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Do Hack Squats Work Glutes? (Here’s The Answer!)

If you’re wondering whether hack squats work glutes, then you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, I answer whether hack squats are good for glutes, whether other hack squat variations are better at targeting your glutes, as well as the optimum foot placement on the hack squat machine for glute activation.

Woman with big glutes on a beach

Do Hack Squats Work Glutes?

A hack squat is a compound movement that works all of the muscles in your lower body.

Although your quadriceps will be the main focus of the exercise, your glutes and hamstrings are heavily involved in hack squats too.

Many squat variations involve heavy work by your glutes and hack squats are no exception. 

How Hack Squats Work Glutes

The hack squat machine is great at ensuring your lower-body muscles are doing all of the work during the exercise. 

As your upper body is supported by the back of the machine, your core muscles will engage less.

This will result in your glutes, quads, and hamstrings working harder to move the weight without extra help from your core.

By using a hack squat machine, it’s much more likely your technique will be correct.


Well, many exercise machines won’t actually move if you’re doing anything wrong. 

The machine also prevents any excess movement in your body.

This excess movement can generate momentum and help you move the weight without engaging the target muscle groups.

As the correct technique is enforced and unwanted momentum is reduced, the appropriate muscle groups will have to engage to perform the movement.

In this case, your glutes, quads, and hamstrings. 

Hack Squat Foot Placement For Glutes

Having your feet higher on the foot pad of the hack squat machine will help target your glutes. 

While you won’t be able to isolate your glutes during hack squats, a high foot position will make your glutes engage much more than a lower foot position. 

Having a lower foot placement reduces the amount of work your glutes have to do, as other muscles take more of the load. 

Your feet being shoulder-width apart on the foot pad can also help engage your glutes, as the wider your stance, the more work your inner thigh muscles do.

So by keeping a narrower stance on the machine, your glutes will need to work harder. 

Are Reverse Hack Squats Good For Glutes?

Reverse hack squats engage the muscles on the backside of your body more than regular hack squats. 

During reverse hack squats, your upper body isn’t supported by the machine resulting in greater movement from your hips. This leads to more activation of your glutes and hamstrings.

Even though your glutes may work harder in reverse hack squats, they still won’t be the only muscle working. 

Your quads, hamstrings, calves, and your core muscles all work during reverse hack squats, so they’re a great lower body exercise. 

If you want to put a bit more emphasis on your glutes during your leg sessions, reverse hack squats are an awesome choice. 

Are Barbell Hack Squats Good For Glutes?

Barbell hack squats can seem quite awkward at first glance. 

Aside from being a fantastic lower body exercise, they’re actually easier on your lower back than conventional squats.

This is because the weight is held below your centre of gravity, meaning your back muscles don’t have to support the entire weight of the bar.

The main muscles worked during barbell hack squats are

  • Quads
  • Glutes
  • Adductors
  • Lower Back
  • Trapezius
  • Calves

Predominantly, barbell hack squats target your quads. 

That doesn’t mean your glutes don’t engage though.

It simply means that your quads do most of the work during barbell hack squats and your glutes (and the other muscles in the list) act as secondary muscles during the exercise.

The technique is extremely important with this variation as you won’t have the support of a machine to guide you. 

Your starting weight should be low until you are comfortable with the technique.

At this point, you can look to increase the load on the bar to further develop your glutes.


In summary, hack squats work your glutes to some extent but they focus on your quads. If you want to build big glutes, you should focus on squats.

That’s all for this article, but do hack squats work hamstrings? Or can you do hack squats instead of squats?

Hope this helped!


Hack Squats Muscles Worked