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Dumbbell Hack Squat

This is just a an insight into an 'alternative' exercise I have used when training people as a bit of fun and a challenge; be open minded and maybe throw it in at the end of a legs day! For those training at home with barbell and dumbbells or those who simply want an end of session blow out and they don't have machines or a spotter here is something a little different!

Barbell squats are the king of leg exercises, period. I am not for one moment suggesting you drop squats out your plan in favour of the exercise detailed below; it's simply an additional movement to add into your plan if it fits. Whilst squats are the undisputed quad movement by many in the iron game the 'secondary' quad exercises are more hotly debated. For pure quad development leg extension is out of the question regardless of any data collected on it stating fibre recruitment. The 45 degree leg press is an alternative, as is the hack squat machine. Is this exercise a possible replacement for those listed above? The jury is still out, but have a go and see what you think.

Squats never leave the plan on legs day; I need to hammer this home! Add in barbell stiff-legged deadlifts and we need at least one more heavy compound to complete the plan before calf raises. I hear most of you shout lunges, step ups or split squats "where are they?" Lunges are great whether it's with a barbell or dumbbells but for every 10 guys I find enjoy them equally as many complain about them. Should you get the technique right and persist? Should you focus on balance and posture? Well that's another day, same with dumbbell split squats and step ups. The age old "bad knee syndrome" also arises with the exercises mentioned. That debate is beyond the scope of this piece and I simply want to bring something different to the table to get you thinking.

It's called the 'Stability ball dumbbell hack squat'

I am going to break this down stage by stage so you can picture it in your head. You simply need to gather a set of dumbbells (which will be lighter than you might have originally thought) one of those large 'abs' stability Swiss balls and finally two Reebok decks or steps with adjustable legs on them. Follow the steps below when setting up!

* Find a wall

* Get a hard stability ball (well inflated)

* Place your lower back against the ball

* Place the ball against the wall with approx a one foot gap between floor and ball

* Select two dumbbells to suit (using straps if required)

* Find two Reebok decks or 'steps'

* Full extend the legs one end, have the other end as low as possible

* This then gives you a ramp

* The low end of the step sits against the wall below the stability ball

* Walk up the ~30 degree rise into a position similar to that of a hack squat

* On the first rep pick the dumbbells up when you are at the lowest point of the squat

* Keep arms straight holding dumbbells

* Squat using the ball to roll down the wall just before the dumbbells touch the floor

* Complete full deep reps without using lower back power

This exercise can be replicated without a spotter and at home and provides a hard compound movement recruiting quads, hamstrings and glutes. As stated previously, I am not advocating you rush out and do this; it's simply something to keep in mind if you fancy a change sometime!

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