the principle of progressive overload .
Progressive overload means increasing the weight you lift or sets, reps, and total training volume for each following workout.
This has also been proven to be the best for developing superior hypertrophy gains over time .
However, you shouldn’t forget to include proper rest intervals, periods, and enough recovery time between each workout so you don’t enter the overtraining stadium .
Here are the best hack squat variations and alternatives you should consider adding to your workout plan.
"Unlike the back squat, the hack squat allows you to squat with a barbell without putting load on your spine. If you’ve got back issues, it will let you target your quads and legs without demanding quite so much from your upper body. "
- Jesse Zucker, Certified Personal Trainer
Barbell Hack Squat
The barbell hack squat is an excellent variation that will hit anterior and posterior chain muscles.
It combines squatting and deadlift patterns and will effectively build muscles such as quads, hams, and glutes.
How to Perform a Barbell Hack Squat
- Place the barbell on the floor and load it with sufficient weight to perform at least 6 to 8 reps without resting.
- Step over the barbell and assume a standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Bend towards the floor and take a pronated grip with both your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Ensure your back is straight during the whole movement.
- Start the exercise by pulling the loaded barbell upwards by initiating the triple extension - extend ankles, knees, and hips simultaneously.
- When you reach the top position with your body straight, hold that position for a split second.
- Reverse the motion to return the barbell to the starting position on the floor.
- Repeat for 6 to 8 reps, 4 sets, and rest for 3 minutes between each set.
Related: Best Barbells For Your Home Gym
Machine Hack Squat
The regular machine hack squat is also useful for developing strong lower body muscles.
However, it is less functional than other variations on the list due to its lying position on the back.
How to Perform a Machine Hack Squat
- Load the hack squat machine with the appropriate weight to perform at least 8 consecutive reps without a pause.
- Lie on the machine and assume a regular starting position for performing hack squats with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Start the exercise by lowering your body towards the floor by bending your hips, knees, and ankles.
- When you reach the bottom squat position (thighs parallel to the ground), reverse the motion to return to the starting position.
- Repeat for 8 reps, 4 sets, and rest for 2-3 minutes between the sets.
Reverse Hack Squat Good Morning
Reverse hack squat good mornings is a tough posterior chain exercise that will bulletproof your hamstrings.
How to Perform Reverse Hack Squat Good Mornings
- Load the hack squat machine with appropriate weight to perform at least 6 good mornings without resting.
- Enter the squat machine and place your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Ensure your back is flat during the whole movement and your knees remain slightly flexed.
- Start the exercise by bending forward with your torso and driving your butt toward the ceiling.
- When your torso becomes close to parallel to the ground, reverse the motion to return to the starting position.
- Repeat for 6 reps, 3 sets, and rest for 2 minutes between each set.
What Is the Reverse Hack Squat?
The reverse hack squat is the lower body exercise following the squatting movement pattern performed on the hack squat machine in an athletic stance.
It is an excellent hack squat variation, biomechanically different and better for athletes and those participating in running and jumping sports.
The reverse hack squat can easily be programmed into your lower body workouts to increase your leg strength and power.
Due to their unique biomechanical position and weight placement, you are imitating the running and jumping movements.
This greatly translates to the field and builds powerful glute and quad regions.
What Muscles Does the Reverse Hack Squat Train?
The reverse squats trains lower body muscles such as gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, gluteus maximus, quadriceps femoris, and hamstring complex.
Additional hip flexors, adductors, and core muscles will help perform the movement more efficiently and with enhanced stabilization.
How to Properly Perform the Reverse Hack Squat
Here is how to properly perform the reverse hack squat:
- Load the hack squat machine with the appropriate weight to perform at least 8 consecutive reps without pausing.
- Enter the reverse hack squat position and assume a standing feet-shoulder width apart stance.
- Ensure your back is flat during the whole movement and core muscles are engaged for enhanced balance and stability.
- Start the exercise by lowering your body towards the floor by bending your hips, knees, and ankles.
- Hold that position for one second when your thighs reach the parallel position with the floor.
- Reverse the motion to return to the starting position.
- Repeat for 8 reps, 4 sets, and rest between 2 and 5 minutes between each set.
Also Read: Best Hack Squat Alternatives
Reverse Hack Squat Benefits
Here are the most notable reverse squat benefits.
Less Stress on Your Back
Reverse hack squats are excellent for placing less stress on your lumbar spine.
The starting position of the reverse hack squats will lower the stress on your entire back, which is completely opposite from the regular barbell back squats.
You will produce the most force from your glutes, hams, and quadriceps and lower the activity of your erector spinae, a long muscle located on both sides of your entire spine.
Allows More Volume
The reverse hack squat workout can achieve greater volume since less stress is placed on your back, and the machine provides sufficient stability for other stabilizer muscles to work less.
You can easily perform more than 4 sets of reverse hack squat exercises without experiencing any side effects or entering the possible zone of injury.
Also, you can do more reps in a single set, but this will primarily depend on your goal. You should do up to 5 reps for building strength, and for power, no more than 3.
Lastly, anything between 6 and 12 reps is excellent for developing hypertrophy if the rest intervals don’t exceed 90 seconds.
Can Be Used for Both Strength and Hypertrophy
You can use reverse hack squats to build both strength and muscle mass.
For strength, stay in the rep range of 1-5 reps, a set range of 4-10, and rest intervals between 2-5 minutes.
For hypertrophy, you should rest no more than 90 seconds, perform between 6 and 12 reps, and do at least 4 sets.
In addition, the reverse hack squat will also develop strong core musculature necessary for stability during the squatting movement .
Remember that 48 hours is recommended for recovery between two sessions of exercising the same muscle group.
"The back squat, often performed on a machine, is another leg pressing movement to add hypertrophy to the quadriceps and even glutes. This can be beneficial to lifters who may lack size and/or muscle mass necessary for long-term strength development (via front and back squat)."
- Mike Dewar, Certified Personal Trainer
Great for Training With Injuries
Hack squats can also serve as an alternative exercise for those suffering from lower back, knee, and hip injuries.
However, I strongly recommend taking advice from a certified personal trainer and following his instructions regarding form and programming if you train while injured.
Perfect for Those With Shoulder Mobility Problems
If you experience external shoulder rotation issues, you may perform regular hack squats or the reverse variation to still experience benefits from lower body training.
The hack squat is not a demanding exercise for shoulder rotations, so you may feel free to load the machine with significant weight without worrying about getting your rotator cuff injured.
However, consider speaking with a professional, such as a certified personal trainer, before reverse squatting on your own while experiencing shoulder issues.
Trains All of Your Lower Body
Reverse hack squats will efficiently build all lower body muscles.
The muscles used during the reverse hack squat include the quadriceps, adductors, hamstrings, glutes, and more.
Additional calf muscles and smaller lower body muscles will work as synergists or stabilizers during the squatting movement.
Are Reverse Squats Effective?
Yes, reverse squats are effective. Reverse hack squats are an excellent hack squat variation useful for athletes and running sports due to their unique biomechanical position and placement of body weight.
Is Reverse Hack Squat Safe?
Yes, a reverse hack squat is safe. The reverse hack squat machine allows for a safe squat position and is excellent for developing leg muscles such as the quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and hip flexors.
Is Reverse Hack Squat Good for Glutes?
Yes, the reverse hack squat is good for the glutes. The reverse squat is one of the best lower body exercises, along with the traditional hack squat and barbell squat, for building strong and powerful glute muscles.
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