Squats are a popular type of gym and at-home exercise. Squats can certainly help you build muscle but how many calories do squats burn?
The squat is one of the typical gym weight lifting exercises but you can also do this exercise with just your bodyweight. Altough this exercise is mainly to build muscle, you will also burn some calories during the workout.
While the exact number of calories burned with squats varies from individual to individual, the average person can expect to burn around 89-152 calories per 15 minutes of bodyweight squats at a moderate intensity.
This article will also show you a more detailed chart that takes multiple factors into account and ways to increase the number of calories burned with squats.
The number of calories burned with squats while carrying external weights is very hard to predict.
Another thing you have to keep in mind is that a lot of the calorie-burning from squats comes from the extra muscle mass you build. The number of extra calories burned because of this is hard to quantify accurately since this is a change over days, weeks, and even months.
All in all, squats with external weights are one of the best exercises to burn a lot of calories in the long-term without spending a lot of time working out.
Biggest factors in calories burned with squats
A fact that many people find annoying is that the number of calories you burn while doing something like squats is hard to predict correctly. This fact can make things like weight loss feel like a guessing game.
Even so, good estimations can be a helpful starting point. By taking a few important factors into account you can make your estimations more accurate.
Some of the biggest factors that influence how many calories you burn with squats include:
- Weight: To move around your body needs energy, measured in calories. The more you weigh, the more energy you need to fuel movement.
- Body composition: Body composition is how much of your body weight is made up of different tissue. Two people can weigh the same but for one individual most of the weight can come from fat while the second individual has a lot of muscle. The reason that is important is that the same weight of muscle requires more energy than that weight in fat.
- Intensity: If you’re looking at calories burned per minute of squats this can vary a lot by going at a fast vs slow pace.
- External weight: The squat is an exercise that is done both with just bodyweight and external weights. These external weights can make it so you are squatting twice the weight compared to without external weights. The external weight has a big influence on calories burned.
Hidden calorie burning from squats
There are many other aspects that make it even harder to put how many calories you burn with squats into an exact number. This includes the fact that the calorie-burning effects of squats are not limited to during the workout.
As mentioned, how much you weigh plays a relatively big role in how many calories you burn. This doesn’t just apply to your workout, this is also the case during everyday activities.
Chances are that by doing squats you also build muscle mass. Especially if you do squats with heavy weights. Your leg muscles are one of the biggest muscle groups in your body so there is a lot of potential there to build a lot of muscle mass.
This extra muscle mass will help you burn more calories day in, day out. It is however extremely hard to put this amount into a specific number.
Doing a heavy weight lifting workout can also cause something called “afterburn”. This is basically having an increased metabolism for a while after you stop doing the exercise.
Estimations for calories burned wtih squats usually don’t take into account these long-term effects.
Chart of squats calorie-burning estimations
The centers for disease control and prevention simplifies the number of calories burned with weight training into between 3.5-7 calories per minute (1). And vigorous effort calisthenics, bodyweight exercises, in more than 7 calories per minute. Squats can fit in both of these categories. In reality there are tools to make more precise estimations.
To calculate calories burned during certain exercises more specifically you can use a formula with MET values. A MET value is an exercise-specific value to indicate how intense a specific type of workout is.
You can use this in the following formula: METs x 3.5 x (your body weight in kilograms) / 200 = calories burned per minute
Estimations for METs for squats vary from 3 for moderate effort weight lifting to 6 for vigorous effort weight lifting. (2). The below chart will show you estimations for vigorous effort weight lifting which should come closest to the intensity of doing squats.
You can look at the number of calories burned with squats from different perspectives. Below you can find charts about calories burned doing squats per time intervals and the number of calories burned with certain amounts of squats.
Again keep in mind that these are estimations. This formula doesn’t take into account certain factors that do influence calories burned with squats. It’s hard to imagine that squatting with external weights as heavy as your bodyweight won’t burn more calories.
To put these calorie amounts into perspective, 100 grams of boiled potatoes contains about 87 calories (3).
Calories burned with squats per time interval
One of the most convenient ways to see how many calories you burned while doing squats is looking at how much time you spent doing it.
|1 Minute||15 Minutes||30 Minutes||45 Minutes||60 Minutes|
|125 Pounds (56 kg)||6 calories||89 calories||177 calories||266 calories||354 calories|
|155 Pounds (70 kg)||7 calories||110 calories||220 calories||330 calories||439 calories|
|185 Pounds (83 kg)||9 calories||131 calories||262 calories||393 calories||524 calories|
|215 Pounds (97 kg)||10 calories||152 calories||305 calories||457 calories||610 calories|
Calories burned with squats per repetition amounts
In some situations you can be more focused on the actual number of repetitions instead of the time you spent doing squats.
These numbers are estimations for a person doing about 40 bodyweight squats a minute.
|10 Squats||50 Squats||100 Squats||500 Squats||1000 Squats|
|125 Pounds (56 kg)||1 calories||7 calories||15 calories||74 calories||148 calories|
|155 Pounds (70 kg)||2 calories||9 calories||18 calories||92 calories||183 calories|
|185 Pounds (83 kg)||2 calories||11 calories||22 calories||109 calories||219 calories|
|215 Pounds (97 kg)||3 calories||13 calories||25 calories||127 calories||254 calories|
Ways to burn more calories with squats
The number of calories burned with squats is certainly not something set in stone. There are a few ways you can increase this amount per minute of squats or per repetition.
The challenge for most people is fitting in workouts in their busy schedule. They want to burn as many calories in the least amount of time. If that’s your goal you want to burn more calories in for example one minute of squats.
A straightforward way to do this is increasing the number of repetitions you do in that minute by simply doing your squats faster.
On the other hand, you can also burn more calories per squat by making one repetition harder by carrying extra external weight. You can also use this modification to burn more calories per minute.
With these powerful modifications, you can burn more calories wtih squatting.
How long does it take to see results from squats?
One pound of body fat is about 3500 calories (one kg +-8000). How long it takes to see weight loss results from squats will also depend on the number of calories in your diet.
One person might eat more than the other. This might make it so they need to exercise longer or more intense to see the same weight loss results. You can even lose weight without exercising so there are many factors that influence it.
15 minutes of squats a day could help you burn an extra 1100 calories in 10 days which is about 0.31 pounds of body fat. 30 days 3300 calories and so on…
The problem with these numbers is that they are estimations for during the squats. In reality a lot of the calorie-burning power is in the extra muscle mass you will build so you can expect faster results.
Keep in mind that losing weight too fast can be harmful. In general, a 500 calorie deficit per day is considered to be a healthy weight loss rate.
Should you do squats for calorie burning?
Squats, especially squats with external weights, are one of the best exercises to build a lot of muscle mass. Your legs are one the biggest muscle groups you have.
This extra muscle mass in turn helps you burn more calories every second of the day. On top of that you can also burn a decent number of calories during the squat workout itself.
Another upside is that if you do squats with external weights you really don’t have to work out that long to see good muscle mass growth. This makes squats a rather efficient exercise to burn a lot of calories while working out a short amount of time.
On the other hand for weighted squats you likely have to go to your gym. This may require extra time and thus make it slightly harder to fit in squats into your daily schedule.
If as much calorie-burning as possible in the least amount of time spent exercising is your goal, squats with external weights can be a very good choice. To build the most muscle mass you want to do about 4 sets of 10-40 squats depending on how advanced you are.
If you are interested in a no-equipment exercise to work out your leg muscles, something like lunges can be more effective.
Keep in mind that the things you eat stay important no matter what exercise routine you’re following. It’s hard to out-exercise a bad diet.