Skip to Content

Hack Squat For Hamstrings (Tips & Best Foot Placement!)

When it comes to lower body workouts, the hack squat exercise often takes center stage.

Renowned for its ability to target the quadriceps and glutes, many fitness enthusiasts wonder if hack squats also work the hamstrings effectively.

While the primary focus of hack squats is on the front of the thighs, the dynamic nature of the movement can have secondary benefits for other muscle groups.

In this article, we delve into the question of whether hack squats are good for hamstrings, exploring the mechanics of the exercise, the involvement of different muscle groups, and potential strategies to maximize hamstring activation.


Do Hack Squats Work Hamstrings?

Hack squats work your whole lower body. In other words, hack squats work your glutes, quads, and hamstrings.

While hack squats don’t isolate and work your hamstrings independently, they’re still a great lower body exercise that can build size and strength in your hamstrings, quads, and glutes.

As your upper body is supported by the back of the hack squat machine, your core muscles do less work resulting in more work being done by your leg muscles.

Hack Squat Hamstring Focus Tips

By making slight adjustments to your form and incorporating specific techniques, you can ensure that your hamstrings are effectively engaged.

Here are some tips to help you maximize hamstring activation during hack squats:

Increase your range of motion

To engage the hamstrings more effectively, strive for a deeper squat position. Descend until your thighs are parallel or slightly below parallel to the ground.

This increased range of motion puts more emphasis on the hamstrings throughout the exercise.

Focus on the eccentric phase

The eccentric or lowering phase of the hack squat provides an opportunity to target the hamstrings further.

Control the descent of the weight and emphasize the stretch in your hamstrings as you lower yourself down. This controlled eccentric movement can enhance hamstring activation.

Mind-muscle connection

Concentrate on the muscle you want to target. Visualize the contraction and activation of your hamstrings as you perform the hack squats.

This mind-muscle connection can enhance the recruitment of the hamstrings and improve overall activation.

Incorporate pause reps

Introduce brief pauses at the bottom of the movement.

When you reach the deepest point of the squat, hold the position for a second or two before driving back up. This pause can intensify the recruitment of the hamstrings and increase their activation during the exercise.

Hack Squat Foot Placement For Hamstrings

Foot placement can have a big impact when it comes to the muscles targeted during hack squats.

For a hamstring focus during hack squats, you should aim to have your feet quite high and near the top of the platform.

Having your feet lower down the platform targets your quads more, so a higher foot position is preferred for hamstring development.

Your glutes activate more if you have a wider stance on the platform, so a narrower, high foot position will be most effective at engaging your hamstrings.

Are Reverse Hack Squats Good For Hamstrings?

During reverse hack squats, the main muscles being used are the hamstrings and glutes.

Your quads and calves will also activate but only as secondary muscles, so more emphasis is placed on your hamstrings. 

One thing to keep in mind that differs from doing standard hack squats is that when doing reverse hack squats, only your shoulders and feet are in direct contact with the machine. 

This means your core muscles will engage much more during a reverse hack squat.

When doing standard hack squats, your upper body is supported by the back of the machine. But this is not the case when doing the reverse variation of the exercise.

Are Barbell Hack Squats Good For Hamstrings?

A simple way of thinking about barbell hack squats is to consider them to be deadlifts done with the bar behind you, instead of in front of you. 

Barbell hack squats are more challenging than the machine version, so you’ll need to take care in choosing the appropriate weight and using the correct technique. 

The main muscles used during barbell hack squats are the quads. 

Your hamstrings do activate during the movement, but they mainly act as stabilizer muscles as opposed to being used to lift the bar.

As with reverse hack squats, your core muscles come into play too. Since your body will have no machine to keep you in the correct position. 

If you want to focus on building your hamstrings – reverse machine hack squats will be your best option.


In summary:

  • While hack squats mainly focus on your quads, they also work your hamstrings to some extent.
  • Placing your feet higher up on the hack squat machine can help focus the exercise on your hamstrings.
  • Reverse hack squats are a more effective alternative for targeting your hamstrings.

That’s all for this article, but can hack squats replace squats?

Hope this helped!


Hack Squats Muscles Worked