So, you’re looking to take your leg days to the next level by incorporating exercises that place great emphasis on the quadriceps. Or maybe your lower back or hips can’t take the stress of back squats because of injury, surgery, or just wear and tear. Or constraining yourself to barbell squats has become a bit dull. Whatever the reason, you’ve found yourself in need of a good hack squat machine.
The hack squat is a phenomenal exercise for developing size, strength, and power in the quadriceps (and glutes to a lesser extent). And, while hack squats can be performed with a barbell, the machine variation is more common and effective. But how do you find the best hack squat machine for your needs? What do you need to know and look for?
That’s where we come in.
In this article we take a look at the 5 best hack squat machines that will help you create some crazy big, strong quads.
We’ve also included some info at the end of the article on whether a hack squat machine is right for you and how to choose the product that best meets your needs. We finish off with answers to some frequently asked questions about hack squat machines and the hack squat as an exercise.
The Best Hack Squat Machines
The Bodycraft F660 Leg Press/Hip Sled offers the total package for a hack squat machine. The shoulder pads can be adjusted to fit even the tallest of users and the footplate can be altered to your desired angle. This allows you to modify the extent to which your hack squat puts pressure on your spine and hips.
This machine uses linear bearings rather than plastic wheels. This guarantees durability and efficiency in your workout, ensuring that you’ll have a fluid motion whenever you’re squatting or leg pressing.
The frame of the Bodycraft F660 Leg Press/Hip Sled is surprisingly compact, making it perfect for home workout enthusiasts who are looking for a high-quality hack squat machine. But don’t let the size fool you: It has a weight capacity of 1,000 lbs.
The Bodycraft F660 Leg Press/Hip Sled is, in our view, the best hack squat machine currently available and will help you build mass and strength on your lower body.
- Adjustable shoulder pads that accommodate users of varying heights.
- Linear bearings provide a smooth glide with each workout.
- Relatively compact frame that can handle even the heaviest of loads safely.
- Shorter people may not be able to perform deep hack squats because of how high the shoulder pads are.
Body-Solid’s Leg Press / Hack Squat Machine combo allows you to transition quickly from one workout to another with just a flip of the foot platform. The diamond plate foot platforms (one on top for leg presses, one at the base for hack squats) ensure a sturdy workout and are wide enough to accommodate different foot positions that emphasize either your quads or glutes.
You can comfortably work out your lower body thanks to its Quad Track roller system that glides smoothly and distributes the weight evenly as you load up the plates.
A unique aspect of the Body-Solid GLPH1100 Leg Press/Hack Squat Machine is that it provides three lockout positions that allow you to safely push heavier weights without putting excess stress on your joints and bones.
Like the Bodycraft machine above, the weight capacity is up to 1,000 lbs., meaning this machine is built for most people to be able to grow into. The GLPH1100 Leg Press / Hack Squat Machine arguably delivers the best value of any hack squat machine currently on the market.
- Heavy gauge diamond plate foot platforms provide a secure foot grip.
- Quad Track roller system feels smooth as butter when doing leg presses and hack squats.
- Adjustable lockout positions that provide safety for your joints.
- Paint can tend to chip/peel off the frame relatively easily.
Titan Fitness’ hack squat machine is another one that’s combined with a leg press, and is one of the more affordable machines out there. The frame is built sturdy, and while the rated capacity of 875 lbs. is less than our top options, it’s still high enough that the vast majority of people will never max it out.
While it lacks the polish of most high-end hack squat machines, it will certainly get the job done, especially for beginner weightlifters / bodybuilders.
One neat feature of Titan’s leg Press Hack Squat Machine is that it has two posts on the back for convenient weight storage. The roller wheels do a good job of keeping the movement smooth and the footplates are wide enough to accommodate a variety of foot positions.
If you’re looking for a hack squat machine that won’t break the bank, then this machine is an option worth considering.
- Affordable for a hack squat machine.
- Two posts for storing Olympic plates.
- Simple and straightforward to operate.
- Not suitable for advanced users who can or will push extremely heavy stacks.
- Pads are on the thinner side which can impact your comfort.
The TDS 4-way Hip Sled is a workhorse hack squat machine that’s built to withstand heavy usage. The design is similar to what you’ll find on most average-priced hack squat machines and allows you to perform hack squats and leg presses without any issues. The pads are nice and thick and the roller wheels move fluidly. The foot platform is a diamond-plate which helps prevent slippage and keeps your form in check while performing squats.
This machine is rated for up to 1,000 lbs. and comes with two plate holders for easy storage. Despite its utilitarian build, it will certainly provide a great leg workout. If you’re particularly safety-conscious, you can rest assured that it does have lockouts so you can bail out if you hit failure mid-rep.
While it doesn’t offer all the bells and whistles, the TDS 4-way Hip Sled is a pretty straightforward hack squat machine that will suit most beginner weightlifters just fine.
- Sturdy, robust design.
- Thick, contoured pads for increased comfort.
- Diamond plate foot platform.
- Foot rest not wide enough when doing leg presses.
Force USA’s Monster Leg Press / Hack Squat Combo is unarguably a premium hack squat machine due to its array of features and superb build quality.
On offer here is a machine that has an adjustable calf block, 4 weight storage posts, an adjustable safety catch, and 4 band pegs for added resistance. When using the machine, you should find the padding to be nice and comfortable, even when pushing really heavy stacks. The back angle can be adjusted quickly and easily, and its hover system sees it glide smoothly with each rep.
The adjustable racking positions that can comfortably accommodate even the tallest users and allow them to reach a deep squat is a nice touch. Everything about the machine screams premium; from the powder-coated finish to the oversized footplate. If you’re looking for a hack squat machine that combines both form and function, then the Force USA Monster Ultimate 45 Degree Leg Press/Hack Squat Combo is the machine for you.
- Premium build and finish.
- Packs a ton of features for a hack squat machine.
- Comes with band pegs for a tougher leg workout.
- Foot platforms have less texture, which means you must ensure you have a secure foot grip before beginning a set.
- Premium build means premium price.
Should You Get a Hack Squat Machine?
Since you’ve continued this far into the article, we’re going to assume you’re serious about developing size and strength in your legs, and seriously considering a hack squat machine. And, why wouldn’t you be?
Developing leg muscles should be a priority for all people who want to live a highly functional and healthy life. Building muscle and strength in the lower body has been shown to improve our ability to carry out normal daily activities, as well as have significant benefits for our overall health.
Increasing the size and strength of your leg muscles is best achieved through a range of exercises. The hack squat is one such exercise and a particularly effective one at that.
In fact, the squat and all its variations are phenomenally good for working various leg muscles to varying degrees. The hack squat is the variation that emphasizes the quadriceps most strongly.
But, a good hack squat machine is typically going to run you over $1000, so you’ll want to avoid making a hasty, poorly-considered decision.
There are many good reasons to invest in a hack squat machine – here are the best from our point of view:
You’re truly serious about weight lifting / bodybuilding
Hack squat machines are relatively serious pieces of equipment, which as we just mentioned aren’t cheap. The machine’s back support removes the need for stabilization of the weight, which places all of the emphasis and effort of the lift on the quadriceps and glutes. This means that the spine and hips are removed as limiting factors, and increases the potential weight to be lifted.
Indeed, one of the main advantages of hack squats over barbell squats and other free weight exercises is the overloading potential. You can place large stacks of plates on a hack squat machine and recruit more muscle fibers in the quads and glutes, thus stimulating more gains.
However, this is of most value to people who are dedicated to weight lifting or bodybuilding. Why would you invest a huge sum of money into a piece of equipment if you’re unsure of the commitment you will make to using it?
An affordable leg press machine is a better option if you’re likely to use it infrequently or fall out of love with it after a time.
Your hips or back need something gentler
Machine hack squats are frequently included in rehabilitation programs for people looking to regain strength in their lower body following injury to, or surgery on, the spine or hips. As noted above, the back support of the hack squat machine bears most / all of the weight, and you simply have to worry about pushing the weight, and controlling the concentric and eccentric contraction.
Choosing the Right Hack Squat Machine
In order to maximise your quad gains, you need to select a hack squat machine that works best for you. Here are some factors worth considering:
When looking for a hack squat machine, look at how much adjustability the equipment offers. Some hack squat machines feature adjustable shoulder pads that can comfortably accommodate even the tallest of users. Others can’t be adjusted much, or at all. Choose a machine that can be sufficiently altered to fit your body properly, and therefore allow you to work out as safely and as effectively as possible.
Fit and finish
Hack squat machines are designed for heavy lifting and it’s crucial to select one that’s built to last. Read the reviews from others who have purchased or used the machine to make sure it doesn’t wobble excessively when loaded with heavy weights. The coating should also be resistant to chips to prevent rusting and the roller wheels or other relevant mechanisms should allow the rack to glide easily without a hint of creaking.
Not all hack squat machines have the same weight capacity, and this should certainly be taken into consideration as well.
The weight capacity will determine how safely you can load up the plates, and how much room for growth you have. As mentioned, hack squats remove the need for stabilization of the weight, which allows you to lift more than you could with, say, a back squat. That means that you can actually push a lot of weight on a hack squat machine. If you’re already pushing heavy stacks, or you’re planning to really get to your lifting ceiling, then you’re going to need a lot of room for growth. In this instance, a hack squat machine with a weight capacity of 1,000 lbs. or more is recommended.
How comfortable you are when performing the exercises should also be a factor in your buying decision. There is a limit to this, however: Strenuous exercise is inherently uncomfortable. It shouldn’t be painful though. The pads on any exercise machine should be thick enough and provide sufficient cushion to prevent any kind of pressing pain in the back and shoulders, and minimise discomfort when performing hack squats and leg presses (if relevant).
Frequently Asked Questions About Hack Squat Machines
What muscles do the hack squats work?
The hack squat targets two main muscle groups; The quads and glutes. Many bodybuilders utilise the hack squat machine in their workouts to develop well-proportioned legs. With appropriate additional equipment, like a calf block, a hack squat machine can also be used to train your calves.
Are hack squat machines better than regular leg presses?
Hack squats are relatively similar to the leg press, with both exercises intended to stabilize the weight for the user, thus allowing more intense emphasis to be placed on various leg muscles. Both hack squats and leg presses place great emphasis on the quadriceps, with the slight advantage going to the hack squat (leg presses work the glutes and hamstrings to a greater extent).
One major difference between the two exercises is the relative stress that is placed on the lower back due to the positioning of the body relative to the weight. Leg presses often put greater pressure on the lumbar spine due to the back being the anchor point (pressed against the machine’s base). For this reason, hack squats are a more appropriate exercise for those with lower back injury or weakness.
Neither machine, however, is necessarily better than the other. Each is a training tool and has its own place in a weight lifting routine.
As you can see from our top recommendations, many hack squat machines are combined with leg presses, so you can usually have both tools at your disposal.
Are hack squats as good as regular squats?
The barbell squat is hailed as the king of exercises because it activates more muscles than any other exercise, thus being an effective near-total body workout. Hack squats on the other hand, place an exclusive emphasis on the lower body by taking everything but the quads and glutes out of the equation.
It all depends on what your goals are. Ideally, you should be incorporating a range of exercises into your routine to build a killer set of quads. We’re massive proponents of the back squat. We also realize that they are not possible for all people. Whether hack squats are a good supplemental or alternative exercise should be a well-thought out decision on part, that takes your goals and limitations into account.
Are hack squats bad for your knees?
As with any exercise, hack squats are entirely safe as long as you observe proper form. Hack squats are relatively easier on your joints because the machine stabilizes the weight for you. As this is a non-weight bearing exercise, the stress around the knee joint is reduced.
- The Best Hack Squat Machines
- 1. Bodycraft F660 Leg Press/Hip Sled
- 2. Body-Solid GLPH1100 Leg Press/Hack Squat Machine
- 3. Titan Fitness Leg Press Hack Squat Machine
- 4. TDS 4-Way Hip Sled
- 5. Force USA Compact Leg Press Machine
- Should You Get a Hack Squat Machine?
- Choosing the Right Hack Squat Machine
- Frequently Asked Questions About Hack Squat Machines