Both the deadlift and the hack squat are two widely used exercises in the world of bodybuilding training. Both carry a long list of benefits and train the major muscle groups almost better than any other exercise does.
During this article, we will review these benefits and analyze these exercises in depth. We will see what type of trainees they are suitable for and we will understand some of the concepts that surround them.
All scientific evidence supporting the claims made in this article will be attached at the end of this article.
The deadlift is one of the best exercises to include in your routine.
A true compound exercise that will strengthen your hamstrings, your entire back, your core, your trapezius, and your grip strength. You can think of this exercise as the foundation of all exercises.
Its execution is quite practical: walk towards the bar, place your feet under it so that it is in the middle of your stance. Then, grab the bar without bending your legs. Now bend your knees until your calves touch the bar, raise your chest and pull.
There are multiple variations of the deadlift and each has its benefits. Here are the two most commonly used and highlight their differences.
This is the most common variation of the deadlift. It is one of the first exercises we are taught when we enter a gym and rightly so. In this type of deadlift, your feet will be shoulder-width apart and your arms will grab the bar with a wider grip than your stance.
This variant of the dead weight is similar to the conventional one with the difference that to perform it we will take a much wider stance. This is the reason for its name since this new position simulates that of a sumo fighter at the time of combat.
Which of these variations to perform will have to do with your body structure. People with long legs tend to find it easier to practice the sumo variation, while people with a longer torso tend to benefit more from conventional deadlifts. We invite you to try both and include the one you like best in your routine.
In addition to these two main ways to practice deadlifts, there are many others as well. Among them, SLDL, Roman deadlift, kettlebell, and dumbbell deadlift.
These variables are more specific to different goals, mainly within hypertrophy training. They focus more work on the hamstring and are usually practiced with much lower loads and more repetitions.
Unlike regular squats, the hack squat will adjust your position by supporting your back, allowing you to work your quads in a more isolated manner.
We know that compound exercises are generally the best for almost any goal in the gym, but in addition to performing these movements, it is very beneficial to add some accessory exercises to your routine to complement them.
The hack squat is one of the few machine-based exercises that I include in my routine.
The movement will be very similar to the one we perform with the free weights squat, however, the difference is that with the hack squat machine we will get support during all the motion.
The muscles that are involved as stabilizers in a normal squat will not have to perform this function during the hack squat. This will allow isolation and concentration work on the quadriceps.
A case for the hack squat might be, for example, a trainee who is noticing a plateau in his leg growth and suspects that this may be triggered by an inability of his stabilizer muscles to tolerate the loads necessary to train the quadriceps.
We recommend including this exercise in your routine not only to target different angles of your quads but because it’s a simple and easy exercise to perform for beginners.
It’s easy execution-only consists of performing the squat movement while positioning your back on the machine’s padding.
The hack squat is a very safe and easy to practice exercise, it is excellent to aid your leg day squats by strengthening your quads.
Deadlift Vs Hack Squats: Which Is Better for You?
Which Works More Muscles?
The deadlift is a compound exercise. Several muscle groups participate in the movement, either as main actors in the pull or as stabilizers.
The hack squat, on the other hand, aims to isolate the quadriceps a little more so that its effort is not limited by the strength of the stabilizer muscles that would work in the squat with free weights.
For this reason, the deadlift will be the exercise that works the most muscles. Just as it will be compared to the biceps curl. Not for this reason, however, it will be a better exercise.
Which Is Better for Quads? What About Glutes?
The hack squat is best for the quadriceps and the deadlift is best for the glutes. For excellent lower body development, it is best to include both in your routine.
The squat with free weights will provide greater gluteal activation than the hack squat. The deadlift does not provide significant quadriceps activation.
Which Is Safer?
This question is not so simple to answer.
If two people were entering the gym for the first time and practicing both exercises without assistance, the one doing deadlifts would most likely be more likely to get hurt.
Generally, free-weight exercises require more attention to technique when performing them. Machine-based exercises tend to be more self-explanatory.
However, for most trainees, deadlifts are a very safe exercise if practiced conscientiously and with ego out of the way. An excellent way to hurt yourself in the gym is to deadlift more weight than your technique can handle.
We recommend performing the deadlift with the help of a knowledgeable coach, at least the first few times.
Hack squats are safer than the deadlift. But this also can be proven to be untrue if you are performing this exercise on a machine that is not quality tested or has been used beyond its safe and practical wear limits.
Machines that are quality tested are the only one that you should be performing the hack squat on to ensure that you are able to perform the exercise correctly and safely.
Which One Is for Beginners?
Performing exercises with free weights is one of the best practices that any beginner can acquire when starting their career as a trainee.
Deadlifts are one of the most powerful and comprehensive exercises in this category. It involves several muscle groups at once and you will notice rapid improvements in execution and lifting ability just by practicing it.
On this occasion, I would choose deadlift as the best exercise for a beginner to practice.
As mentioned, this should be performed under the observation of a coach with knowledge of the movement. The deadlift is the exercise where form matters the most.
However, there is no reason that a beginner must include both exercises in their routine.
A smart way to introduce the hack squat is to help a beginner who has never squatted before build up the strength needed to perform the free motion squat or to help a plateaued squatter to progress, but it is also an excellent accessory exercise to perform from the beginning.
Which Is Better for Athletes and Bodybuilders?
For strength athletes, the deadlift is an indispensable exercise in the training routine. It is also one of the three movements in which they compete in the powerlifting discipline.
Bodybuilders, on the other hand, do not need to break PRs. A bodybuilder might not perform a maximal deadlift during his entire career.
However, when we talk about bodybuilders, we are not talking about who starts training to be a bodybuilder.
We are talking about professionals who dedicate a large part of their lives to sculpting their physique and make money doing it.
When you start hitting the gym, whatever your goal is, I think you should do the deadlift unless you have a physical impediment to do so. The long-term goal you have in mind
will influence the scheme you will adopt to practice it.
The frequency and volume will probably be different, but the movement is beneficial to anyone who can safely practice it.
After analyzing these two fantastic lower body exercises. Do them both.
Deadlifts and hack squats are both excellent choices to include in your routine. The machine-based hack squat may be easier to execute at first, but don’t get frustrated if you can’t perform the deadlift with proper technique.
With a little practice and the right stance, anyone can include the deadlift in their training program and reap the full benefits!