Forgotten Exercises: Gironda Hack Squats

For many lifters, myself included, the quads can be a notoriously difficult muscle to shape. It’s easy to add bulk and size, countless numbers of squats will suffice but where does the lifter turn when it comes time to refine, to sculpt and to define the thigh muscles?

Now past readers will no doubt be aware of my fondness for Vince Gironda, the influential bodybuilding coach of the mind century. Known as the ‘Iron Guru’ for good reason, Gironda was a maverick in terms of devising specialised exercises. His variations on dips, chin ups and bicep curls helped countless champions gain that competitive edge. Needless to say, I’m a fan boy.

Now recently my gym has gotten in a new hack squat machine and being the impressionable lifter that I am, I just had to use it. Done in the standard way, the hack squat is, in my view at least, a fantastic way of isolating the quads and hitting the VMO muscle in particular. That’s the teardrop muscle to you and me.


My fondness for my new gym toy spurred on my imagination. Now I knew that George Hackenschmidt had popularised the original hack squat, whereby lifters used a barbell behind their legs, a method I’d been using for several years. But when in doubt, I turn to the Iron Guru and as always, he did not let me know.

Behold the Gironda ‘Hack Slide’, a variation of the hack squat that I’ve found a fantastic addition to my Leg day routine. Placing the weight primarily on the balls of the feet, this exercise really helps to isolate the VMO above all else. My first time trying these had me hobbling around the next day, not the place you want to be when your daily commute is an hours cycle each way!

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Source: Vince Gironda, Definition Course (n/d), 11. 

Now before you throw yourself gung ho into this exercise, a few words of warning are in order. As someone who had to spend years improving his knee health, I beg you not to use this exercise if you exercise knee pain in any way shape or form. The strain placed on already fragile knees is not something I need to think about okay?

Secondly, ego goes out the door on this one. Take the weight you use for number hack squats and half it….then half it again and give it a go. Despite doing hack squats for a number of years, the old school way I might add, this exercise nevertheless humbled me. So go light to begin at least.

With my caveats out of the way, I’d humbly like to suggest a routine I’ve found particularly useful with this exercise.

  • Front Squats
  • Leg Curls
  • Back Squats
  • Dumbbell Romanian Deadlifts


  • Normal Hack Squats
  • Drop Set right into Hack Slides

Yes it’s a quad heavy routine but it’s brought up and sculpted my quads like nothing else.

But that’s enough from me. Have you used the Hack Slide before? If so let us know! Failing that let us know what you do to sculpt the quad muscles…

As always…Happy Lifting!

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