The 7 Best Alternatives To Hack Squats

hack squat alternatives
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If hack squats have stopped giving you the results you want, or you’re looking to add some variety into your workout, there are alternatives to the hack squat including options without a machine. 

These alternatives give you the same quad burning results while keeping your workout routine fresh.  

Here are 7 alternatives to hack squats:

  1. Front Squat
  2. Traditional Squat
  3. V-Squat
  4. Leg Press
  5. Wall Sit
  6. Goblet Squat
  7. Belt Squat

Front Squat

Although hack squats and front squats are similar in appearance, front squats use a form that better target your quads.  Front squats engage your quads better than hack squats since the weight is shifted to the front of your shoulders.  

  1. Hold the barbell in the rack position with an open hand grip, elbows up, and chest up.
  2. Take a deep breath and engage your core. 
  3. Push your hips back, and bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  4. Drive feet into the floor and stand back up to the start position.

Traditional Squat

While hack squats isolate your quads, traditional squats target your quads as well as your glutes, adductors, and hamstrings.  And traditional squats can be modified for all fitness levels by using squat machines to increase and decrease intensity, or adding free weights. 

  1. Stand with the feet hip width apart.
  2. Sit your hips back as if onto a chair and bend your knees to lower yourself into the squat.
  3. Lower yourself as low as you can while keeping your eyes up and your spine straight.
  4. Pause at the bottom of the squat, and then press up to the starting position.


Hack squats and V-squats both target your quads and are both variations of the same movement.  Since your toes are pointed outward vs forward with V-squats, your hips are able to move more which makes these squats a choice.  And for anyone with knee issues, the increased hip flexion it offers takes the pressure off your knee joints.

  1. Stand on a v-squat platform in a normal squat stance with your shoulders in contact with the shoulder pads.
  2. Hold onto the handles beside your shoulders and stand up till the stopper releases.
  3. Bend at your knees and lower yourself.
  4. Push the platform away to stand back up into the starting position. 

Leg Press

Both the hack squat and the leg press both primarily focus on your quads.  At first glance, the movements between the two-look similar, but each applies weight differently to your body.  With leg presses, the weight is entirely supported by your legs instead of your shoulders.  This takes the strain off your back and makes it a terrific preference.   

  1. Lie down on the machine with your feet on the platform in a back squat stance.
  2. Extend your legs out fully to disengage the safety catches. 
  3. Bend your knees until your thighs are at or below parallel.
  4. Now push the platform with your feet to return to the starting position

Wall Sit 

Much like a hack squat, when you lower yourself into a wall sit you activate your quads.  As you hold this position,

  1. Stand with your back against a wall with your feet forward about 18-24 inches.
  2. Bend your knees and slide your back down the wall until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  3. Push your back against the wall as hard as you can and for as long as you can.

Goblet Squats

Goblet squats use dumbbells or kettlebells instead of the hack squat machine to add weight.  This user-friendly option increases your core strength, balance, coordination, and gives you a better range of motion.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with your back straight and your head up.
  2. Grip a dumbbell or kettlebell in front of your chest about chin height.
  3. Bend at the hips and knees, but keep your back as straight as possible as you lower yourself into a squat. 
  4. Once your legs are at a 90-degree angle pause at the bottom of the movement.
  5. Now drive through your heels as you push back up to the starting position.

Pro-tip:  To avoid your wrists getting sore, keep your elbows tucked into your sides to better support the weight.

Belt Squat

Like hack squats, belt squats are quad dominant.  Similar to hack squats, belt squats don’t use your upper body while you are building your intense lower body strength.   And because you have a full range of motion, this effective leg exercise is less demanding on your lower back and a perfect replacement for anyone with back or mobility issues.  

  1. Set the belt squat machine.
  2. Put your starting weight on the machine and put your belt squat belt on your lower hips/upper glutes.
  3. Sit your hips back as if onto a chair and bend your knees to lower yourself into the squat.
  4. Lower yourself as low as you can while keeping your eyes up and your spine straight.
  5. Pause at the bottom of the squat, and then press up to the starting position.

With these seven hack squat alternatives to choose from, you now have lots of exercises to use to take your workouts to the next level and keep things fun.  Each alternative has something fantastic to offer, so try them out for yourself for the same amazing benefits!


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