Ahh, the majestic squat. Just where would we all be without it?
Undoubtedly, the best way to rack up some solid thighs and a nice butt - the squat also clocks in as the number one way to destroy your back and knees in the long term.
And with that, many fitness fans start to ponder, isn't there an easier way? You know, a way to...hack the squat?
Well, dear reader, unless you've been living under a rock for the last few years, you're probably already jumping up and down with joy at the fact that there is indeed such a way.
Yup, I'm talking about the very aptly named hack squat machine!
These stellar pieces of fitness machinery help take off some of the pressure on your joints and spine. And the cool bit lies in the fact that they do so while allowing you to get even more benefits out of the awesome exercise you already love.
However, while hack squat machines are definitely pretty darn amazing - trying to pick one out for your home gym can quickly turn into a total nightmare. With hundreds of options and a whole myriad of brands making crazy promises, doing your own research becomes quite a time-consuming and outright confusing endeavor.
But thankfully, you've got me playing for your team!
Today, I'll be sharing all of my research, experience, and learning from picking out my own hack squat machine to help you find the perfect option that'll suit you and your fitness needs like a glove.
Below, I'll give you a briefer on these machines, present you with the best options on the market in today's day and age, give you the low down on each machine on my top list, and finally provide you with answers to some of the most burning questions people have about these nifty contraptions.
Let's dive right in!
Why Are Hack Squat Machines So Popular - Benefits Explained
First and foremost, before we go look at the best options for the year - let's take a second to get a tad more familiar with the hack squat machine.
Below, I'll be talking about where they came from, some of their awesome benefits, and why they're so outrageously popular in today's world of fitness.
Perfect Exercise For Building A Bubble Butt & Toned Legs
The hack squat and its variations such as the reverse hack are an absolutely fantastic way to tone your legs and exercise your glutes for a firmer and more shapely butt.
This is due to the fact that the hack squat absolutely smashes your leg muscles with compound movements that are hyper-effective at helping you build up strength and definition.
And the best part? It's way safer, and even somewhat easier to do than the vanilla squat or it's weight-assisted counterparts. Add to safety that any kind of exercise increases metabolism and you have a great safe exercise that can help you tone your lower body and lose weight.
The Best Machines Come As A Combo - Leg Press, Hack Squat, Calf Exercise
At the end of the day, most machines help you hone in on one group of muscles, and get some pin-point targeted exercise in.
However, it's no secret that the most effective and cost-efficient fitness equipment allows you to exercise several muscle groups, in some cases even all at once.
This is even more important for those of us in a home gym setting as we don't have a whole lot of room to play with in order to set up a myriad of different machines one per muscle group.
Thankfully, the hack squat machine does a stellar job here. These machines help you target several muscle groups including your legs, core, and even your back and shoulders.
Safer Than Regular Squats
As I just touched on a second ago - hack squats are actually a fair bit safer than normal squats.
Some of the key risks associated with squats are spinal injuries, torn muscles, and damaged knees. This is all because squats, unlike most exercises, are super dependent on proper form. You need measure your fitness level before attempting doing regular squats, otherwise you can be injured.
While with most exercises, you've got a little leeway here and there - doing squats improperly will have you run aground with a serious injury in no time.
On the other hand, hack squat machines actually remove the whole form and balance bit from the equation for the most part. These machines guide you into the proper form and reduce the amount of stress on your knees, muscles, and ligaments.
Best Hack Squat Machines For Home & Commercial Use
Now that we're a little more up to speed on the benefits that the hack squat machine offers - let's talk about the best and only machines that are worth your money in 2020.
I've done countless hours of research, and I've even gone out to do a hands-on test of the first 3 on my list all in order to help you find the best machine that offers the most bang for your buck.
While most hack squat machines are way overpriced and underdeliver on their promises, below I've featured the only 7 machines that are worth your time and money in today's day and age.
Keep reading to get the low-down on each model, learn about their best features, and get a feel for whether or not it's a good fit for you and your fitness needs.
1. Force USA Leg Press & Hack Squat Combo Machine
Editors Choice, Best Bang for Buck Option & The One I Own
Force USA Leg Press & Hack Squat Combo Machine Review
If you want the best, and only the best - the Force USA Monster 45-degree hack squat and leg press combo unit is an absolute menace.
Whether you're gearing out your commercial space or getting your home gym rolling, this is one of the best hack squat machines that money can buy, period.
What I Like
Reasonable footprint of 66 inches wide by 94 inches long, and 60 inches tall, making this machine a good fit for just about any space.
Accommodates a wide variety of sizes and shapes, with a maximum user height of 7 feet.
You can do four exercises on this beast of a machine.
Features a spotter arm, allowing you to exercise solo in total safety.
Maximum weight load of up to 1,000 pounds.
The unit is pretty costly on its own and doesn't come with any weight plates.
You have to re-gear the machine in order to switch between exercises which can be a bit of a hassle.
While the footprint is pretty decent, it's not compact by any means, so no, apartment-dwellers, this one's probably not for you.
The unit weighs close to 500-lbs, so you'll need flooring strong enough to support it.
Top Notch Quality, Highly Rated, AffordableHack squat machines pretty much have you locked in position throughout the majority of your exercise. And since they basically enforce a proper form - you run next to no risk of knee injury. However, it's important to keep in mind that you should be moving your hips and knees in sync at all times, as otherwise, you could definitely cause some damage.
BodyCraft F660 Linear Bearing Hip Sled Review
If you're looking for impeccable quality, top-notch efficiency, and an absolute beast of a machine, without quite breaking the bank - the BodyCraft F660 is definitely an option to keep on your radar.
This machine is built to withstand just about any sort of exercise you can throw at it while offering a totally stellar range of exercises and it even comes backed by a lifetime warranty. What's not to love?
What I Like
11-gauge steel frame and plating for maximum durability.
Plenty of comfort with well-padded seating and support arms.
Lots of adjust-abilities to help you achieve the perfect fit.
Features a spotter arm to help you reduce the risk of injury.
A relatively small footprint of 39 inches wide, 79 inches long, and 50 inches high.
Lifetime warranty to make sure your investment is well-protected.
This machine isn't exactly well geared for anyone shorter than 5"8, though you can sort of get around this by putting a block of wood on the footholds.
The way this machine is designed, you get more quad activation than glute burn doing incline hacks.
Most Popular Option
BodySolid GLPH1100 Leg Press & Hack Squat Station Review
As one of the most popular all-in-one leg workout stations on the market in today's day and age - it's no surprise that the GLPH1100 found its way onto my top list. And for good reason too!
You've got 3 exercises, flawless industrial quality, plenty of comfort features, and ergonomic bits and bobs, all backed by a lifetime warranty from a leading brand.
What I Like
Rugged and reliable 11-gauge steel build all around.
Quickly switch between exercises using their phenomenal flip and lock system.
Very well-balanced frame and quad-roller setup to help distribute the weight for better and safer exercise.
Lifetime warranty on every single part you see in the machine.
Pretty obfuscated assembly instructions, so putting this machine together can be a bit of a quest.
4. Titan Fitness Hack Squat & Leg Press Machine
Cheapest High-Quality Option
Titan Fitness Hack Squat & Leg Press Machine Review
It's no secret that Titan Fitness is a brand that's known for putting out some of the best budget-friendly fitness equipment without ever skimping on quality.
Their leg press and hack squat combo unit is no exception and delivers a fantastic combo machine with all the makings of a high-end unit, at a very (comparatively) affordable price.
What I Like
Reasonable floor-space footprint at 40 inches by 84 inches.
Durable build quality with a highly functional all-steel design.
Very simple to use, and features handrail locks to keep you exercising safely.
Plenty of adjustability features to make this machine a great fit for just about anyone size and shape-wise.
Doesn't support as much weight as most of the other machines we've covered, with a maximum rating of only 875-lbs.
The pads definitely aren't the most comfortable that I've used and they tend to flatten out very easily, so I don't see longer sessions on this machine being a thing for most folks.
5. Rogue Fitness Reflex Hack Squat Machine
Best For Commercial Use & Heavy Weight Loads
Rogue Fitness Reflex Hack Squat Machine Review
If you're not budget shy and want an absolute tank of a machine for heavy weight training - the Rogue Fitness Reflex is probably the option you're after.
From an insanely durable industrial design (all-steel frame, protective coating, and corrosion-resistant paint among some of the finer details) to an insanely high weight limit and state-of-the-art comforts like rubber foam handles and several layers of safety features overtop - you've got quite a lot to enjoy with this one.
What I Like
Made from top-notch industrial grade materials that guarantee longevity and total reliability.
Plenty of versatility features like an oversized foot deck, bearing driven slide, weight band capability, and more.
Adjustable position to accommodate different builds.
Plenty of safety features like a 7-position stop and a 2-position safety handle.
Very comfortable long-lasting padding on the seat and shoulder holds.
Pretty big footprint at a whopping 103 inches in length and 82 inches in width.
Very heavy, clocking in at around 600-lbs - which creates a need for specialized flooring.
This machine is way pricier than most other machines, though it doesn't really have a strong contender in the weight capacity category, so the price is worth it to some folks.
6. TDS 35755G 4-Way Leg Station
Another Cheaper Alternative For Home Use
TDS 35755G 4-Way Leg Station Review
Maybe you're just not the bells and whistles type of person, or maybe you're in search of something cheap but long-lasting. Whatever the case may be, the TDS 4-way hip sled is a fantastic option that does away with a lot of the fancy frills, bells, and whistles in favor of a rugged, effective, and totally affordable machine.
What I Like
Sturdy and long-lasting all-steel frame with a decent weight-limit of 1,000-lbs.
Fluid roller motion, making this machine a bit more pleasant to use than most.
Plenty of safety features like a diamond-pattern footplate and hand-operated spotter stops.
Depending on your size, you might find the footplate to be a little too narrow for comfortable leg press reps.
7. XMark XM7616 Hack Squat Machine
Another Great Alternative
XMark XM7616 Hack Squat Machine Review
With a practically impeccable rugged build and a clever ergonomic design, the XM7616 makes a very solid case for itself as a fantastic alternative to the Force USA machine I suggested above.
It's a safe, effective, and very straightforward machine that comes with a stellar lifetime warranty, at a totally reasonable price. So if none of the other options on my list caught your eye - this one is definitely worth your consideration, hands down.
What I Like
Commercial-grade build quality, employing 2-inch by 3-inch 11-gauge steel.
4 settings to accommodate for a more diverse group of users in terms of height and size.
Super comfortable 3" thick vinyl cushioning on the backrest and shoulder holds to keep the machine's arms from digging into your shoulders.
Padded headrest, to keep you nice and secure while you exercise, preventing the risk of injury.
Lifetime warranty on the frame and key components.
A fair bit noisier than the average machine, with noticeable creaking sounds when the weight load nears maximum capacity.
The scratch-resistant finish isn't all that scratch-resistant in a commercial setting, though it definitely reduces the number of dings and scratches you'd normally expect.
Cheaper & Smaller Alternative Machines To The Hack Squat Machine
Whether the machines in the list above are just too darn expensive, or you just don't have the sort of floor space you'd need to accommodate one of them - there are some cheaper and smaller alternatives that you can consider.
Here, I'll introduce you to my top 3 alternatives to the hack squat machine in a similar fashion to how I presented your best options above.
1. TDS Leverage Calf & Squat Machine
TDS Leverage Calf & Squat Machine Review
if you don't have the floor-space for a full-on hack squat machine but still want to enjoy the wealth of benefits that loaded squats offer - this might just be the perfect machine for you.
This unit offers up to 1,000-pounds in maximum load, with an intuitive and effective design tailor-made for heavy exercise. Making it absolutely fantastic for a whole variety of exercises like squats, calf raises, shrugs, and more.
What I Like
All-steel heavy-duty construction that can handle just about anything you throw its way.
Comfortable gripless design that keeps you securely in place while you work out.
Ample padding that helps you work out in comfort, making your exercise that much more effective.
2. IronFitness York Power Front Squat Machine
IronFitness York Power Front Squat Machine Review
As a key part of York's ST (Strength Training) lineup - this power front squat machine packs huge gains together with its bulletproof all-steel build and effective multi-purpose design.
One of the unique things about this machine is the fact that you'll be doing a front and back squat all at once. And when you consider the fact that it packs a far smaller footprint than most comparable options - it's basically a sure bet.
What I Like
Durable and rugged all-steel construction.
Modular design allowing you to do a variety of exercises.
Compound leg movements for more effective gains.
Small footprint making it a good fit for both commercial and home-gym environments.
3. Leikefitness Sissy Squat Machine
Leikefitness Sissy Squat Machine Review
If portability and a tiny floor-space footprint are what you're after - it's hard to pass up the good old sissy squat bench.
Aside from being super easy to stow away and pull out when you need it, it's also quite affordable - all without losing the superb multifunctionality and great range of benefits that it offers.
Whether you're doing lunges, deep sissies, sit-ups, or even extensions, the Leikefitness sissy squat bench is one of the best pieces of home exercise equipment for the job.
What I Like
Super portable and multi-functional design.
You can adjust the angle and height of the bench, as well as the foot holder.
Very affordable compared to other options.
Buying Your First Hack Squat Machine - Here's What To Look For
While I definitely put in a ton of time and do my best to make my list of recommendations top-notch, there's nothing wrong with looking around on the side and exploring some alternative options.
Although, I seriously don't think there's anything out there better than the machines I've covered above.
However, just in case you do decide to take the path untrodden - here are some of the biggest factors that play into an amazing hack squat machine. Keep reading to learn about the biggest hallmarks of a quality machine and the key things to watch out for on your search.
While I'd reckon most of us aren't aiming to be Hulk's next body double, making sure that the machine you're considering offers ample room for you to play with is very important.
Especially if you're a beginner, your weight range will change and rise pretty quickly, so you'll want to plan ahead and make sure that the machine itself won't be a constraint down the line.
I'd suggest a weight capacity of 1,000 or so pounds for most folks, and if you're a professional athlete, you may want to consider something a little more purpose-tailored like the Reflex model we covered above.
Padding & Support
Now, exercise isn't exactly meant to be cushy comfy. But working out while a bar is digging right into your shoulders, or while you've got to keep yourself from falling over under a ginormous weight isn't going to bear any sort of good fruit.
When on the hunt for a solid hack squat machine, it's a good idea to check that the machine you're considering offers ample support (especially for your head and neck). Most machines provide a decent amount of padding for the backrest and shoulder holds. Though, if this is especially important to you, then it's a good idea to be on the lookout for units that boast a padding thickness of 3" or more.
And in addition to this, you should also make sure that the padding is actually comfortable for you and doesn't flatten out as soon as you lean on it. Otherwise, you'll be in for a world of pain.
Build Quality, Materials & Warranty
Obviously, the last thing you'd want is for your brand spanking new unit to fall apart the moment you do your first squat. This is where build quality and the materials used in making the machine come into play.
I'd recommend that you opt for the good old rugged and proven all-steel design. Your unit should have a decent base for maximum stability, and the mainframe should in most cases feature 11-gauge steel as a baseline.
In addition to this, it's important that the unit comes backed by a good warranty policy. Whether it's Murphy's law or just occasional inconsistencies - but I've found that even the most rugged machines can randomly break.
And in those situations having that coverage takes a huge deal of stress off your shoulders. Most brands provide 10+ years of coverage, with many even offering a life-time warranty on their hack squat machines.
It's no secret that most folks vary pretty wildly in shape and size. This makes adjustability one of the most important features that a hack squat machine could offer.
Not only do you want to make sure that the machine actually fits you to reduce injury and improve the benefits of your exercise. But you should also be on the lookout for adjustability features that help you target specific muscle groups more precisely.
While build quality, adjustability, and so forth are definitely very important features - it's never a good idea to leave your safety unchecked.
After all, one small injury can set you back heaps, nulling out any gains and results that you might have previously had.
Thankfully, most modern hack squat machines offer a whole variety of safety features. From base stabilizers to shortstops and spotter arms - you'll want to make sure that your machine offers enough layers of protection to help keep you safe while you work out.
Floor Space Foot-Print
Let's face it - for most of us, the place we call home doesn't exactly offer a whole lot of floor space to house our fitness equipment.
So, when you're shopping for a new machine to add to your collection - it's important to plan ahead and know the sort of spatial constraints you're going to be dealing with.
Top Hack Squat Machine Brands
It's no secret that whether you're looking at a cutting-edge treadmill or even just a few basic barbels, the quality will always differ wildly between brands.
So, to help you save a bit of time and focus only on the best options that are actually worth your consideration - I'll give you a quick intro to some of the top brands producing hack squat machines. Below, you'll find a quick overview of each brand's history, and what makes them so awesome.
Titan Fitness is a key player across the fitness industry and its various niches in today's day and age. They're well known for their stellar fan bikes and the assortment of rugged exercise machines they put out.
Their products are known to be practically bulletproof, handling just about anything you throw at them - and their hack squat machines definitely live up to that reputation.
In addition to this, customer service and positive experiences are ingrained in the brand's DNA, even being the company's primary focal point across all of its projects and initiatives.
Where some brands focus on durability, and others dive headfirst into innovation - Force USA promises unmatched "bang for your buck" value to its customers.
However, that doesn't mean they skimp on quality in favor of a lower cost. In fact, they spend hundreds of hours testing their products in commercial settings to make sure that each and every product that hits the market is proven, reliable, and super cost-effective.
Body-Solid is known as one of the best all-American manufacturers of high-end fitness equipment for commercial & home-gym settings.
Having first opened its doors in 1989, Body-Solid has since shipped over 500 different product models to market. From free weights and cardio equipment to strength training machines and all-in-one gym systems.
And with how often you'll run into one of their creations in just about any gym across the globe - it's fair to say that the quality of their products speaks for itself.
Ever since BodyCraft first opened its doors to fitness enthusiasts back in 1994, they've been hellbent on one very simple mission - to help people hit their fitness goals without having to break the bank.
This is why they've put together a huge lineup of innovative patented fitness gear, from mobile on-the-run equipment to fullscale all-in-one home gym systems, they've got you covered no matter your needs.
And while their products typically fall into the relatively affordable category, they're known for their high standard of quality and awesome warranty coverage, making them a key player in the commercial side of today's fitness market.
How To Use The Hack Squat Machine
Having learned about some of the best hack squat machine alternatives and the best brands to keep on your radar - it's time to really get back to the basics.
As you may know, when it comes to just about any exercise, proper form is the key to really get the gains you're looking for, while reducing the risk of any injury that might even set your progress back.
And cool as these machines are, not everyone knows how to actually use them properly (even in the fitness community). So, let's take a minute to talk about the basic steps behind working out using one of these awesome machines.
Step 1 - The Setup
First and foremost, before you jump right in to the exercise, you'll need to load up the machine with the amount of weight you plan on using for your workout.
If this is your first go at the hack squat and using the machine - I'd seriously recommend that you do some lighter rounds first before you load up with a bunch of plates and hurt yourself.
Step 2 - Get In Position
Now that you've got your weight loaded up, it's time to get into the machine.
You'll want to lean back on the bench and brace your shoulders against the padded arms of the machine. Your feet should be roughly your shoulder-width apart, with your toes being slightly pointed outward.
Step 3 - Do The Hack Squat
Once you're all set and ready to go - release the safety latch with your hands and get ready to squat.
You'll want to inhale and gradually lower yourself down until your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Take a second in this position before pushing back up with your heels back into the position you started in.
Rinse and repeat!
This video will help as well with the steps:
FAQ Most Beginners Have About The Hack Squat Machine
Now that we've got a way better understanding of the key elements surrounding the topic of hack squat machines - let's take a brief second to explore some of the burning questions that I frequently get from readers.
So far, we've covered what hack squat machines are, how they work, how to use them, and the options that are worth your time and money in today's day and age - and we'll be using this time to refresh on some of the info covered and solidify the right ideas in place.
What Muscles Does The Hack Squat Machine Work?
It's no secret that the hack squat is the perfect exercise for building massive powerful thighs. However, did you know that this exercise works out way more than just your quads?
Here's a quick list of some of the muscle groups that you can target with the hack squat.
This is a group of muscles that you'll find on the very front of your thigh and it's made up of 4 individual muscles.
Working these muscles out can help you get better knee stability, help you move around easier, and make your legs way stronger.
Just like your quads, the hamstrings are several muscles that run down your thigh. Namely, there are 3 particular muscles with one running down the back, one down the front, and one down the middle.
Targeting these muscles during your workouts can help you prevent injury and balance out the rest of your leg muscles for better balance, mobility, and endurance.
This is a muscle group on the front and back of your lower leg that is comprised of two separate muscles - the soleus and the gastrocnemius.
Unbeknown to most people, it's these two frequently forgotten muscles that play a huge role in supporting your body as you move. They act as shock absorbers and give you the strength to move forward with each step you take while also giving you firm balance.
Working them out allows you to move faster, prevent injury, and achieve better balance.
Your core is perhaps one of the most important muscle groups in your body.
Stretching from the base of your head all the way down to your pelvis - this muscle group is the biggest player when it comes to coordinated movement and balance across your entire body, acting as a sort of pillar.
A weak core is bad news. Not exercising your core enough can lead to poor balance, being prone to injury, bad posture, and rapid onset of fatigue.
Inversely, working out your core helps support your entire body, giving it the balance and strength it needs to move harmoniously, in proper form. Other great exercises that work the core, include, double crunches, and the military press. And another great piece of equipment that we recently discussed, Pilates chairs, help improve your core muscles.
What Are Hack Squats Good For?
The hack squat is undeniably one of the best compound exercises. This is due to the fact that it provides a super effective workout for some of the biggest muscle groups in your body.
This awesome exercise works out your core, glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves - providing better balance, and insane leg strength.
Are Hack Squats As Good As Regular Barbell Squats?
Of course, as with most things, this is highly dependent on your personal preference. However, hack squats offer a pretty hard to deny range of benefits over their barbell-assisted counterparts.
For one, hack squats are just way easier to do. After all - you just lean back on the padded seat, brace, and squat. You remove a lot of the stability from the equation as the machine basically guides your position - which allows you to effectively lift more weight and target specific muscle groups much better.
In addition to this, the exercise itself is just less mentally and physically taxing at the end of the day. Making it a great option if you just can't (or really don't want to) get under the bar. And that's not to mention home gyms - where accommodating a barbel isn't exactly a walk in the park unless you've got industrial concrete flooring readily set up.
Is The Hack Squat Bad For Your Knees?
Hack squat machines pretty much have you locked in position throughout the majority of your exercise. And since they basically enforce a proper form - you run next to no risk of knee injury. However, it's important to keep in mind that you should be moving your hips and knees in sync at all times, as otherwise, you could definitely cause some damage. You can use an exercise bike or an elliptical if you have knee problems and then move to hack squat machines
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