Top Hack Squat and Leg Press Machines
The back squat may be the best overall thigh developer, but it is also the toughest on your spine and knees. Having a hack machine in your home gym allows you to squat without the pain. The benefits of these machines are that they will relieve pressure on your lumbar region while allowing you to target specific areas of the thigh. In this article, we will review the 10 best hack squat machines for home use.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 16 hours of research
Sealed ball bearings
Adjustable seat and plate
Best Hack Squat Machines
1. Body-Solid ProClubLine
Sealed ball bearings
Adjustable seat and plate
Difficult to assemble
If you need something that is similar to the easy to use machines at the gym right in your own home, this design from Body-Solid is well worth the investment. Users love that it is built tough to accommodate high weights, and it is super easy to use as well as adjust. It may come in at a pretty high price point but it is worth every penny for those that are determined to never skip leg day!Read more
The very first thing that we noticed about this design is that it is super easy to adjust. The weights with this design are included and can be adjusted by simply pulling out a pin. It comes with plates that weigh up to 210 pounds, which is ideal for really building up those leg muscles.
What makes this design stand out from the pack is that the seat can be adjusted, as well as the squat plate. This allows for deeper lifts and also accommodates a wide variety of users, both tall and short. Sealed ball bearings also provide smooth and frictionless movement that is ideal for drop sets.
If you are willing to spare no expense for a serious machine, you can’t go wrong with this design from Body-Solid. While it may come in at a pretty steep price point and takes up a lot of space in your home gym, we feel that it is well worth it!
2. XMark Rotary
Easy to load
Plates not included
Awkward getting into the machine
XMark is a brand that is known for strong and sturdy quality for home workout gear, and this rotary design is no exception. It boasts a smaller frame than many of the full-size options, but it is just as mighty. Users love that it boasts a super padded seat and supportive features that allow you to really dig into each and every rep.Read more
What makes this design stand out from the pack is that it has all of the supportive features of commercial designs, but it is made for home use. Users are able to adjust the back, seat, and thigh supports so that it is able to comfortably accommodate a wide array of users.
Instead of loading the plates on the front of the unit, plates are loaded onto the side. The strong and steady plate rack keeps the plates from shifting around as you engage from the top to the bottom of the press. Plus, you can even remove smaller plates for drop sets without even getting up out of the seat.
For those in the market for something that is small and compact, the XMark Rotary is a great option. We love that it is composed of string and sturdy materials that hold up well over time, and it comes in at a price point that won’t break the bank. The only downside is that plates are not included in this model.
3. XMark Hack Squat
Smooth track action
1000 pounds weight capacity
Inadequate assembly instructions
The XMark hack squat combination leg press allows you to completely customize your positioning with four settings on both the backrest and footplate. A simple pull pin allows you to instantly transform the machine from a leg press to a hack squat.Read more
The construction of this machine enables you to focus on your lower-quadriceps and prevents pressure on the knees. You are also able to get a full extension on the hack movement.
The back pad provides you with full back support. It has three-inch foam padding, covered with tear and sweat resistant Duraguard vinyl. The footplate is large enough to allow you to vary your foot positioning for variations of the squat machine.
4. Iron Company
Easy to use
Welded steel frame
What we love most about this design from Iron Company is that it is made from high-quality materials that are able to hold up to some pretty tough workouts. While it comes in at a pretty steep price point, it is well worth it considering the muscle groups and high weights it is able to hit without the need for a spot. For home workouts, this is a must-have for any personal gym.Read more
The thing that makes this design stand out from the pack is that it uses universal Olympic weight plates that you may already own. By allowing you to make plate adjustments yourself (instead of using a pin system), you can make smaller or larger adjustments catered to your workout and strength level.
Users also love that this machine is incredibly comfortable to use. The pack and shoulder pads boast thick cushions that reduce the risk of it digging into your skin while engaging in multiple reps. This commercial-grade design boasts a strong welded steel frame that will stand the test of time.
If you are in the market for something that is easy to use and built to handle some pretty heavyweight, this option from Iron Company is an excellent option. While it may come in at a steep price point, it is worth every penny when you consider it’s versatile and heavy-duty design.
5. TDS 4-Way Hip Sled
Thrust wheels for stability
Steel tube construction
Deluxe stitched contoured padding
Heavy-duty side frames
This four-way hip sled was designed to be used as one supremely powerful leg squat machine that will build you the muscles of your dreams. It can work as a hack squat, leg press, forward thrust, and calf raise machine all at once!Read more
Do not be worried about the massive size and the big number on the scale of this hack squat machine - it has four wheels, each rated at 750 pounds, that keep the construction solid and safe. Additional four side thrust wheels give this squat machine even more stability, so don't worry about it toppling over you.
The specially designed heavy-duty frames on the sides will last long and won't bend no matter how much weight you push up against them. The construction of this machine is secured by 2" Sq. steel tubes, making the squat machine, when combined with everything else, super durable and hardy.
The shoulder pads have thick stitches, and the padding is contoured with deluxe stitching, so you can enjoy super cushy back and shoulder support for a long time.
6. Body-Solid Powerline Vertical Press
Protects your back
Plates not included
If you are feeling a little overwhelmed by the price tag on many of the commercial-grade designs, this option from Body-Solid is slightly more affordable. What we love most about this design is that it boasts a smaller footprint, and it is incredibly easy to use. Simply load up the top with a plate, and get to work!Read more
Just like a standard horizontal machine, this option is also able to be adjusted. Users can adjust the pitch as well as the height of the back and neck rest that accommodates a wide variety of users. It uses the weight of the plates as well as gravity to build muscle in your legs while protecting your lower back as well.
What we like most about this design is that it requires that users lay on the floor, which helps to disengage your back muscles so that the majority of the work lies with your legs. Simply load up your desired plates onto the posts, and lift the pad up and off of the rack for an effective and safe workout.
Not only does this machine come in at an affordable price point, but it doesn’t take up as much room as many of the other designs out there on the market. It’s also an ideal machine for those that struggle with lower back issues, and need something that will be kind to your spine without sacrificing performance.
7. Body-Solid Powerline Press
Easy to assemble
Simplicity is the name of the game when it comes to this design from Body-Solid. It is made from strong and durable materials that are built for a myriad of workouts, not just your legs. This machine is super simple to assemble, and users can adjust the weights loaded onto the central post quickly and easily. Plus, it comes in at a price point that won’t break the bank.Read more
The very first thing that we noticed about this design is that it is small and compact which makes it perfect for small spaces. It boasts a basic bench frame that is able to be set at a decline for various core and bodyweight exercises as well.
To use it as a leg press, simply load up the central post with your desired weights, and anchor your ankles into the foam-coated posts. This design makes it easy to load up the bar with your desired weights, and then easily slip them off for a drop set. Plus, it clocks in at a price point that won’t break the bank.
What we liked most about this simple design from Body-Solid is that it doesn’t work to reinvent the wheel. This frame is used by amateurs as well as veterans to really engage your quads and stabilizing legs muscles for a really concentrated leg workout.
8. Body-Solid Pro Dual Leg Extension
Curved welded frame
Easy to adjust
210 pounds stack
Looking to spare no expense on a commercial-grade option from Body-Solid? While this design comes in at a pretty high price point, it is worth every penny for those serious about leg day. It boasts incredibly supportive features that help you really dig into each and every rep safely and effectively.Read more
What makes this design stand out from the rest is the way in which it is designed. Proper posture ensures that you effectively trigger the right muscle groups for the best results. By using bio-mechanically accurate pivot points, you are able to dig into those big muscle groups while keeping your spine and lower back disengaged and supported.
We also like that this design is incredibly easy to use. It is made from a continuous welded solid frame that has no weak spots, so you can feel free to really push yourself to your limits without concern for the integrity of the frame. Changing the weight or the position of the pads is as easy as popping out a pin!
If you are in the market for something that is quite similar to designs found at the gym this option is a great choice. We love that it is easy to use and it is built from an incredibly solid frame that will stand the test of time. It may cost you more than some of the more affordable and simple options out there, but it is well worth it in the long run.
9. Live Well Raptor Raptor Unilateral Inverted
Singular leg option
Easy to load
Plates not included
This design from Live Well gives you the same workout as a standard inverted press, but it is plate-loaded instead of using a stack. Users love this design because it has a sleek style that will add a pop of color and character to your home gym, and it is incredibly easy to use. While it boasts a pretty steep price tag, we feel that it is worth every penny.Read more
The very first thing that we noticed about this option is that it has a sleek and modern style. The frame is composed of a solid metal frame that has a bright white powder-coated finish. The backrest is made from a bright blue seamless material that works to wick away moisture and bacteria.
To use this design, simply load the rack with your desired weights on the side post. What’s great about this design is that you don’t have to work both legs, you can opt to work one leg at a time. By focusing on one leg, you can benefit from a more focused workout.
If you are in the market for something that has a sleek style and is made from quality materials, this design from Live Well is an excellent choice. Users love this design because it is super simple to use, and offers a more focused leg workout than many of the dual designs that we have seen so far.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Before you actually get to use the hack squat machine, you need to adjust it properly.
You should do this by first positioning yourself on the seat, and placing your feet on the platform. Both the backrest (together with the seat) and the footpads will be sitting at a 45-degree angle, so if you're not used to this it will take some time until you are comfortable with it. Before you attempt to use the squat machine, check that the weight selected is right for your fitness level. Make sure that you are comfy taking the full weight of the shoulder pads while your knees are slightly bent. If the shoulder pads are too high, now is the time to adjust them.
Once you've adjusted the sled position and the weight of the shoulder pads, it's time to flick the safety stopper to release the safety locks. If you don't know what they look like, they are the things sticking out of the middle of the squat machine. Double-check if the sled's position works for you!
Now it's time to start using the machine. First, you must load both of the bars on either side of the machines' sled with the proper weight. The sled is the moving part that slides around as you use it, and simply because of the sled moves and nothing else, you don't need to put the collars on the weights. Again, place your feet flat on the platform, with your back straight against the pad, and your shoulders nestled between the shoulders pads. Make sure that you're feet are adjusted to keep your knees from bending more than they're supposed to when you squat, which is in front of your toes.
Flick the safety stoppers, and let go of the stopper handles. The only part of your body that should move when you use the squat machine is your knees since you will need to squat down to a 90-degree angle. If this does not feel comfortable, go as far as you can without feeling pain! Then straighten your knees and press the sled back into the starting position. Go for a set of 12 or so reps, and make sure that they are slow and controlled. Once you're comfortable with doing 12 reps, increase the weight by 5 or 10 percent.
Once you're ready to step off, engage the safety stoppers when the sled is as high as it can be. Lower the sled until you feel the stoppers lockdown, and then you're safe to get off!
Now you know how to use the squat machine; but how effective is the machine, is it worth learning how to do it?
Hack squats target the same muscles as regular squats, which is your quadriceps muscles, but more to the front of your thigh. There are four quadriceps muscles that work when you perform these squats, and they attach to your thigh bone and the front part of your pelvis and are connected with your knee through a common tendon, which is then attached to your shins through one more tendon. The quads are the muscles that are responsible for straightening your knee. If you place your feet towards the back of the footplate, your quadriceps will contract, even more, making the exercise super effective. Hack squats also strengthen your gluteus maximus. This muscle is responsible for flexing your hips, and if you want to work on your gluteus you should place your feet closer to the front of the footplates.
Besides all of this, hack squats are just as effective as regular squats are, and have the very same benefits. Squats obviously build the muscles of your lower body, but that's not all that they can do. Squats will work on body-wide muscle building because they create something known as an anabolic environment. When you do squats with the proper form, their intensity can release testosterone and the growth hormone, and both of them are necessary for muscle growth.
Squats are functional exercises. These exercises are the ones that can be helpful for you even outside of the gym, in real life. Squats are definitely one of the most helpful functional exercises out there since you will have many chances in your life to use the strength and range of motion squats have generated for you.
Of course, the more you do squats, the more fat you will burn. The more muscles you have, the more calories you will burn, so get squatting and you will burn that stubborn fat once and for all! Also, your balance and mobility will improve, while your leg stabilizer muscles strengthen, prevent injuries and joint aches. All in all, you will give both yourself and your body a great favor if you start using the hack machine!
One raging problem with hack squats, and leg presses generally, is the belief that these machines hurt our knees.
Some people are so afraid of this that they skip the squat all together. But will squat inevitably hurt your knees, or is that caused only by bad form and overachieving?
The hack squat is definitely more convenient than the barbell squat, simply because it requires no spotter. This can be problematic though if you do not know what you're doing and are using the squat machine the wrong way. Yet, the hack squat is generally safer than the barbell squat, since it's gentler for the knees and it offers better control. The proper stance, which we described in our Use section, is vital if you want to keep your knees, and the rest of your body, safe and sound. Remember to keep your toes slightly bent outwards! Keeping them pointing forward will overload your knees. You can change your stance throughout the exercise, either going for a wider or a narrower stance, but if you have knee issues go for a wider stance.
One more way to ensure that your knees stay safe is to wear the proper gear. Shoes that have flat soles are a recommendation, since you keep your feet in close contact with the machine, making your knees more stable as a result. Knee wraps are also one way you can reduce the risk of injury. Knee wraps are absolutely necessary when you lift heavy! This is because a wrap can reduce the pulling forces on the ligaments of your knees, so use the wraps if you're going to attempt to lift more than 80% of your max!
If you follow everything we pointed out here, your knees will not suffer, and you will be able to workout safely. But before you actually attempt to use the machine, you also have to make sure that it's working properly, and that all parts are connected the way they are supposed to because this can also be a big safety hazard. Imagine getting under the leg press with a substantial amount of weight attached, only to have it malfunction and the full amount of the weight you attached slamming down on you full speed!
So always check that all of the parts are working properly, that they are attached together correctly, and that there are no malfunctions present. Do not ignore even the smallest malfunction, as it can lead to a greater one, and you can be injured as a result!
Something every company that created hack squat machines is proud of is the adjustability of their machines.
This is because every good hack machine needs to have the option to be adjusted to fit users of all shapes and sizes. A person that is six feet tall won't be able to fit into a squat machine set for a person that is five-foot-eight! Also, the weight needs to be adjustable as well, since no one has the same fitness level.
There are many parts of the hack machine that can be adjusted. Most importantly, the weight you bear with your legs can be easily manipulated. This allows you to set your own pace, and to progress steadily and carefully. usually, the hack squat machines come with several weight plates that can be easily added to them, so you lose virtually no time setting the machines up. Then you go onto the shoulder pads and the backrest, which can also be adjusted. This is important because they need to be able to accommodate both short and tall people. Most of the hack machines we wrote about in this guide are not just hack machines - instead, they are a combination machine, usually paired up with a leg press, but they can have parts for calf raises and much more.
All of these parts are movable, and they can be moved very quickly thanks to safety pins and stoppers, so all you gotta do is move a few parts and in mere seconds you're ready to try on a new machine!
Let's face it - hack squat machines are not cheap. In fact, they are one of the priciest pieces of gym equipment you can buy!
This is why it's vital that the squat machine you buy actually lasts you a long time. Most of the hack machines we mentioned here, if not all of them, are extremely durable, thanks to their masterfully crafted components.
Firstly, we've got the frame. The frames of these machines are either heavy-duty steel or nickel and are powder coated or covered with chrome to make the frames scratch and abrasion-resistant. This makes the machines able to withstand a lot of weight and movements. Then, the seats and pads. These are usually padded with high-density foam, while vinyl makes up the upholstery. Both of these materials tend to last a long time, and even if the vinyl or foam breaks down, replacing it is simple enough and you can continue on using the machine.
The screws, nuts, and bolts all have to be super strong to hold everything in place, and that they are! Just make sure that they are neatly placed into the squat machine, no loose areas, and you're good to go!
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Believe it or not, squatting, and every machine associated with it, including the hack squat machine, have been used as tools in physical therapy, especially for the knees. It might seem a little bit odd, considering the fact that squatting tends to be risky for knees, but if the environment is controlled squatting can allow the knees to bend more than they originally could, either due to injury or illness. Squats also work on improving our stability, without putting pressure on joints that might be injured, so as a result you have improved balance and pain-free joints. Of course, you won't go deeper than 50 degrees (some even say that 16 is enough)!
To the untrained eye, there's not much difference between the hack squat machine and the leg press. Some leg press machines can even turn into hack squat machines with a few simple adjustments. So where does the difference lie? The only difference here is the angle at which the press sits. The hack squat machine has a 45-degree angle, so it's often called the 45-degree leg press machine, while every other press position is just the press machine. This angle works on your hamstrings a bit differently than other angles do, which is why it was thought of in the first place. You won't go wrong in choosing any of these machines, and it would be best if you used all of them!
Other Factors to Consider
This is a site about garage gyms, so one thing that might affect your choice of machine is its portability. Hack squat machines tend to be huge, and very heavy! So they are definitely not the most portable machines in the world, but they won't come fully assembled, and some parts can be easily removed to be stored away, so the hack machine takes up much less room. Some machines are smaller and don't weigh more than 110 pounds (without weights), so you can easily move them around. But there are no transportation wheels, and if you're not so strong you will probably have trouble moving it around, so it might be better to just set it up in one part of your room and leave it be!
Assemble it where you want it to be - the assembly process is never that hard, and there are instructions that are easy to follow most of the time. If you assemble the machine by yourself, you will be able to disassemble it to store it away if need be.
Our top-rated home hack squat machine is the Body Solid, which can change insanely fast between the hack and leg press, equipped with a super smooth quad glide tracking system and comfy padding. We were also impressed with the Body Craft 660, which is extremely versatile, giving you the chance to try out hack squats, calf raises, donkey squats and of course, leg presses.
Our third favorite squat machine is the XMark hack squat, again combined with a leg press, which has a very comfortable seat, footplates that are extra wide, while both of these are very adjustable and can accommodate people of all shapes and sizes.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What are hack squats good for?
Hack squats, just like the leg press, barbell squats and everything else related to squatting, are good for your lower body, and for developing your legs. But this is not the only thing they are good for!
Hack squat machine, and squatting in general, can make you more fit for everyday tasks as well since you will be using your legs every day. They also improve our stability and balance. And best of all, the hack squat machine helps you burn that unsightly fat, so you should head onto the machines as soon as you can!
q: Can I use a leg press instead of a hack squat machine?
When you first step into the gym, it really is hard to decide which machine to use, unless you've got a route that is already established. So choosing between the options of the squat press machine can truly be a hard choice, especially when you're not really sure where the difference lies.
If you don't know where the difference is and are wondering whether you truly need to use the hack squat machine, the truth is that they are essentially the same, but the angle at which the press sits at is different, so the muscles will be worked on in a different way, and they will develop very well if you decide to use both of them!
q: Can I hurt myself doing hack squats?
You can hurt yourself walking, sleeping, eating, and even breathing, so the answer is yes, you can hurt yourself. Your knees are the ones you should worry about here, but if you know the proper form and stance for this, there's essentially nothing to worry about. The amount of weight you choose should also be appropriate for your fitness level - it shouldn't be something that you can't handle comfortably!
Make sure that someone is there to tell you just how to use the leg press hack squat machine properly, that you maintain good form, and that you have the right shoe style, and you will be injury-free.
q: Is it better to just simply do barbell squats?
The barbell squat and the hack squat essentially work on the same muscle group, but the way they work on them will vary. With the barbell squat, you will need to maintain a different form. Your grip will need to be mighty good, and you will need to engage your arms as well, to physically hold the weight above you. With the hack squat machine, you give your shoulders and your arms a rest, while your thighs and legs, in general, do all the work.
Hack squats are gentler towards your knees and joints, but if you feel like you don't want to mess around with a big complicated machine, you can just do barbell squats.
q: With how much weight should I begin with?
If you're a beginner, you will be happy to know that you can easily use the hack squat machine, as long as you know how to maintain the proper form. But the trouble is that we often don't know just how strong we are, and with how much weight to begin with. If you truly are a complete beginner, it would be good to try working with 12 to 15 pounds, and then see if you can comfortably repeat 12 presses that way. If it's more than comfortable, you can gradually increase the weight until you feel your muscles burn, without feeling like you will drop the whole thing on your head.
It all boils down to trial and error, so give the squat machine a try and we're sure that you will figure out just how much weight you need to use!
q: Which is better, hack squat or leg press?
While they both help to strengthen muscles in your legs, there are slight variances in the two. The hack squat machine forces you to engage not only your legs but your core muscles as well. This compound movement engages a larger number of muscle groups but fails to concentrate on just your leg muscles.
The leg press, on the other hand, focuses primarily on your leg muscles. It’s perfect for those that want a more focused lift that isn’t a compound movement like we have seen with the hack press.
q: Do I need to leg press if I squat?
The key to muscle growth is to always challenge your muscles in different ways. While the traditional squat is a great way to build muscle, your muscles will start to adapt to the movement over time. By varying your movements with a leg machine, you can hit all of the muscle groups in your legs in new ways. Plus, a leg press machine provides a much more targeted leg workout than the traditional squat.
Traditional squats are a more compound movement that triggers your core and back muscles, and a leg machine focuses primarily on your legs.