The hack squat requires a piece of equipment to make it work, and it is often considered a lifting exercise for beginners, but that assumption leads intermediate and advanced lifters to avoid the lift in place of lifts that are considered advanced. This is a mistake, as any lifting or workout routine should feature variety.
The occasional session involving the hack squat will help reduce repetitive strains and injuries and build muscles that are neglected during other lifts. A variety of how and what you lift may not sound appealing, because you may feel it dilutes your workout, but your overall strength and long-term health will benefit. As a side note, it will also prevent you from looking like a poorly stuffed beanbag.
How to Do the Hack Squat
Lie on the machine with your back against the pad and push your shoulders just under the shoulder pads. Ideally, you should place your feet at shoulder width apart on the machine, though there are many foot variations you could consider.
Keep your head up, as it will help you press your back against the pad, and point your toes slightly outwards for comfort. Grab the handles as you see in the picture, and try not to tense up your arms too much.
Remove, push off, or disengage the safety bars. Straighten your legs, but do not lock your knees. Consider this your starting position.
Bend your legs slowly and try to make sure your posture remains straight and your back stays evenly pressed against the back-pad. Go down until the angle between your calves and upper leg is a little under 90°. Many say you should inhale as you move from your semi-standing position down to the squat.
As you begin to rise back up you should exhale. You should push against the floor or foot plate with the heel of your foot (mostly) until you reach the standing position once again.
Which Muscles Does the Hack Squat Work?
Mostly, you will work your quadriceps, along with your hamstrings, calves, and glutes. As a beginner, you could do far worse than hack squats. They can help build muscles in your legs so that you may undertake goblet squats, deadlifts and such.