Hack Squat Vs Pendulum Squat: The Best One?

Squat variations are essential components of leg training and can significantly impact the muscles targeted during the exercise.

The Hack Squat and the Pendulum Squat are two important options to start with.

In this leg exercise comparison, we will look at:

  • What Is Pendulum Squat?
  • What Is Hack Squat?
  • Benefits of Each One.
  • Pendulum Squat Vs Hack Squat: What are the key differences?
  • How to combine the two to maximize the gains?

So, let’s get into the details!

What Is Pendulum Squat (An Efficient Quad-Building Machine)

The Pendulum Squat is a machine-based exercise that provides a built-in awesome profile for efficient muscle training.

Unlike other squats that maintain a constant resistance profile, the Pendulum Squat increases torque and load as you reach the top position.

This means you can effectively push your muscles over a full range of motion.

Pendulum Squat Exercise

Advantages of the Pendulum Squat:

  • Improved Resistance Profile: The moment arms in the Pendulum Squat change throughout the movement, resulting in increased resistance at the top compared to the bottom. This allows you to work harder and efficiently target your quads during the exercise.
  • Ankle Mobility Friendly: The design of the Pendulum Squat makes it less demanding on ankle mobility.
    This is especially beneficial for individuals with limited ankle flexibility, as they can achieve better depth without discomfort.

Related Comparison: Hack Squat Vs. V Squat (All The Differences)

What Is Hack Squat (A Classic Quad-Building Exercise)

The Hack Squat is a traditional free-weight or machine-based exercise that targets the quads, hamstrings, and glutes.

It involves placing your feet on a platform and pushing the weight up through your legs.

Hack Squat Execise for Bigger Quadriceps

Advantages of the Hack Squat:

  • Versatility: Hack Squats can be performed using free weights or on a hack squat machine, making them accessible in most gyms.
    They are versatile and can be adjusted according to your strength level.
  • Focus on Quad and Glute Development: Hack Squats work well in targeting both the quads and glutes.
    By placing your feet higher on the platform, you can emphasize quadriceps development, while a lower foot position targets the glutes more.

Alternative Workout: V Squat (ULTIMATE Guide)

Hack Squat Vs Pendulum Squat: The Main Differences

Both the Hack Squat and the Pendulum Squat are excellent exercises for targeting the quads and building lower body strength.

However, they have some key differences in their execution and muscle engagement.

1. Resistance

Hack Squat:

The Hack Squat machine provides constant resistance throughout the movement.

The weight remains the same at all points of the exercise, making it easier at the top and harder at the bottom due to the changing moment arms.

Pendulum Squat:

The Pendulum Squat, on the other hand, offers a unique resistance profile.

As you descend into the squat, the moment arm increases, making the weight feel heavier at the top.

This challenges your muscles more evenly throughout the range of motion, providing a greater demand on the quads.

2. Ankle Mobility

Hack Squat:

Ankle mobility is crucial for proper form in the Hack Squat. If your ankle mobility is limited, it can be challenging to achieve a full range of motion and may place undue stress on the knees and lower back.

Pendulum Squat:

The Pendulum Squat is generally more ankle mobility-friendly. As the back pad pivots during the movement, it allows for a more comfortable and deeper squat position without compromising form.

3. Efficiency and Adjustment:

Hack Squat:

The Hack Squat machine often requires additional alterations, such as using bands, to optimize its resistance profile and target the quads more effectively.

It might take some trial and error to find the ideal foot placement and angle for your specific body mechanics.

Pendulum Squat:

One of the significant advantages of the Pendulum Squat is its built-in effective resistance profile.

With no need for band attachments or extra adjustments, the machine naturally challenges the quads throughout the exercise.

4. Muscle Activation:

Hack Squat:

The Hack Squat primarily targets the quads but also involves the glutes and hamstrings to a lesser extent.

The emphasis on the quads can vary based on foot placement and back angle.

Pendulum Squat:

The Pendulum Squat specifically targets the quads and minimizes the involvement of other muscle groups due to its well-designed resistance profile and ankle mobility advantages.

Combining Pendulum and Hack Squats

For a comprehensive leg training routine that maximizes quad development, consider incorporating both Pendulum and Hack Squats into your workouts.

The Pendulum Squat’s unique resistance profile and ankle mobility advantages provide an excellent foundation for targeting the quads.

On the other hand, the Hack Squat’s versatility and emphasis on stabilization complement the overall leg workout.

I suggest starting with Pendulum Squats to warm up and pre-fatigue the quads, followed by Hack Squats to further challenge the muscles and engage stabilizers.

Doing both exercises in the same session can create a powerful synergy, leading to well-rounded leg development.


Can I combine Pendulum Squats and Hack Squats in the same leg session?

Yes, you can definitely combine Pendulum Squats and Hack Squats in the same workout to target different muscle groups and maximize your leg training session.

Combining these exercises can add variety to your routine and provide a more comprehensive lower body workout.

You can perform them in a superset or circuit format, where you alternate between the two exercises with minimal rest, or you can do them in separate sets within the same workout.

How can I increase my Pendulum Squat and Hack Squat?

To continually challenge your muscles and facilitate muscle growth, you can progress your Pendulum Squat and Hack Squat workouts in several ways. One way is to increase the resistance by adding more weight to the exercises.

Gradually increasing the weight will create a progressive overload, stimulating muscle growth and strength gains.

Is pendulum squat the same as hack squat?

No, the Pendulum Squat and Hack Squat are not the same exercises. They are distinct variations of the squat movement that target the legs differently.

The Pendulum Squat is performed on a machine with a diagonal motion, targeting the quads. It involves standing on a platform that moves back as you descend, isolating the quadriceps and developing strength in the front of the thighs.

On the other hand, the Hack Squat is done on a machine at a 45-degree angle, targeting quads, hamstrings, and glutes, with more emphasis on glutes and hamstrings compared to traditional squats.

References & Resources:

  1. Jakobsen TL, Jakobsen MD, Andersen LL, Husted H, Kehlet H, Bandholm T. Quadriceps muscle activity during commonly used strength training exercises shortly after total knee arthroplasty: implications for home-based exercise-selection. J Exp Orthop. 2019 Jul 2;6(1):29. doi: 10.1186/s40634-019-0193-5. PMID: 31267365; PMCID: PMC6606685.
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0531556518307952
  3. Schwarz, N.A.; Harper, S.P.; Waldhelm, A.; McKinley-Barnard, S.K.; Holden, S.L.; Kovaleski, J.E. A Comparison of Machine versus Free-Weight Squats for the Enhancement of Lower-Body Power, Speed, and Change-of-Direction Ability during an Initial Training Phase of Recreationally-Active Women. Sports 2019, 7, 215. https://doi.org/10.3390/sports7100215
  4. Erdağ, Deniz & Yavuz, Hasan. (2020). Evaluation of Muscle Activities During Different Squat Variations Using Electromyography Signals. 10.1007/978-3-030-35249-3_114.
Hassane Sghir
Follow Us

Leave a Comment