What's the Better Exercise? Squats Vs Hack Squats
Performing Heavy Squats
Developing Muscular Legs
Any time you walk in to a gym or fitness center, you are going to find a large variety of different machines, apparatuses and free weights to work each and every part of your body. When you have so many ways to train, you will eventually try to determine which exercises your body responds to the best. I cannot stress this enough that everyone's body is different. With so many different machines and exercises to choose from, everyone's body will respond differently to different kinds of training/stimulation. Simply changing the angle of any particular exercise even slightly, can alter the muscles fibers involved or incorporate more muscle fibers that are affected by the movement. Recently I was asked by a gym regular, which was the better leg exercise for optimum thigh development. Is the squat the best or is it the hack squat?.
How to Perform the Squat Exercise
Both the squat and hack squat exercises are extremely beneficial to any leg workout routine. As far as one being better than the other, well there are various factors that would determine this and it pretty much all depends on you. The first questions that need to be answered when trying to figure out which is better for you is one, what goals are you trying to accomplish and two, what sport/activity you are participating in, if any. If you are into body building, fitness competition, or any other kind of weight training competitive sport, that is associated with more muscle growth, you will more than likely use both exercises. The squat will be used as your muscle builder. If you're just a regular gym rat trying to lose a few pounds or get/stay in shape/fit, the stress of super heavy lifting really isn't that necessary. You do not need to use huge, heavy weights to develop/tone a muscle.There are several different training methods, and the machines and exercises that will get you the greatest gains that are contingent on what you want for your body.
The Squat is a Mass Builder
Lower Muscles involved in the Squat
Muscles involved in Squat
If you are into competitive body building or just trying to become a mass monster, the squat is going to be one of the most beneficial leg exercises, primarily because it incorporates a larger number of muscles and fibers, including your quads, hips, glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. All of which are a part of your core and increases your strength and stability building. Your shoulders upper back and abdominals also come into play during a squat with good form. If gaining huge size is your primary goal, it is imperative that you lift with heavy weights. So what's the down side? Is there a downside? Well research has shown that performing heavy squats on a consistent basis can put a greater degree of stress/pressure on your knees and lower back, making them more susceptible to injury. If you have not done squats before or are just beginning, It's definitely recommend to keep your hips tight and sitting back into the squat, rather than leaning forward. Use a bench or a box under your butt until you are stronger and comfortable squatting without one.This will alleviate some of the stress put on your knees. You should also use your brain when squatting, not your vanity. The quality of your form and sets is much more important than the number of plates on the bar. Don't try to impress the girls in the gym and hurt yourself.
Proper Hack Squat Execution
The Hack Squat
Some people who are not fitness freaks and go to the gym regularly may not be very familiar with the hack squat exercise. It almost appears to be kind of like a smith machine laying down at an approximate forty five degree angle with a lot of back support. There are many advantages of the hack squat. It's very similar to the sissy squat, as it builds and puts a lot of stress on your front quads and your hamstrings evenly. The hack squat machine provides the balance, stability and offers support and protection to your lower back that the free weight standing squat rack does not. It also allows you to take a much narrower stance when performing the movement without the complications of being unbalanced (machine provides the stability). Using a full range of motion, bringing your butt all the way down to the floor and coming back up until your legs are almost straight, without locking them out. If you haven't tried the hack squat, they can be extremely challenging and difficult. If you are just beginning your fitness journey, starting out with the hack squat would probably be the most advantageous to do until your body/core is strong enough to provide itself with strength, balance and stability to use the freestanding squat rack.
Muscles worked in Hack Squats
Which exercise is better?
So is one exercise better than the other one? Like I stated previously, with everyone having different fitness goals for their body, there is really no clear cut answer. It's dependent on you. For me personally, I have always incorporated both of the exercises into my workouts. I have competed in natural competitions, but I like to do both for overall muscle development. Sometimes I will perform them on the same leg workout day and other times I will throw the hack squat in with my hamstring workout routine, as I am always constantly changing my workout routines. I am more interested in symmetry rather than size for my body, however, both exercises are extremely beneficial for leg development and would be a great addition to any routine, regardless of your fitness goals. So I say, do them both!
The Hack Squat Exercise
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.