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Why Hack Squats Cause Lower Back Pain (How To Fix It!)

If you’re wondering why hack squats cause lower back pain, then you’ve come to the right place!

In this article, we look at why hack squats can hurt your lower back and whether other variations could be better or worse for your back.

Man and woman with lower back pain holding their lower backs

Why Some People Get Lower Back Pain After Hack Squats

There are two common reasons why some people get lower back pain after hack squats:

  • Weak lower back muscles
  • Incorrect placement on the machine

While your lower back isn’t directly being worked during hack squats, it can still feel like it’s been working hard if it’s particularly weak.

If other muscle groups being used during hack squats are a lot stronger than your lower back, this can cause discomfort in the lower back muscles as they struggle to keep up with the effort required.

The hack squat machine does a great job at making sure your technique is as close to perfect as possible during the exercise.

That isn’t to say it’s impossible to get hurt though.

If you position yourself incorrectly on the machine, this can lead to pain and discomfort in areas where you should not be feeling it – like in your lower back.

How To Reduce Lower Back Pain From Hack Squats

The best way to ensure you do not get any back pain from hack squats is to ensure your technique is correct.

Even a small error in the technique can result in pain, discomfort, or even injury, so lots of care needs to be taken.

It’s also important to be realistic with the amount of weight you’re trying to lift.

Obviously, you’ll likely want to build strength in your legs by doing hack squats, but this needs to be built gradually by progressively increasing the amount of weight you are lifting.

Putting too much weight on the machine too soon can result in pain in your back.

Are Hack Squats Bad For Your Back?

Woman doing a hack squat in a gym

Hack squats offer lots of support for your upper body during the exercise.

As the machine pretty much forces you to stay in the correct position, your technique should be almost perfect with every rep.

The fact that the hack squat machine enforces good technique, supports your upper body, and keeps you stable throughout means that hack squats could be seen as being good for your back.

Why Hack Squats Are Good For Your Back

Hack squats almost completely remove your upper body from the exercise.

During a barbell squat, a large number of muscle groups and body parts are working throughout the movement.

Your back (both upper and lower) is put under a lot of stress during standard squats, so they can be detrimental to your back if you’re not using the correct technique.

Hack squats support your upper body so there is almost no stress being placed on your back.

You don’t need to hold a heavy bar on the top of your back during hack squats either.

Instead, your shoulders are in contact with two pads that put no pressure on your back.

Being a machine-based exercise, the technique is much easier to maintain.

The machine won’t move if you’re doing anything wrong, so correct technique is enforced. This results in the effort being put in from your quads, with no assistance from your back being required.

Hack squats can help improve your squatting in the long run, but help keep your back in good condition while you build up leg strength.

Are Reverse Hack Squats Bad For Your Back?

Reverse hack squats are performed facing the machine, as opposed to having your back against the back of it.

This brings your back into the exercise more than the standard hack squat, but it’s still put under less stress than from a normal squat.

Reverse hack squats are a good way of bringing in more leg and back muscles to the hack squat movement.

Are Barbell Hack Squats Bad For Your Back?

Most squat variations involve supporting weight on your upper body, which can put lots of stress on your back.

Barbell hack squats are an exception to this as the weight is held behind your lower body. This puts minimal pressure on your back.

Barbell hack squats are a great exercise for building strong leg muscles without putting added stress on your back. 


In summary:

  • Hack squats can cause lower back pain if you have weak back muscles or if you position yourself incorrectly on the hack squat machine.
  • To reduce lower back pain from hack squats, you should use the correct technique and lift a suitable weight that doesn’t put your back under too much stress.
  • Reverse and barbell hack squats are both back-friendly variations to standard hack squats.

That’s all for this article, but why is hack squat so hard? Or perhaps you’re interested in reverse hack squat vs hack squat?

Hope this helped!


Squats and Back Pain