how many calories do squats burn

How Many Calories Do Squats Burn? Everything You Need to Know

For ages, fitness buffs have included squats in their workout routine. Why squats? This high intensity workout will help you tone your calves, hamstrings, and quads. Plus, it’s one of those exercises you can do with or without equipment.

How many calories do squats burn? The number of calories burned is determined by the duration of the exercise, and your body weight. Using the MET (metabolic equivalent) value, we are then able to calculate the number of calories burned. For example, if you weigh 180 pounds, a 5-minite squats session will see you burn around 57 calories.


 In this article you’ll learn how to calculate the calories you’ll burn, how to perform squats, which muscles are targeted in squats and more. So, let’s get started.

How many calories do squats burn? Complete Guide to Squating

Calculating Calories Burned doing squats

First, you need to have a quick look at the Metabolic Equivalent table

how many calories do squats burn

A low intensity workout refers to an exercise you do while performing other tasks such as reading, watching a movie, or while conversing. In the MET table this has a value of 3.5

High intensity workouts are vigorous. You’ll be out of breath during this routine. In the MET table has a value of 8.0

So, according to the Metabolic Equivalent table, low-intensity squats are a 3.5 while high-intensity squats are 8.0

You’ll note the MET table calculates in kgs, to convert you weight from pounds to kgs just divide your weight by 2.2

  • 180/2.2 = 82

To calculate the number of calories burned doing squats, you will take the MET value, multiply by your body weight, and after that multiply by 0.0175. Finally, take the answer and increase with the number of minutes you performed the squats.

  • MET x Bodyweight (Kgs) x 0.0175 x Time (minutes) = Calories burned

Note that the MET value in these calculations will vary from 3.5 to 8.0 depending on the intensity of the squats variations.

So from our above example of a 180-pound adult

  • 180/2.2 = 82

82 x 3.5 x 0.0175 = 5 calories per minute. So, for 5 minutes of low intensity squats you’ll burn 5 x 5 = 25 calories, for 10 minutes 5 x 10 = 50 calories, for 30 minutes 30 x 5 150 calories

For high intensity squats; 82 x 8 x 0.0175 = 12 calories per minute, 60 calories every 5 minutes, and 360 calories every 30 minutes

Here is another example of someone who weighs 220 lbs / 100 kgs


Low intensity

High intensity

1 minute

6 calories

14 calories

5 minutes

31 calories

70 calories

30 minutes

180 calories

420 calories




Also, these figures may have slight variations from one squat type to another. This is basically because squats are an exercise that has arguably the highest number of variations. Therefore, this will result in slight differences depending on the squats variation used to ascertain how many calories burned doing squats.

Calories Burned per Squat

calories burned per squat

An average person can burn eight calories in a minute. This is assumed that 25 squats are performed within one minute. This means that a single squat will burn 0.32 calories. So, what determines how many calories you burn?

Calories Burned in squats 

An array of factors determine this. The basic questions to answer are: How old are you? What’s your gender, body weight, height, and fitness level? Which variety of squats are you performing, and for how long? Only then can you determine the calories burned per squat. 

What Makes The Difference?

How many calories do squats burn? We all burn different amounts of calories when we perform squats. While you can burn 57 calories, another person may burn up to 130 calories performing the same exercise. Let us look at the determinants of this difference. 

  1. Age: How Older Are You?

 Your age makes a huge difference as to how many calories you will burn performing squats. The older you are, the lower the number of calories burned doing squats. As you grow old, your body tends to have more fats than muscles. This will make your body to crush calories at a lower rate than when you were younger. 

  1. Gender: Male VS Female

Being female or male is yet another factor that accounts for the variation in the amounts of calories burned doing squats—the female body stores more fats than males. Women, therefore, have more fats deposits that store energy used in reproductive functionalities. Having more fats will translate to low calories burned doing squats compared to men. 

  1. Intensity: Can You Talk as you Perform Squats?

How do you know that you are performing squats intensively? Simple, if you can still talk and sustain a conversation while performing squats, that is a low intensity workout. A high intensity squat workout may involve equipment such as sissy squat benches, barbells and more.

You will burn more calories than when performing simple bodyweight squats. Another way to increase intensity is by increasing the time you perform squats. You will burn more calories exercising for 15 minutes than when you did it for 5 minutes. 

  1. Weight: How Many Pounds Do You Weigh? 

People with more bodyweight will crush more calories doing squats than lighter people. More massive people will tend to lift more weight and subject the body to more intense workouts. Even when performing bodyweight squats, their weight will pose more resistance challenges than small bodies and lighter people.  

How to perform squats

how many calories do squats burn

Squats can either be done with bodyweight or with types of equipment. Most squats variations that involve weights and machines turn out to be very intensive. An excellent example of this is the barbell squats. This is arguably the most intense of them all.  

On the other hand, performing squats without extra weights or machines makes it far much less intensive. Equipment-free squats are variations in which you use your weight as a resistance challenge. 

Low-Intensity Squats: How to do 

Simple Body Weight Squats

Step 1: Proper Stance

Get in a straight standing position with your legs shoulder-width apart with your feet pointing between 100 – 300 outwards. 

The exact angle depends on your comfort when moving. They should not look directly in front. This will make it difficult to balance during exercise. 

Step 2: Stabilize  

Let our feet dial into the floor to establish a stable stance and enhance alignment. This will also engage your muscles while ensuring our knees don’t curve inwards as your dip into squats. A steady position is vital when performing squats. A good squat machine can help keep you stable. 

Step 3: Proud Chest

Breathe in and hold your breath as you keep your chest up. Doing this will help align your upper properly. A raised chest will make sure your upper back and shoulders don’t round. This often happens to many athletes and may lead to pains and injuries. 

Step 4: Sink Into a Squat

Initiate the downward motion by slowly and steadily bending your knees as you extend your hips behind. You should maintain a neutral position at your lower back. Do not rotate your torso as you execute squats. Doing so may cause a twist on your spine, which may cause serious injury. 

Keep pushing your knees to your feet’s direction and control this descent to the bottom. For perfect squats, you should make slow and controlled movements that maximize the time during which your muscles are under tension. This works them harder and makes the exercise efficient.

Step 4: Hit Parallel 

The preferred position to stop your squats is when your thighs get parallel to the ground. However, due to reasons like injury, some people may fail to hit parallel. In other scenarios, you might intend to sink a little deeper than side depending on the variations and intensifying muscle engagement. 

Step 5: The Way Up

Once you reach parallel, pause for a second and then start pulling your knee and hips inwards to help you return to the standing position. Maintain your stability to avoid any sideways movements as they may cause injury. 

Breathing During Squats

Your breathing pattern during squats is fundamental. While at the top, take a deep breath and hold it as you go all the way down the descend and back to standing position. Exhale when back at the top. Maintaining your breath helps build enough pressure, which powers your intense movements. 

Hands Position 

The position of your hands may vary depending on preference and other factors. For instance, you can extend your hands sideways or in front of you parallel to the ground throughout the squats. You might also hold them together straight above your head or at your chest in a prayer posture. 

High-Intensity Squats Variations (5 variations)

For you to burn more calories doing squats, you have to increase the intensity levels. Squats have tens of variations you can perform to help you achieve your fitness goals. Here are three high-intensity squats variations that will help you burn more calories. 

  • Barbell Squats

This is the most intense of all squats variations, and it is performed with weights placed across your shoulders. You will take all the steps as though you are playing the standard bodyweight squats, but in this case, your hands will be holding on to support a barbell placed across your shoulders. 

Barbell squats can be performed with free weight or on any type of squats machine. This is the squats variation that burns the highest amount of calories as it works your muscles the hardest.  

  • Dumbbell Squats: 

Dumbbell squats are variations that involve dumbbells in your squats. You can hold dumbbells hanging on the sides when using the squat machine, close to the chest, or contained in front of you with outstretched arms Parallel to the floor. This extra weight intensifies your exercise by involving more muscle and results in burning more calories. 

  • Jump Squats:

Just as the name suggests, you dip into a squat and power yourself up into a jump and land on your toes. This variation increases your heart rate and is, therefore, good for your heart. This aerobic nature makes jump squats one of the best bodyweight variations in burning more calories. 

Other squat variations you can do include plie squat exercises

Muscles Worked During Squats 

When you perform this compound exercise, you will work for multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Squats mainly recruit your lower body muscle groups, but by extension, your upper body muscle groups are also involved. Squats movements require coordination of both upper and lower body muscles and bones.

  • Quadriceps: 

These are muscles on the front of your thigh. In all squats variation, these are the muscles that are worked intensely. They are subjected to tension in both upwards and downwards movements during squats. You have to tighten them to build pressure required to bear the load and control the movements. 

  • Hamstrings: 

These refer to the muscles found at the back of your thigh. Hamstrings are worked in almost equal measures to the quadriceps. They complement the quads in helping to control the moves as you perform squats. They are instrumental in stabilizing the knee joint and supporting the hip as extends. 

  • Adductor Magnus:

They are located in the inner thigh, and it is not easy to target them. They are well-targeted when you perform squats variations that involve taking a wider stance. While the standard squats assume a shoulder-width position, there are other variations in which you may choose wilder if you want to put the adductor, Magnus, under higher tension.

  • Glutes:

By this, we mean the muscles of your buttock. Yes, squats work your butts. They are recruited as we sink into the squats by helping in hip extension. While pushing back up to the standing position, they are also involved in pulling the hips back to a neutral position.  

  • Upper Body Muscle Groups 

Squats work your Abs, Obliques, and Erectors too. These are muscles that make your truck. They work hard throughout the exercise to offer stability and ensure that you are an excellent posture. Different squats variations will target them with varying levels of intensity.  

  • Calves:

By extension, muscles of your lower leg are also worked. Your calf is made of the soleus and gastrocnemius muscles, which are moves as the tension builds in the thigh. 

They tighten to create pressure to support the Achilles tendons to provide you with a stable stance. 

Read Next: Different types of squat machines for home use

Benefits of Squats 

squat benefits
  1. Ultimate Calorie Burner

Squats burn calories more than many other exercises you perform. This is because it is a compound exercise that recruits many muscle groups at the same time. This results from burning more calories. 

  1. Amazing Muscle Builders

Squats help you to develop different muscles simultaneously. This is since this exercise works the different muscles on your body simultaneously and in almost equal intensity. The more muscles you grow, the fewer fats you have, and therefore, you increase the rate at which your body burns calories. 

  1. Improves Your Cardio Fitness 

Intense squats variations train you to control your breathing patterns under extreme pressure, which is right for your cardiovascular muscles. Other variations like the jump squats also serve as very efficient cardio exercises. 

  1. Good for Your Bones and Joints

Squats are good at improving your bone strength and density. The vertical movements in squats work both your bones and joints. A healthy skeletal system is essential for all our physical activities. Working your joints ensures that you are flexible enough for all sought of body movements.


How many calories do 20 squats burn 

Based on the findings that a person can burn eight calories in one minute by performing 25 squats, it can be ascertained that one squat can burn 0.32 calories. Therefore, from the calculations, 20 calories will burn 6.4 calories when performed slightly under one minute. 

How many squats do you have to do to burn 100 calories? 

One can burn eight calories in one minute by performing 25 squats. Therefore, going by the calculations will tax you up to 313 squats to crush 100 calories. 

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