Exercise Profile
  • Target Muscle Group
  • Exercise TypeStrength
  • Equipment RequiredBarbell
  • MechanicsCompound
  • Force TypePush (Bilateral)
  • Experience LevelIntermediate
  • Secondary Muscles
    Abs, Adductors, Calves, Forearms, Glutes, Hamstrings, Lower Back
Target Muscle Group


Quads Muscle Anatomy Diagram

Barbell Hack Squat Overview

The barbell hack squat is one of the most underrated and underperformed quad building exercises out there. Often referred to as the reverse deadlift, the behind the back positioning of the bar in the barbell hack squat puts a lot of pressure on the quads to force them to grow.

The barbell hack squat also indirectly targets other muscles of the leg as well as the core and low back. Most people choose not to barbell hack squat because of its challenging set up and execution. However, there is a lot to gain from performing this exercise including muscle growth and improved performance.

Barbell Hack Squat Instructions

  1. Position the bar just behind your calves and set up with a shoulder width stance.
  2. Reach down and grasp the bar with a double overhand (pronated) grip and assume your normal deadlift starting position. However, set up with your torso in a slightly more vertical fashion.
  3. Take a breath and initiate the movement by driving your feet into the floor.
  4. Stand tall as you extend the knees and hips simultaneously to bring the bar to lockout.
  5. Lower back to the starting position and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Barbell Hack Squat Tips

  1. If you find you have a tough time maintaining a vertical torso angle, elevate your heels on a slant board or using 5lb plates.
  2. Don’t put your feet outside of shoulder width as this will force you to widen the hands and increase the ROM of the lift.
  3. Drive through the whole foot - you want 3 points of contact: big toe, little toe, and heel.
  4. Some forward translation of the knees over the toes is alright provided that the knees don’t deviate excessively inward or outward. Those with longer femurs will have to allow their knees to come farther forward if they want to remain upright.
  5. If find the bar is running into your glutes or hamstrings on the way up, it’s likely because you’re shifting back into your hips. Lighten the load and work on keeping your knees forward to target the quads as you extend the legs.
  6. Neck position is highly individual as well - some prefer a neutral neck position (i.e. keeping the chin tucked throughout the lift) while others do well with looking straight ahead. Experiment with each and see which one works best for your anatomy.
  7. Don’t push the knees out excessively but ensure they track roughly over or slightly outside the 2nd toe.
Posted on: Wed, 02/16/2022 - 15:53

Hi! What kind of exercise could I do instead of this?
I really struggle with my balance and tend to fall backwards, so I don’t feel confident doing this

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Posted on: Sat, 02/19/2022 - 10:49

Hi, Jenni. What kind of equipment do you have access to? Do you train in a gym or at home?

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Posted on: Sat, 02/19/2022 - 10:49

Hi, Jenni. What kind of equipment do you have access to? Do you train in a gym or at home?

Posted on: Thu, 03/17/2022 - 00:05

I also have the same issue with form. I train at tha gym.

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Posted on: Tue, 03/22/2022 - 18:54

Hi, Grace. If your gym has a hack squat machine, that would be the best alternative. If not, a leg press would serve you well.