Whisper it, but there’s more to lower-body workouts than the traditional squat! The leg press and hack squat are two of the top contenders, and while both promise to have your quads quivering like a bowl of jelly, it’s important to understand the specifics of each machine/exercise. Might one be better for you than the other?

In this blog, we'll explore the differences, pros, and cons of the leg press and hack squat, to help you decide which is best for your fitness goals.

Leg Press

An ever-present in most gyms, the leg press is a machine-based exercise where you push a weighted platform away from your body using your legs while seated. Sounds easy enough but trust us, you’ll feel the burn!

A woman exercising on a Major Fitness leg press machine

Pros:

  • Ease of Use: The leg press provides a stable platform and straightforward technique, making it ideal for newcomers or those recovering from injuries.
  • Isolation: It targets the quadriceps with precision, allowing for isolated muscle engagement and development. The relatively safe setup also makes it easier to add volume to your workout and push to failure.
  • Versatility: With various foot positions available, you can target different areas of the legs, catering to individual preferences and goals.

Cons:

  • Limited Range of Motion: Compared to compound exercises like traditional squats, the leg press offers a shorter range of motion, potentially limiting muscle activation.
  • Less Functional: The leg press lacks the functional benefits of compound exercises like squats, which mimic real-life activities and movements.
  • Risk of Lower Back Strain: Improper form, such as lifting too heavy or rounding the lower back, can increase the risk of lower back strain.

Hack Squat

A great leg day addition, the hack squat is a free-weight exercise where you use a specialized machine or a barbell to perform a squatting motion with the weight behind your body.

A woman exercising on a Major Fitness hack squat machine

Pros:

  • Compound Movement: Why work one muscle when you can work them all? The hack squat engages multiple muscle groups including the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and lower back, making it a highly efficient exercise.
  • Functional Strength: Mimicking natural squatting movements, the hack squat can improve functional strength and mobility, while putting less strain on your spine than a traditional squat.
  • Range of Motion: Compared to the leg press, the hack squat typically allows for a deeper squat, which may increase muscle activation and growth.

Cons:

  • Learning Curve: Proper form is crucial to avoid injury, and mastering the hack squat technique takes time, especially for beginners.
  • Risk of Knee Strain: A deep squat position in the hack squat can put significant stress on the knees, especially if performed with improper form or excessive weight.
  • More Limited Access: The fact is, the hack squat machine is not as common in gyms compared to the leg press, so it’s not quite as reliable to include in your routines.

So, what’s the verdict?

The leg press and hack squat offer unique benefits and drawbacks, and the best choice depends on your individual fitness goals, experience level, and personal preferences. If you’re a beginner or have specific muscle imbalances or injuries, you might find the leg press to be a safer and more accessible option. On the other hand, if you fancy yourself as a more intermediate or advanced lifter and you’re looking for a more comprehensive movement, the hack squat may be what you’re after.

Ultimately, it’s best to incorporate a variety of exercises into your leg workout routine and that could easily include both the leg press and hack squat. Whatever you’re doing, just remember to prioritize proper form, gradually increase weight and intensity, and listen to your body to avoid injury and achieve optimal results.

We here at Major Fitness are aware that some of you are super keen to get your leg day in. We hear you, and are excited to say we'll have more options for you coming soon - so stay tuned!


Recommended

Man standing beside Major Fitness smith machine and hack squat machine in a home gym setup
Raymond C·
what does hack squat work? Muscles Targeted, Benefits and technique

Do's and Don'ts of Ironman Training at Home
Jhon Kenneth Delos Reyes·
Do's and Don'ts of Ironman Training at Home

Man performing a calf raise exercise on a Major Fitness leg press hack squat machine
Raymond C·
How to Do Calf Raises: A Comprehensive Guide


All comment(1)

How much is this

Kershon Davis

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.