Best Leg Press Hack Squat Machine 2022

If your goal is to build bigger leg muscles, then squats alone will not cut it. A hypertrophy-focused movement should be your go-to.

Fortunately for you, the leg press and hack squat machines are built for that purpose. These two machines allow you to move a significant amount of weight while focusing most, if not all, of that poundage on your quadriceps, quads, or front thighs.

Even better than two separate machines is a single machine that allows you to interchange between leg pressing and hack squatting.

And, this leg press/hack squat combo is exactly what I’ll be talking about in this article. I will also be giving you a list of the best leg press/hack squat combo machines out there.

Best Leg Press Hack Squat Machine at a glance

1- BEST OVERALL: Force USA Ultimate 45-Degree Leg Press Hack Squat Combo

2- BEST BUDGET-FRIENDLY: Titan Fitness Leg Press + Hack Squat Machine

3- BEST DESIGN: Body-Solid Leg Press & Hack Squat

4– BEST COMPACT: Hoist Fitness Leg Press Hack Combo

What is a Leg Press/Hack Squat Machine?

There are two types of leg press: the conventional leg press and the hack squat.

Both machines work using a sled that holds the weight.

The difference between the two is the lifting position and which part of the body moves with the weight sled.

On the leg press machine, you are seated close to the floor, with your back against a padded surface. You push up from the ground, diagonally, to move the weight sled.

On the hack squat machine, you are standing with your back and shoulder resting on the padded, moving weight sled. You push away, also diagonally, from the ground.

Design aside, they both function to work the quad muscles primarily, and the glutes secondarily. The emphasis on the muscle group can change depending on your foot position.

Thus, the leg press and hack squat work your legs’ push muscles, contributing to larger and stronger quads and glutes.

Who should use a Leg Press/Hack Squat Machine? 

The leg press and hack squat machines are for those that aim to get bigger legs from the front, thus, a stronger pushing power.

Hence, training with the two machines is not only for aesthetics, but also for functional strength.

Everybody should be using the leg press and hack squat. The weights are adjustable, so it is suitable for everyone regardless of fitness level.

While the squat is often seen as the holy grail of leg gains, this is only true for strength. If you aim for maximal hypertrophy, these two leg machines will get the job done.

Squats can be loaded heavy, but it takes a lot of muscles to do the movement. Besides the obvious leg muscles, you also need to have a strong core, back, and mobile shoulders to do it safely.

Thus, for those looking to get bigger and stronger legs without the high risk for injury, need for coordination, or to work around injuries, the leg press and the hack squat are for you.

How is the Leg Press/Hack Squat Machine used?

Let us go more into detail about how to use each of the two leg-building gym machines.

To make it easier, let’s define some terms first.

The platform or footplate is where your feet will be placed.

The weight sled is the part of the leg press or hack squat equipment that holds the weight. This is the moving part of the machine.

The seat is where your torso or upper body rests against.

The leg press has you, essentially, sitting down close to the floor. It works by having you push up on the weight sled/platform combo. The sled slides down diagonally, and you push against the platform while your torso remains stationary, planted firmly on the seat.

The hack squat is, basically, an inverted leg press. Wherein your back is rested on the seat/weight sled combo, and the platform is near the floor. The seat, besides having a back pad, also has shoulder pads because of the nature of using the machine.

Leg Pressing and Hack Squatting Tips:

1. Getting the most knee flexion is key.

Knee flexion is the motion of your legs bending. In leg movements, getting the most knee flexion means the bottom of the hamstring touches the upper portion of the calves.

Use that as a cue when doing leg presses and hack squats.

2. Find the sweet spot.

Before starting your working sets or “the sets that count”, do a couple warm-up sets. Don’t just go through the motions.

During warm-ups, fix your foot placement and find the position that allows you to get the most knee flexion at the bottom of the movement. Then, you can be sure that you are maximally stimulating the quads in your working sets.

3. Play with width.

If you want the exercise to be more glute-focused, you can play with the width of your stance. 

Usually, a wider grip activates the glutes more than the quads. Unlike squats, it is okay to go as deep as you can to ensure all the muscles you are working on are stretched and flexed. Just don’t go too deep that you lose all the tension.

Also, a wider stance helps you get more knee flexion because you get rid of the limiting factor which would be hip flexion.

4. Push through the platform.

As a cue, imagine pushing your feet through the platform instead of pushing against it. This helps you cement your feet into the platform and forces your upper body to lock up and lock into the pads.

What this cue helps you with is to focus all the motion in the knees and ankles only, which is where all the motion should be.

Advantages of Using a Leg Press/Hack Squat Machine

Isolate the quads

The leg press and hack squat machines are quad builders. They allow you to focus all the weight on your lower body’s push muscles and position your body in a way that is most advantageous for lifting the heavy weights you’re supposed to.

Thus, it paves the way for significant muscle gains.

Emphasize the glutes

These machines let you bias the glutes in a squatting position, which is something that is hard to do with a barbell back squat. You can adjust your foot position and stance to emphasize workload on the booty.

Great for hypertrophy focus

Because it puts you in a fixed position, all the poundage is lifted by your legs. By design, it is meant to let you maximally stimulate the quadriceps muscle fibers.

There’s no need to balance, brace your core, or activate other muscles to perform the lift. Thus, all the energy and effort is spent by the legs alone.

Work around injuries

If ever you find yourself injured on the upper body, maybe you have a strained neck or a fractured arm, you’ll still be able to train the legs with max effort.

The design of a leg press and hack squat machine allows you to isolate the legs, without heavy or even medium work from the other limbs, and the torso.

Why work around injuries if you are able to? Because it allows you to still enjoy the benefits of working out such as better energy levels. Plus, the better your overall health is, the faster you can recover from your injuries.

Disadvantages of Using a Leg Press/Hack Squat Machine

Bulky piece of equipment

The leg press and hack squat, whether as single machines or as a combo machine, are bulky pieces of gym equipment.

First, they are long. Second, they have to be wide to accommodate different foot stances. Not only that, but they are also usually tall.

So, be sure to have a big space for it, as well as have a sturdy enough floor to be able to hold the weight of the machine and the weights.

Not versatile in terms of muscles you can train

While this is an obvious one given the name of the gym machines we are talking about, this is where I would stress the price of leg press/hack combos.

Most leg combination machines worth their salt would cost upwards of $1500.

With that price, you can already buy a complete home gym station like a functional trainer or a power rack. (Please link the previous functional trainer and power rack articles if doable.)

Requires you to purchase a lot of weight plates

The legs are your most powerful muscle group. Just look at the impressive feats of powerlifters; their max squat is double their max bench and significantly higher than their max deadlift.

Heck, Ronnie Coleman was able to leg press 2,300 pounds of weight for reps. That’s about 51 45-pound plates!

Thus, be prepared to buy not just a leg press/hack combo, but also at least six to eight 45-pound plates.

What to Consider When Buying a Leg Press/Hack Squat Machine

Build Quality

Durability

Since the leg press and hack squat machine would be taking on heavy weights, we want a sturdy and durable piece of equipment. Look at the steel gauge used in fabrication; 11-gauge steel is the standard for heavy-duty exercise machines.

Thick gauge steel also ensures stability. The heavier the machine is, the better. You do not want a machine that shakes and wobbles while you use it.

In terms of how the steel posts are connected, welded and bolted are both fine. For welds, make sure they are not just spot-welded. And for bolts, make sure the machine has thick bolts and nuts.

You will surely be dripping sweat over the machine. Thus, for the best protection against corrosion, go for a powder-coated leg press and hack combo. 

Weight Sled Rollers

The most important moving component of a leg press and hack squat combo machine is the weight sled. It will be carrying a lot of weight while it slides up and down the angled guide rails.

Make sure the rollers of the machine are tough, preferably a nylon-reinforced PVC wheel. 

Also, look at the bearing mechanisms of the rollers. Linear bearings are better than simple ball bearings because they ensure a smoother motion.

Size

Consider two size factors: the size of the machine itself, and the size of the platform.

For machine size, consider the space you’ll be putting it in. This type of fitness machine requires a long space.

For platform size, the wider it is, the better. This is because it will allow you to experiment more on foot stance and you will have a wider area for adjustment.

An oversized platform is ideal because it will allow versatility. And, while we are on platforms, also consider the texture of the platform. You’d want one that is not slippery, like a diamond-plated one.

Comfort

Since you’ll be under a lot of weight, your leg machine should be comfortable, thus, well-padded.

The leg press and hack combo should have about three areas with pads, two back pads: one for the leg press which would be at the bottom, and one for the hack squat on the weight sled, and two separate shoulder pads.

Most machines tend to have plain, flat pads while some have contoured and ergonomic ones.

The levers to lock the weight sled in place should also be easy to reach, especially during sets where you go to failure.

So, look for a press and hack combo that is easy to manipulate and lock into place.

Weight Holders

While you may have a weight tree in your gym, a leg machine with built-in weight holders will definitely make your life easier.

You won’t have to lift several 45-pound plates from one area to another while setting up for a lift and after. All you’d have to do is pick it up from the sides of the machine to the holders on the sled.

Lockout Positions

The leg machine you choose should have at least three locking positions: one at the top, one in the middle, and one at the bottom.

The locking positions allow you to position yourself optimally, depending on your limb lengths and height. 

The more lockout positions the machine has, the easier it is to find the correct starting position without having to tiptoe or bend too far down. Plus, it makes the machine safer since you can lockout at any portion of the movement if you fail to lift the weight.

Weight Capacity

Choose a leg combo machine with a high maximum weight capacity. The lowest should be a thousand pounds. Again, your legs can take a lot of load, even as a beginner.

A high weight capacity gives you infinite room for progressive overload. Thus, you won’t need to worry about maxing out your machine.

Additional Features

For utmost safety, you can look for one that has a carriage locking handle/safety stopping mechanism that allows you to lock the sled in place, if necessary.

This is entirely different from the lockout handles and is used when absolutely needed such as when your legs give out or you feel pain during a set.

Another great feature to look for are shock absorbers at the bottom of the angled guide rails. They absorb and diffuse the weights when they unintentionally slam down to the bottom, thus protecting you and the machine also.

Lastly, there are combo machines that require you to remove a seat or platform entirely so you can switch from leg press to hack squat. For an easier switch, look for one that requires you to simply flip the pads and drop the footplates.

Exercises You Can Do

Leg press and hack squat combo machines are versatile lower body training tools. While the movement is unidimensional, you can perform up to 5 leg exercises on it.

Work your quads, glutes, and calves on this type of machine.

Here’s a list of the exercises you can do on them:

1 – Leg Press 

2- Hack Squat

3- Forward Thrusts

4- Calf Raises

5- Unilateral Presses

Best Hack Squat Machines in 2021

1- BEST OVERALL: Force USA Ultimate 45-Degree Leg Press Hack Squat Combo

SPECIFICATIONS:

  • Dimensions: 94 x 66 x 60” (DWH)
  • Build Quality: 13 and 11-gauge steel construction, powder-coated
  • Adjustability/Safety Features: 5 safety lockout features, adjustable seat and footplate angles
  • Weights and Weight Capacity: 4 plate storage holders, 4 sled weight holders, 1000-pounds max capacity
WHAT WE LIKEWHAT WE DON’T LIKE
✅ Oversized footplate❌ Some reviews say it’s not made for short lifters
✅ Heavy-duty construction❌ It is pricey
✅ Shoulder pad with hand grips
✅ Great added features

The Force USA Leg Press and Hack Squat Combo is the sturdiest and best-built machine in this list because of its thick-gauge overall construction, anti-corrosion coating, and easy adjustability.

This leg machine lends itself well to versatile workouts. The top and bottom footplates have adjustable heights and angles so you can easily shift the emphasis on the muscles you wish to work–  more quads or more glutes, you can do both with this leg press/hack squat machine.

The oversized footplate also gives you more room to adjust your foot stance and body position where you are most comfortable, safe, and strongest, regardless of your height.

One more thing I liked about the Force USA combo are the added features: the band pegs to add a better resistance profile to the lifts you do, the calf block so you can really stretch and, thus, grow your calves into cows, and the Olympic plate sleeve so you can use any type of plate you want on it.

It is also easy to switch between the leg press and the hack squat because all you need to do is attach the padded backrest to the small notches made in either platform/footplate.

And, if you want to avoid going too low, it has an adjustable safety stopper to keep the tension in your muscles and not your tendons and joints.

The Force USA combo machine lets you go beast mode on your leg workouts but makes sure you do it safely.

BOTTOM LINE
Tough built, easy to convert from one machine to another, enhanced safety — the Force USA Leg Press and Hack Combo will make you train hard and train confidently. With the additional lifetime structural warranty, the high cost is justified by its value.

2- BEST BUDGET-FRIENDLY: Titan Fitness Leg Press + Hack Squat Machine

SPECIFICATIONS:

  • Dimensions: 84 x 40 x 53” (DWH)
  • Build Quality: Thick-gauge steel construction, powder-coated finish
  • Adjustability/Safety Features: 3 lockout positions, adjustable leg press seat angle, safety handrails
  • Weights and Weight Capacity: 2 plate storage holders, 2 sled weight holders, 875-pound max capacity
WHAT WE LIKEWHAT WE DON’T LIKE
✅ Great price to value ratio❌ Short weight holders
✅ Loadable sleeves❌ Only two weight posts for working out
✅ Easy to switch between exercises
✅ Flip-and-lock mechanism

Titan Fitness is known for their low prices, and high quality. The Titan Leg Press + Hack Squat Machine fits that description perfectly.

This leg machine comes in an all-black powder coat to protect against corrosion in the long run. It is built with minimalism in mind, with no unnecessarily thick posts or engraved designs. It is built with functionality in the forefront, which Titan is known for.

The best feature, for me, of this leg combo machine is how easy it is to go from leg press to hack squat and back. The leg press pad simply flips up and locks in place. For the hack squat back pad, all you need to do is pull and flip down the footplate.

The top-to-bottom rails act as the control handles for both the hack and the leg press. It also serves as a guide rail while you power through your squats.

It has three lockout positions to give you better control on your start and stop positions. All you need to do is fold in the handrails to perform the exercise and fold it out when you’re done.

The weight sled slides down real smoothly thanks to its linear bearings. So, you can be sure that when your gym bro yells, “It’s all you, bro!”, it really is.

BOTTOM LINE
I think in any top list of the best gym equipment, as long as they make it, Titan Fitness would be included. That’s because they are able to produce high-quality machines at a very low cost, which is a balancing act not every manufacturer can accomplish.

The Titan Fitness Leg Press + Hack Squat combo gives you perhaps the greatest value among any of the machines in this list. It is durable, low-cost, smooth moving, and easy to assemble.

3– BEST DESIGN: Body-Solid Leg Press & Hack Squat

SPECIFICATIONS:

  • Dimensions: 83 x 34 x 56” (DWH)
  • Build Quality: 11-gauge steel mainframe, thick-gauge platforms, 4” thick DuraFirm ergonomic pads
  • Adjustability/Safety Features: 3 lockout positions, flip-and-lock mechanism on both seats/back pads
  • Weights and Weight Capacity: 2 weight horns, 1000-pound max capacity
WHAT WE LIKEWHAT WE DON’T LIKE
✅ Ergonomic seat pads❌ Olympic-style plates only
✅ Slim design❌ No weight holders
✅ Quad track roller system❌ Most expensive on the list

The Body-Solid Leg Press and Hack Squat machine is a great home or commercial gym equipment to have.

First, it has a lifetime warranty on all parts for in-home use. And, for commercial use, the frame, welds, and guide rods have a lifetime warranty while the pulleys, bearings, and hardware have a 3-year warranty.

It has ultra-tough, double-stitched, 4-inch thick back pads for maximum support. Plus, these pads are contoured to give maximum comfort while you push heavy weight. All the discomfort is where it should be — your quad, glutes, or calves.

It has the smoothest motion among all the leg machines in this list, thanks to its quad track roller system. It seamlessly glides on the guide rods, putting all the tension on the muscles you are working on.

This 11-gauge steel-built machine gives you great stability and durability. While it is heavy-duty, the machine is easy to adjust when switching from leg press to hack squats because of the flip-and-lock mechanism.

Among all its features, its slim and dense design and contoured pads make it the most aesthetic leg press and hack combo machine. There’s no need for overly thick steel posts when you use tough-grade steel.

Plus, this leg combo machine can take up to 1000-pounds worth of weights. So, there’s always room for improvement with the Body-Solid Leg Press and Hack Squat.

But, I would’ve liked to see more weight holders, for working out and for storage. The two weight holders on the sled won’t seem to be able to hold a thousand pounds’ worth of plates.

BOTTOM LINE
If you have the dollars to spend, or should I say invest, on your health, this Body-Solid leg combo machine is a great piece of lower body exercise equipment. 

It was designed for both function and aesthetics. It is built for heavy lifting without being bulky or intimidating to use.

4– BEST COMPACT: Hoist Fitness Leg Press Hack Combo

SPECIFICATIONS:

  • Dimensions: 83 x 30 x 56” (DWH)
  • Build Quality: Compact design, 4 nylon wheels with carriage needle bearings
  • Adjustability/Safety Features: 3 lockout positions, large and easy to reach handrails, detachable backrest, height-adjustable bottom footplate
  • Weights, and Weight Capacity: 2 weight holders, 720-pound max capacity
WHAT WE LIKEWHAT WE DON’T LIKE
✅ Space-saving❌ Low max weight capacity
✅ Oversized platform for hack squats❌ Small footplate for leg pressing
✅ Integrated calf block

Hoist Fitness is known for their great compact designs that do not sacrifice poundage nor quality. It uses 

Their Leg Press and Hack Combo is a space-saving combo leg machine that can easily fit a corner of a room or a crammed garage gym. Despite its narrow construction, it has an oversized hack squat platform so you can play around with stances and get the most muscle activation.

The weight sled slides smoothly thanks to its four nylon wheels that use carriage needle bearings. A heavily-loaded sled will glide down easily. Thus, your legs carry all the weight, without help from the friction of the sled with the guideposts.

The leg press platform that doubles as the hack squat seat is height and angle adjustable. So, you can experiment with depth and angles and find your sweet spot for maximum gains.

It only has one back pad for the leg press and hack. It is detachable, which can be a bit time-consuming, but it is easy to attach on the sled or the stationary platform.

This machine has the standard three lockout positions. One neat feature, though, is the calf block integrated into the weight sled. Although, they could have simply put a larger footplate for the leg press position and achieved the same purpose, with better adjustability for stance.

I would have liked to see longer weight horns to increase this leg machine’s max weight capacity. But, with 6 plates being able to fit each side for a total of 12, it’s not entirely a bad thing.

BOTTOM LINE
Hoist Fitness’ compact Leg Press and Hack Combo is a good choice for people that have little room to utilize in their gyms but lack this basic leg building equipment. It may have a small footprint but is designed to take on the biggest gym challenge of them all — leg days.

Other Leg Machines to Consider

Legend Fitness Plate-Loaded Leg Press/Hack Squat

This is more of a commercial-grade hack squat and leg press combo. It is big and bulky, because it is made for everyday, heavy poundage. This leg machine is oversized in everything, from the frame to footplates to pads.

It is made for advanced and heavyweight lifters or those tall and/or wide. Or, if you own a private fitness club, then this machine is definitely worth considering.

Everything is welded together so you won’t have to worry about it squeaking or swaying. This machine is as rigid as they come.

Bolt Fitness Leg Press Hack Squat Combo

This leg machine is both flashy and heavy-duty. Aesthetically speaking, this machine will definitely stand out in the array of fitness equipment you already have. It has a steel laser-cut logo on the sides with a slick black powder coat finish.

Its best feature though is the 4 weight carrying posts attached at the top and bottom of the weight sled. And, carrying those 4 posts are 2 diagonal pillars on each side. Why? Because this machine can take up to 2000 pounds of weight!

Yes, you read that right. So, if you are trying to be like Mr. Olympia or World’s Strongest Man on the leg press, this would be the machine for you.

Final Thoughts

Now you know the whats, whys, whos, and hows of a leg press and hack squat combo machine. You also know which ones are the best in terms of overall quality, cost and value, design, and size.

With that wealth of information, I am confident that you can choose which leg press and hack machine is the best for you to scream “Lightweight, babyyyy!” in, ala Ronnie Coleman.

FAQs

Which is better: hack squat or leg press?

Both the hack squat and leg press machine maximally stimulate your quad muscle and glutes.

This boils down to personal preference. Do you prefer standing up or sitting down while smashing your quads to oblivion?

An even better would be: do both leg press and hack squat on your push-focused leg days to get the most gains.

What muscles do hack squats work?

The hack squats primarily work the quadriceps, aka all the muscles in the front of your thigh. 

Since it is a standing exercise, it also works to some degree the core muscles to stabilize the body during the lift.

What muscles does leg press work?

The leg press works the quadriceps the most. This is because it is the legs’ main push muscle group, regardless of foot position.

However, you can alter your position to recruit the glutes more by moving your feet up higher on the platform or footplate.

Why is the hack squat so hard?

The hack squat is hard because it puts the quads in the most biased position. This means the quads are worked in its maximal range of motion, from extension to flexion. Thus, you cannot cheat or ego lift your way with it — you are actually lifting the weight, not just bouncing or half-repping it.

Imad Deryan

My name is Imad, and I struggled to gain mass in the past due to my metabolism and being very skinny. In this blog, I share the best reviews and advice when it comes to gaining weight and mass, for all the people that are struggling like I was.

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