Last updated on October 29th, 2022 at 06:32 pm
So, you want to know whether there’s an ideal hack squat to back squat ratio?
These are two fantastic lower body exercises, especially for overall quad development.
However, should you be able to lift a certain amount of weight with one movement when compared to the other?
Or are the two lifts so different to each other that there’s no way to actually compare the two?
Allow me to reveal all.
Hack Squat to Back Squat Ratio
There is no ideal hack squat to back squat ratio. However, the vast majority of people should be able to hack squat significantly more weight than they can back squat. There are statistics which reveal that on average you should be able to hack squat approximately 21% more weight than they can back squat. This actually increases to 44% for elite-level lifters (training for 5 years or more).
Should You Hack Squat More Than Back Squat?
I would say that the vast majority of people will be able to perform hack squats with more weight than they back squat.
In fact, I’ll go as far as to say that if you’re back squatting more then there is something seriously wrong.
Okay, I understand that how often you perform a certain exercise will help to improve and increase efficiency and effectiveness.
So, there could be certain exercises that you perform with much more weight than another, even though this goes against everything that we know.
A prime example of this is that most people will deadlift more than they squat.
However, there are certainly cases where people squat more than they deadlift.
This probably initially comes down to the fact that they squat more often.
That being said, as the two exercises are so different to each other, there are also certain body types and leverages, e.g. arm or leg length, which make one exercise easier than the other.
Nevertheless, most people will squat more than they deadlift, and hack squat more than they back squat.
The Squatting “Stabiliser Muscles”
The main reason you should be able to hack squat more comes down to the support for your back, and fewer stabilising muscles required to perform hack squat.
We all typically view squats as the major lower body exercise, often referred to as “The King of Lower Body Exercises”.
This simply comes down to the fact that you’ll hit just about every muscle in your lower body when you squat.
Granted, squats are generally viewed as quad-dominant exercise.
However, squats will still hit the glutes, hamstrings, and adductors as well.
Furthermore, just the simple fact that there is a loaded barbell across your shoulders means that your upper back and traps have to work fairly hard too.
Plus, let’s not forget how much your core is involved when you squat.
Pretty much all of these stabiliser muscles either have no involvement, or much less, when it comes to performing hack squats.
Hack squats are definitely a quad-dominant exercise, and actually much more so that traditional barbell back squats.
Now, you may think that because there is less involvement from the other lower body muscles during hack squats, this may actually make the exercise more difficult.
However, you should also remember that the squat is a fairly technical exercise.
It also requires a great deal of balance and coordination.
In fact, quite often it is the stabiliser muscles that fatigue before your quads when you squat.
I would even go as far to say that there are a wealth of other exercises that are far better for quad development than conventional squats.
And I definitely include hack squats in this equation.
How Much More Should You Hack Squat Than Back Squat?
As I’ve mentioned, there isn’t an ideal hack squat to back squat ratio.
However, the fact remains that you should be able to hack squat more than you back squat.
In fact, according to StrengthLevel, it appears that the average lift for both exercises saw hack squats performed with 21% more weight than back squats.
Interestingly, for elite lifters, this figure increases to 44%.
These figures are based on male lifters.
Now, women are typically more quad-dominant than men, simply due to hip width.
And this definitely comes across in the statistics provided.
The average between the two lifts for females saw hack squats performed with 28% more weight.
And this increases to 58% for elite lifters.
Suffice to say, both men and women are lifting substantially more weight when they perform the hack squat.
Are Hack Squats Just as Good as Regular Squats?
I know for a fact that many gym-goers often look for a replacement for barbell back squats.
To be honest, I totally get it, as barbell back squats can be brutal on the body, especially when performed with poor form.
That being said, not everyone will have a body suited to squatting.
So, for all the people who say that you “have to squat”, I disagree.
Yes, squats are a basic human movement pattern, but this still doesn’t mean that everyone is capable of performing a perfect squat.
And it is for this reason that you may find that your squats are limited in terms of weight or mobility.
Plus, you may even end every squatting session in pain.
So, as I say, squatting may not be for everybody, and you can certainly build a fantastic physique without barbell back squats.
As for whether you can entirely replace back squats with hack squats, I would have to say no.
You can definitely use hack squats as your main squatting lift.
However, the simple fact that your stabilising muscles, as well as your hamstring and glutes, don’t work anywhere as hard, tells you that you need a little something more.
Personally, if you’re going to replace the barbell back squat with hack squats, I would suggest that you also increase the amount of Romanian deadlifts that you perform.
This will help to “make up” for some of the lost glute and hamstring activation typically associated with barbell back squats.
9 Hack Squat Mistakes & How to Fix Them
So, I hope you understand that there is no exact hack squat to back squat ratio.
That being said, you should definitely be able to perform hack squats with more weight than back squats.
In fact, there are statistics to show that many gym-goers are performing hack squats with 21-44% more weight than back squats.
The main reason for this is that the back squat is a far more technical exercise, which also requires a great deal of balance and coordination.
Furthermore, you are using far more stabilising muscles during barbell back squats.
And more often than not, it is the stabilising muscles that fatigue before the primary muscle groups that you work during squats.
However, your back is supported during hack squats, plus there isn’t anywhere near as much activation of the glutes and hamstrings.
And this is why you will generally be able to hack squat a lot more weight than you back squat.
If you’re ready to your squats and hack squats to the next level then please check out my review of the 12-week muscle-building program Massthetic Muscle.
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.