The squat is a compound, or multi-joint, movement that involves the two largest muscle groups of the body -- quadriceps and gluteus maximus. The former muscle works to extend the knee, the latter muscle works to extend the hip. Beginners often find it difficult to perform squats using free weights, due to the complexity of the movement. These trainees should practice the movement using a machine, such as the Smith machine or the hack front squat machine. When using a Smith machine, you are mimicking the traditional back squat. When using a hack front squat machine, you are mimicking the front squat exercise.
Smith Machine Squat
Stand in front of the Smith machine bar, facing away from it.
Position your upper back and rear shoulder region under the bar and grasp the bar using a grip a bit wider than shoulder-width.
Dismount the bar from the machine rack and stand with your body upright and your feet a bit wider than shoulder-width.
Bend your hips and knees to lower the bar until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
Extend your hips and knees to raise the bar until your body is upright.
Machine Hack Front Squat
Stand on the machine platform facing toward the machine.
Position your shoulders under the machine pads and grasp the machine handles for support.
Dismount the machine leverage and stand with your body upright and stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width on the platform.
Lower the machine pads by bending your hips and knees until your thighs are parallel to the platform.
Raise the machine pads by extending your hips and knees until your body is upright.
- You can do both variations of the squat exercise during the same leg workout. The Smith machine squat targets both the quadriceps and the gluteus maximus to a large degree. The machine hack front squat primarily targets the quadriceps, with less emphasis on the gluteus maximus to the lesser degree of hip extension that occurs during the movement. Do three sets of each exercise and 10 to 12 repetitions per set.
- When performing the Smith machine squat, do not position your feet too far out in front of your body. This can cause injury over time due to the restricted range of motion.
Richard Choueiri is a fitness and nutrition expert and the author of "The Human Statue Workout." He began writing professionally in 2007 and his work has been featured in Bodybuilding.com and "Physique Magazine." Choueiri studied exercise science and nutritional science at Rutgers University. He holds an American College of Sports Medicine CPT, and a National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association CMMACC.