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  1. #1
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    Hack Squats - EliteFTS vs. Watson vs. Atlantis

    I'm in the market for a hack squat and I think I've narrowed it down to these three brands.

    I really like the adjustable angle (30-70 degrees) and adjustable foot plate on the Watson one, however, the carriage is insanely heavy and the safety hooks are at an awkwardly high or low height for me (there are two sets) which is slightly annoying. Shipping from the UK is also a pain point although I do plan to order a Watson Animal Row anyhow, so perhaps one more unit wouldn't be that bad.

    I spent some time on the EliteFTS one at Saiyan and was really impressed by it - nice padding, good mechanics for me with the safety height etc. However, it is absolutely massive.

    I've never actually found an Atlantis one but am thinking about making a trip up to Montreal but I'm not sure what advantage it would have over the EliteFTS one I've already tried other than maybe being a bit small.

    Clearly right now I'm inclined to go with EliteFTS - any counter points? If I do go with EliteFTS, I'm thinking of ordering their Power Squat in the same order so same question on that unit and curious on the groups thoughts whether it is worth having both a hack and a power squat in <2K square foot space.
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  2. #2
    Registered User smokinHawk's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Afo3 View Post
    I'm in the market for a hack squat and I think I've narrowed it down to these three brands.

    I really like the adjustable angle (30-70 degrees) and adjustable foot plate on the Watson one, however, the carriage is insanely heavy and the safety hooks are at an awkwardly high or low height for me (there are two sets) which is slightly annoying. Shipping from the UK is also a pain point although I do plan to order a Watson Animal Row anyhow, so perhaps one more unit wouldn't be that bad.

    I spent some time on the EliteFTS one at Saiyan and was really impressed by it - nice padding, good mechanics for me with the safety height etc. However, it is absolutely massive.

    I've never actually found an Atlantis one but am thinking about making a trip up to Montreal but I'm not sure what advantage it would have over the EliteFTS one I've already tried other than maybe being a bit small.

    Clearly right now I'm inclined to go with EliteFTS - any counter points? If I do go with EliteFTS, I'm thinking of ordering their Power Squat in the same order so same question on that unit and curious on the groups thoughts whether it is worth having both a hack and a power squat in <2K square foot space.
    I have the arsenal strength (nebula) haack squat. I bought it then later tried the elitefts one. I lined the elitefts one better. The large foot plate is nice, I end up wanting to go wider or further up on my current. Plus easy hook up for bands. Only problem would be fitting it in my space as its already cramped.
    I plan to modify the foot plate on my arsenal one.
    If you can fit it in your space get the elitefts
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  3. #3
    Registered User Afo3's Avatar
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    Thanks, Jonathan! It will come at the expense of something else (probably some future Panatta gear) but appreciate the confirmation on the EliteFTS one.

    Your gym is totally an inspiration. As we finalize our next house, we are deciding between a few places with 1200-1600 square feet of garage space so its been very helpful to see what you've done in your setups.

    Originally Posted by smokinHawk View Post
    I have the arsenal strength (nebula) haack squat. I bought it then later tried the elitefts one. I lined the elitefts one better. The large foot plate is nice, I end up wanting to go wider or further up on my current. Plus easy hook up for bands. Only problem would be fitting it in my space as its already cramped.
    I plan to modify the foot plate on my arsenal one.
    If you can fit it in your space get the elitefts
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    Registered User nnclark11's Avatar
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    All great looking pieces. I have been intrigued by the Watson hack for a while and would love to find someone who has used to get their take. Atlantis footplate just looks small though the 30 degree angle is a much better angle than most hack squats.
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    Registered User Afo3's Avatar
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    Why is a 30 degree angle better? Sorry for the dumb question but I'm more a recovering crossfitter than being deeply knowledgeable about machines.

    If so, that seems to favor the Watson some too since it can get to that angle. I thought it was fairly nice in my two sessions with it (once at Watson, once at Saiyan) but Saiyan had the EliteFTS side by side and I felt the padding had a much nicer feel and the oversized foot plate was nice. However, the sled was insanely heavy which I thought might be a downside if I ever wanted it for commercial use with general population and the safety catches were all at just the wrong heights for me (granted I'm quite short).


    Originally Posted by nnclark11 View Post
    All great looking pieces. I have been intrigued by the Watson hack for a while and would love to find someone who has used to get their take. Atlantis footplate just looks small though the 30 degree angle is a much better angle than most hack squats.
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    Registered User Afo3's Avatar
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    Ended up going with the EliteFTS one during their equipment sale. Will update the group once I have it for a bit.

    I did also re-try both the EliteFTS and the Watson adjustable one side-by-side at Saiyan Strength last week. Padding on the EliteFTS one is much better on the shoulders to me, felt like I definitely made the right choice, especially given the freight for the EliteFTS one was <$300 vs. whatever ocean freight would be for Watson.
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    Originally Posted by Afo3 View Post
    Ended up going with the EliteFTS one during their equipment sale. Will update the group once I have it for a bit.

    I did also re-try both the EliteFTS and the Watson adjustable one side-by-side at Saiyan Strength last week. Padding on the EliteFTS one is much better on the shoulders to me, felt like I definitely made the right choice, especially given the freight for the EliteFTS one was <$300 vs. whatever ocean freight would be for Watson.
    Glad it worked out. Looking forward to pics for sure. I've never actually found a hack that I really liked. Closest was old Bodymasters.
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    Elite FTS hack looks like an absolute beast! Look forward to your review.
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    Registered User ArnoldHAMnEGGer's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Afo3 View Post
    Why is a 30 degree angle better?
    in my experience, 30 degree Hack Squat will place less stress on your lower back. That was my experience with my favorite Hack of all times, the Flex Fitness Hack Squat. I've used the Atlantis once in Laval and it good and nice, but not as good as the Flex. Nebula (now Arsenal) made a very smooth one as well but i'm pretty sure their Hack is 40 or 45 degrees.
    Last edited by ArnoldHAMnEGGer; 12-18-2019 at 11:49 AM.
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    Registered User Afo3's Avatar
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    Thanks for posting this. I realized I'm an idiot and one of the gyms I go to actually has a Flex Fitness Hack that I guess must be 30 degrees. I knew something felt different on it but honestly hadn't stepped back to look at the angle. I've only used it twice, will have to give it another shot. Less low back stress is definitely the goal here, doing everything I can to work around sciatica.

    Originally Posted by ArnoldHAMnEGGer View Post
    in my experience, 30 degree Hack Squat will place less stress on your lower back. That was my experience with my favorite Hack of all times, the Flex Fitness Hack Squat. I've used the Atlantis once in Laval and it good and nice, but not as good as the Flex. Nebula (now Arsenal) made a very smooth one as well but i'm pretty sure there Hack is 40 or 45 degrees.
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    The flex fitness hack is not 30 degrees. It is more like 40-45 degrees. It is a decent hack but I still feel too much in knees and lower back. Atlantis hack and Muscle D hack are the only ones I know that are actually 30 degrees. I have power lift full body squat which is more of a pivot movement but so much more effective and less strain on lower back.
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    So the Power Lift full body squat seems similar in motion to the Avenger leg press just with the movement happening by moving the sled (upper body) rather than the foot plate moving away from you?


    Originally Posted by nnclark11 View Post
    The flex fitness hack is not 30 degrees. It is more like 40-45 degrees. It is a decent hack but I still feel too much in knees and lower back. Atlantis hack and Muscle D hack are the only ones I know that are actually 30 degrees. I have power lift full body squat which is more of a pivot movement but so much more effective and less strain on lower back.
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    Registered User ArnoldHAMnEGGer's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by nnclark11 View Post
    The flex fitness hack is not 30 degrees. It is more like 40-45 degrees. It is a decent hack but I still feel too much in knees and lower back. Atlantis hack and Muscle D hack are the only ones I know that are actually 30 degrees. I have power lift full body squat which is more of a pivot movement but so much more effective and less strain on lower back.
    if there was a way to say this more kindly, i would but you're wrong. Even if you look at pictures comparing a Flex Hack and say, an Icarian Hack, you can see the angles are noticeably different. https://originfitness.com/star-trac-...t-plate-loaded this site says 35 degrees. Either i was off by 5 degrees or Stratrac(who absorbed Flex) changed the angle slightly.
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    Originally Posted by C123C View Post
    Glad it worked out. Looking forward to pics for sure. I've never actually found a hack that I really liked. Closest was old Bodymasters.
    That one was the best, of your referring to the one with the adjustable angle foot plate. I’ve been on he hunt for one for a long time now
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    Totally agree that icarian hack is different angle than flex. That being said flex hack angle isn't 30 degrees. I have used 30 degree hack and flex hack and definitely feels different. If the footplate went higher and wider on flex it would be even better. You may be right that it is 35 degrees. Whatever works for you! Anyone ever try tk star hack squat?
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    Registered User ArnoldHAMnEGGer's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by nnclark11 View Post
    Totally agree that icarian hack is different angle than flex. That being said flex hack angle isn't 30 degrees. I have used 30 degree hack and flex hack and definitely feels different. If the footplate went higher and wider on flex it would be even better. You may be right that it is 35 degrees. Whatever works for you! Anyone ever try tk star hack squat?
    Flex has been the only one that has been mildly kind to my back compression-wise. Of course, if you put enough weight on it (and any Hack for that matter), regardless of the angle, it will compress your spine. But even without weight or very light weight, the Flex felt a lot better on my back than any other Hack, with the exception of the Atlantis (which i only used once). Even so, i felt that the Flex moved more smoothly than the Atlantis. I suppose it comes down to personal preference, however, the angles are not really disputable. Not a ton of companies to my knowledge make a Hack that has a back angle less than 40 degrees (Flex, Atlantis, Muscle D which was Maxicam, possible Matrix, and Watson).
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    Bodymasters doesn't call this a hack squat but IMO, it fits into that grouping. I can't go heavy on a typical hack squat that has you laying flat with the pads on your shoulders as any that I tried killed my knees. The only difference I see with this BM model is you're bent at the waist. This machine forces your lower back into the pad so there's no lifting/rounding of your back and it is great on my knees. I like this machine better than any other leg press or hack squat I've owned or tried. It also uses less plates than any other leg presses I've used, so that's a plus as well.



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    Registered User ArnoldHAMnEGGer's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by irongrandpa View Post
    Bodymasters doesn't call this a hack squat but IMO, it fits into that grouping. I can't go heavy on a typical hack squat that has you laying flat with the pads on your shoulders as any that I tried killed my knees. The only difference I see with this BM model is you're bent at the waist. This machine forces your lower back into the pad so there's no lifting/rounding of your back and it is great on my knees. I like this machine better than any other leg press or hack squat I've owned or tried. It also uses less plates than any other leg presses I've used, so that's a plus as well.



    Atlantis, Hammer, and Precor also make this version of a Hack. IMO, Atlantis does it best. Theirs is very very smooth.
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