V Squat [How To Do, Muscle Worked, Benefits, Alternate]

The V Squat, often referred to as the “Vertical Leg Press” or “V Squat Machine,” is a piece of specialist exercise equipment used in the gym to target the lower body’s muscles, especially the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes.

Similar to a standard leg press machine, but with a vertical movement pattern as opposed to a horizontal one.

In this leg exercise guide, we will go over:

  • What are v-squats?
  • Muscle worked by v squat
  • How to do it correctly?
  • V squat variations

What Is A V Squat Exercise?

The V-Squat is a compound leg exercise done on a piece of equipment in the gym called the V-Squat machine. It enables regulated and guided squats while supporting your back and legs as you push.

The V-Squat machine typically has a foot platform where you stand and handles or pads to support your upper body.

V Squats Muscle Worked:

The V-Squat is an excellent compound exercise that targets multiple muscles in the lower body.

Let’s take a closer look at the key muscles worked during this exercise:

Primary Muscles:

1. Quadriceps (Quads) 

During the V-Squat, the quads play a vital role in stabilizing the movement as you lower down, ensuring that your knees stay aligned and don’t collapse inward.

As you push upwards in the second half of the lift, the quads engage to extend the knee joint, powering you back to the starting position.

2. Gluteus Maximus

While it has various functions, during the V-Squat, its primary focus is on hip extension.

As you push upwards from the squatting position, the glute maximus contracts to straighten the hips, bringing your body back to an upright stance.

Secondary Muscles:

1. Hamstrings

Located at the back of the thighs, they assist in controlling knee flexion during the downward phase.

As you lower your body, the hamstrings lengthen and help control the movement.

2. Calves

They assist in maintaining balance and preventing excessive ankle movement.

3. Core Muscles:

A strong core is essential for maintaining proper form and preventing unnecessary strain on the lower back.

4. Adductors and Abductors

The adductor muscles on the inside of the thighs and the abductor muscles on the outside play a stabilizing role during the V-Squat, helping to maintain proper alignment of the legs.

How To Do V Squat Correctly: Step By Step

Now, let’s focus on the correct technique for performing V-squats:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart on the foot platform and position your back firmly against the backrest. Maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement.
  2. Adjust the backrest to a comfortable angle, ensuring that your torso is aligned with your legs.
  3. As you descend, concentrate on pushing your knees forward while keeping your torso upright. This movement will maximize knee flexion, directly targeting the quads.
  4. Avoid allowing your hips to roll under, known as a “butt wink,” at the bottom of the squat. This prevents excessive stress on your lower back and maintains proper form.
  5. Lower yourself as far as possible without compromising your form. Ensure you can maintain a neutral spine and avoid the butt wink mentioned earlier.

Benefits of doing V-Squats

Mastering the V-squat with the correct technique offers several benefits:

  • Enhanced Quad Development: By emphasizing knee flexion and maintaining a vertical torso, you actively engage your quadriceps, leading to better quad development.
  • Reduced Lower Back Strain: Flipping the machine and avoiding the butt wink reduces the strain on your lower back, making the exercise safer and more effective.
  • Versatility: The V-squat machine allows you to target different muscle groups by adjusting your body positioning, providing versatility in your leg workout routine.

Alternatives To V-Squat

1. Pendulum Squat Exercise


2. Plie Squat

The plie squat is a wide-stance squat variation similar to a sumo deadlift. The lifter opens their hips and externally rotates them, allowing the knees to align with the toes.

Holding a weight in front of the body, the lifter squats down while maintaining an upright torso, targeting the quadriceps.

3. Goblet Squat

The goblet squat involves holding a kettlebell or dumbbell close to the chest in a “goblet” position and then performing a squat.

The weight in front of the body helps maintain an upright torso, emphasizing the quadriceps and minimizing stress on the back.

4.  Hatfield Squat

The Hatfield squat is a powerlifting movement performed with a safety squat bar and a racked barbell. This exercise is done by holding the barbell while the safety squat bar rests on the back.

The movement involves squatting down with an upright torso, targeting the quadriceps while sparing the lower back.

5.  Belt Squat

The belt squat is a versatile exercise using a loading mechanism attached to a belt around your waist.

This allows for various squat variations, including hack squats, with the added benefit of minimizing stress on the back.

6. Leg Extensions

Leg extensions are isolation exercises performed on a machine that specifically targets the quadriceps. This exercise helps build strength and size in the front of the thighs.

Traditional V-Squat Vs. Machine Reverse V Squat

In the normal V-squat machine, you naturally push your hips further back as you descend, leading to more hip flexion and less knee flexion.

While this is great for building glutes, it’s not ideal if you want to focus on your quads. To target the quads more effectively, consider flipping the machine around.

By flipping the V-squat machine, you gain control over the torso angle, allowing you to push your knees forward and maintain a more vertical torso.

This modification ensures a greater degree of knee flexion, effectively engaging the quads during the exercise.


Incorporate the V-squat into your leg workout routine and enjoy the benefits of powerful and well-developed quads. 

References & Resources:

  1. Harvard Medical School. (2019, January 1). Are your hamstrings working double duty? Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved January 20, 2023, from <https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/are-your-hamstrings-working-double-duty>
  2. M. R. Rhea, “Determining the magnitude of treatment effects in strength training research through the use of the effect size,” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, vol. 18, no. 4, pp. 918–920, 2004.
  3. K. Bloomquist, H. Langberg, S. Karlsen, S. Madsgaard, M. Boesen, and T. Raastad, “Effect of range of motion in heavy load squatting on muscle and tendon adaptations,” European Journal of Applied Physiology, vol. 113, no. 8, pp. 2133–2142, 2013.
  4. Knapp, Sarah. “Hip Muscles – The Definitive Guide.” Biology Dictionary, 27 June 2020. Accessed 16 April 2023. <https://biologydictionary.net/hip-muscles/>
Hassane Sghir
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