Muscles of Iron

Strength, Health, and Might

Beef Up Your Quads with the Hack Squat

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A great leg movement that requires only a barbell and a three-foot chunk of a two-by-six is the Hack squat. I’m referring to the upright sissy squat hybrid, not the reverse deadlift type that’s popular in the odd-lift contests these days. The competitive version does little for development.

A single set of Hack squats of 12-15 reps after your last set of heavy flat–footed barbell squats or trap–bar lifts will set your quads on fire. Keep an upright position and plant the bar firmly behind your butt with an underhand scoop grip. Squat down to just below the parallel position, hold for a brief pause, rise up and repeat. You don’t need much weight, 125-135# for a guy who does his last set of squats with 350-400#.

Photo 1

Cartoon drawing of a shirtless 'bodybuilder' doing the Hack squat with a heavy barbell.

The Hack squat is an excellent supplemental exercise for building and shaping the quads. Drawing by Chris “Sticks” Bostick. All rights reserved.

A good “quads” routine might look like this:

  • Full Squat — 3 x 6-8 reps (increasing the barbell weight 25% each set).
  • Hack Squat — 1 x 12-15 reps with approximately half the weight used for your first set of squats.

If you incorporate the Hack squat into your training routine, after a few weeks you’ll find a pleasant increase in muscular endurance, jumping ability, and quad shape that carries over to your heavy squats.

Chris “Sticks” Bostick,
MOI contributing writer