6 Great Reverse Hack Squat Alternatives

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Reverse hack squats have their positive points but you may need other movements. Discover some alternatives to this exercise with similar effects.

A hack squat machine is a steel construction where you push up weighted pads along a guide rail system with the help of your leg muscles.

Reverse hack squats are an exercise where you use this machine with your face towards it instead of away. By doing this the exercise focuses slightly more on your lower back, erector spinae, glutes, and hamstrings.

In turn, reverse hack squats can help you build muscle mass, burn calories, and offer other typical exercise benefits.

Whether you don’t enjoy reverse hack squats, you don’t have a hack squat machine available at home or in the gym, or you want an alternative for any other reason, these reverse hack squat substitutes can offer you some or all of the same benefits.

1. Front squats

For the first reverse hack squat alternative, you preferably have a barbell with plates and a squat rack. Once you have these, take the following steps to do a front squat:

  1. Find a squat rack and place the barbell at about chest height. Add the desired number of weight plates. If there are any safety bars adjust them to the right height.
  2. Stand in front of the barbell, put the barbell on the front of your shoulders, and hold it there with your hands. Hold the barbell in position by letting it rest on the inside of your fingers. For this, you have to point your elbows forward and hand palms upward.
  3. Unrack the barbell and take a few steps back so that you have room to squat. Stand up straight with your feet at more or less shoulder width.
  4. Slowly lower your hips by bending your knees. How far depends on different factors like knee health but at your lowest point you want your hips to be at or lower than your knee height. You will likely have to bend forward for balance but keep your back in a straight line throughout the movement.
  5. Push yourself up again into starting position by stretching your legs.
  6. Rerack the barbell after your desired number of repetitions.

Front squats are basically the reverse hack squat but in free weights form. That means you mainly work your quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, lower back, and erector spinae.

The different equipment makes it so front squats require and train your balance and balancing muscles more. This can be good or bad depending on your training goals.

A different squat variation with similar muscle engagement is the goblet squat where you hold a dumbbell against your chest. One downside of this is that dumbbells have a relatively low weight limit.

Possibly not enough to train your quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings.

2. Leg presses

The leg press is a gym machine where you push away weights from your body with your legs. This can be both sideways but more often upward while sitting in a low seat.

This machine looks like a seat with a pad with weight to put your feet against. This may sound and is similar to the hack squat machine but these fitness equipment options are not the same.

Leg presses require even less effort from your lower back and erector spinae muscles. At the same time, this alternative still works the same leg muscles as reverse hack squats but with more focus on the quadriceps.

Besides that, reverse hack squats and leg presses are similar in that they require basically no balance and balancing muscles.

A benefit that the leg press machine has over the (reverse) hack squat is that it tends to be more common in gyms.

3. Landmine squats

For the next reverse hack squat alternative, you need a landmine setup. This is an attachment that secures a barbell at the ground level. The landmine setup opens the door to exercises like the landmine squat.

Take the following steps to do this exercise:

  1. Set up the landmine with the desired number of plates. Squat down right in front of the end of the barbell with a straight back and put your two hands under the barbell.
  2. Squat up relatively explosively and bring the landmine to chest height. Hold the end of the barbell right above your chest with both of your hands.
  3. Slowly lower your hips by bending your knees. How far depends on different factors like knee health but at your lowest point you want your hips to be at or lower than your knee height. Keep your back straight throughout the movement.
  4. Push yourself up again into starting position by stretching your legs in a controlled motion.
  5. Lower the landmine to the ground after your desired number of repetitions.

To follow the upward trajectory of the landmine you squat slightly forward. This leads to a bit more quadricep engagement than reverse hack squats. That being said, the exercise is still really similar.

One benefit of landmine squats over other squat variations like the front squat is that you need to use less balance since the barbell is anchored to the ground with the landmine attachment.

This is not to the same extent as the hack squat machine but could be helpful if you want to focus more on the big muscles and less on training balance and the muscle that are engaged to do that.

4. Deadlifts

For the next landmine squat alternative, you likely need external weights, preferably a barbell.

In theory, you can even do this exercise at home or in the gym without a bar by using other free weights and even heavy resistance bands.

Take the following steps do a deadlift with a weighted barbell:

  1. Stand up straight with your feet at more or less shoulder width in front of a weighted barbell.
  2. Slightly fold your knees and tilt your upper body forward to grab the barbell on the ground.
  3. Stretch your knees and tilt back your upper body at the same time until your upper body and legs are stretched in one straight line. When doing a deadlift it is very important to keep your back in a straight line during the exercise.
  4. Slowly move back into the position of step 2.

Good technique is important in any exercise to avoid injuries but especially so for deadlifts. Before trying to deadlift the heaviest weights it is smart to improve your technique first by starting with light or no weights at all.

Something that stands out in deadlifts is that you need no machines or other special equipment to do them. All you need is a barbell and weight plates which are relatively standard in (home) gyms.

Deadlifts work the same big muscle groups as reverse hack squats. That means muscles like your quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings.

At the same time, deadlifts focus slightly more on your glutes and hamstrings and slightly less on your quadriceps than reverse hack squats.

Additionally, your lower back, erector spinae, trapezius, and grip muscles will have to work a lot harder.

5. Smith machine front squats

A smith machine is a gym machine where a barbell goes up and down in a fixed trajectory guided by rails. The barbell can also be racked at any point which can remove the need for a spotter.

If you have this piece of fitness equipment available, take the following steps to do a fronts quat on the smith machine:

  1. Place the barbell slightly lower than shoulder height. Add the desired number of weight plates.
  2. Stand right in front of the barbell with your face towards it. Fold your legs a small amount so you can rest the bar on the front of your shoulders. Keep your back straight.
  3. Unrack the barbell. Stand up straight with your feet at more or less shoulder width.
  4. Slowly lower your hips by bending your knees. How far depends on different factors like knee health but at your lowest point you want your hips to be at or lower than your knee height. Keep your back in a straight line throughout the movement.
  5. Push yourself up again into starting position by stretching your legs.
  6. Rerack the smith machine bar after your desired number of repetitions.

Because of the fixed trajectory of the smith machine, you have to use your balance and balance muscles less.

This alternative is basically the same as reverse hack squats but less comfortable with the bar on your shoulders and you have to push slightly more forward to stay balanced.

You can do other squat variations with the smith machine but the front squat version will resemble reverse hack squats the most.

A potential downside of smith machine front squats is that you need a smith machine. This is again a machine that is not always available.

6. Good morning

The good morning exercise is usually done with a barbell but you can also other free weights, resistance bands, and gym machines like the cable machine or smith machine.

Even at home, you could use a weighted backpack to make the bodyweight version more challenging. Take the following steps to do a good morning with a barbell:

  1. Find a squat rack and place the barbell at about chest height. Add the desired number of weight plates. If there are any safety bars adjust them to the right height.
  2. Stand under the barbell, push your shoulders up so that the barbell rests on your higher back, and hold it there with your hands.
  3. Unrack the barbell and take a few steps back so that you have room to squat. Stand up straight with your feet at more or less shoulder width.
  4. Tilt your upper body forward as far as is comfortable with a good posture (but not farther than a horizontal line). At the same time bend your knees a small amount.
  5. Return to the position in step 3 in a controlled motion.
  6. Rerack the barbell after your desired number of repetitions.

The good morning may look similar to the popular back squat exercise but you go a lot less through your knees. This leads to a focus on different muscles.

With this alternative, you focus more on your lower back, glute, hamstring, and erector spinae training and less on leg muscles like your calves and quadriceps.

The good morning can be a good reverse hack squat alternative if you like this different muscle engagement. If you want to work on your quadriceps the other substitutes on this list will be a lot better.

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Author:

Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.