There are more obese people in the world than there are people underweight, yes you read that right. The trend is clear, especially in high income countries like the US, obesity has run amok. An often-asked question online is “How many calories does squats burn?”, we will try to break down the answer to this question in this article. We will also look at the calorie counts of some of the most popular foods and drinks in the US then tell you how many minutes of squats are needed to burn them off. Squats are one of the best bodyweight exercises you can do if you want to burn calories fast.
You need to consider a few factors to determine how many calories squats burn. The main factors to consider when calculating how many calories someone burns while doing anything (or not) is based on the weight of the person, the amount of time doing the activity and the level of intensity when performing the activity. The weight and time are easy enough to determine but you will need to do a little math to calculate the intensity variable AKA the metabolic equivalent (MET). There are squat calorie calculators online for those who abhor math.
The definition of one metabolic equivalent (MET) is the amount of oxygen consumed while sitting at rest and is equal to 3.5ml O2 per kilogram(2.2lbs) body weight x min. MET gives us common people a way to easily comprehend and express the energy cost of physical activities as a multiple of the resting metabolic rate. We can determine the energy cost of an activity by dividing the relative oxygen cost (ml O2/kg/min) x by 3.5. To give you a benchmark, sitting watching TV should give you a MET value of 1.
Take a look at this MET Table below:
Another way of determining your MET is judging how you feel while performing an exercise.
The MET Formula
.0175 x MET x weight (kg) = Calories burned per minute (*using kgs)
.0175 x MET x (weight x 2.2) = Calories burned per minute (*For Americans)
We will look at how the MET formula works based on the average American female and male to see how many calories squats burn.
The average American woman is 170lbs or ~77kgs while the average American man is 198lbs or 90kgs.
High intensity squat session
FEMALE: .0175 x 8 x 170= 10.78 calories burned per minute
MALE: .0175 x 8 x 198= 12.6 calories burned per minute
Moderate intensity squat session
FEMALE: .0175 x 5.75 x 170= 7.75 calories burned per minute
MALE: .0175 x 5.75 x 198= 9.06 calories burned per minute
Low intensity squat session
FEMALE: .0175 X 3.5 X 170= 4.7 calories burned per minute
MALE: .0175 x 3.5 x 198= 5.5 calories burned per minute
The number of calories consumed daily drastically varies depending on the person. The only answer should be; the number of calories consumed daily has been skyrocketing. This increase is most alarming in wealthy countries but it especially holds true in America.
There has been a 24% increase in daily calorie consumption since 1961. The average American now consumes more than 3,600 calories daily. We took the liberty to help you visualize how long you would have to perform body-weight squats to burn off some of the favorite foods and drinks in the US. The results may surprise you…
Just being alive burns calories as your body expends energy to sustain itself such as cell production, breathing, protein synthesis, blood circulation, ion transport and processing nutrients. There is a method called the Harris Benedict formula to help calculate your BMR or basal metabolic rate. Your BMR dictates how many calories you need to consume daily to function at a resting state.
The basal metabolic rate or BMR is also referred to as resting metabolic rate (RMR). These two terms aren’t exactly the same, the difference being BMR is most likely determined in a lab or medical setting where they only test the calories needed for the basal functions mentioned above. Whereas RMR is measuring the number of calories that your body burns while resting, usually measured in the morning before doing anything that day including eating or drinking.
This is based on the individual and how active they are during a normal day. The US Department of Health and Human services says that the average adult man expends 2,000-3,000 calories per day while the average woman uses 1,600 to 2,400 calories per day.
If you want to calculate how many calories you need per day you need to do some math, or you can cheat using free online calorie calculators. Using the analogy of taking the stairs or the escalator, let’s hit the stairs and break it down.
First you need to account for your sex, age and weight (don’t lie we’re not judging). Because we’re Americans we will use inches and pounds.
Females use this equation:
In this example we will use the average American woman according to the CDC in 2016: 20 years old - Weighs 170 pounds - 5 feet, 4 inches tall
For non-American women use this equation:
Males use this equation:
In this case we will use the average American man: 20 years old – Weighs 198 pounds – 5 feet 9 inches tall
For non-American men use this equation:
Select your normal activity level:
Some real-life examples:
An Amazon worker walking around a warehouse and packing boxes (not taking bathroom breaks) might be a 1.725.
A software developer that sits at a desk all day then goes home at night to partake in some epic video game battles might be a 1.2.
Almost there…. All this math and thinking should help you burn an extra calorie or two (yes critical thinking burns more calories). Now to finish the Harris-Benedict equation:
BMR x activity level = calories needed to maintain weight
Just looking at the 170lb American woman who’s slightly active, will need:
1601.4 (BMR) x 1.375 (slightly active) = 2,202 calories
A normal 198lb American man who lives a sedentary lifestyle, will need:
2,034.7 (BMR) x 1.2(sedentary)= 2,441
There is no one size fits all equation to answer the question how many calories do 50 squats burn. The number of calories burned is based on a number of variables. However, let’s say that you complete 1 squat every second for 50 seconds at a high intensity. A rough calculation would come to around 10-13 calories burned while doing those 50 squats. This was calculated for an average man/woman working at high intensity. You can follow the same methodology to calculate how many calories does 30 squats burn or even how many calories 1000 squats burn.
FEMALE: .0175 x 8 x 170= 10.78 calories burned per minute
MALE: .0175 x 8 x 198= 12.6 calories burned per minute
If we look to the previous example of how many calories you can burn by doing 50 squats then we can determine that it would take around 500 squats at a high intensity level for an average person to burn off 100 calories. You can find a more exact answer to this by calculating based on your weight and workout intensity level.
Seeing how squats are a lower body exercise it might be obvious that they make your legs stronger. The main muscles worked during squats are the glutes, quads, hamstrings, adductors, hip flexors and calves. Squats require these muscles to work in unison stimulating muscle growth. Beginners can actually build muscle with bodyweight squats but once your body has adapted to the workload you will need to add weight to your squats to see any muscle growth. You should be able to do at least 100 squats successively before trying to add weight.
As long as you are performing your squats properly (we’ll get into that later) you will be moving your body through a wide range of motion. There is a plethora of squat variations that will have your body moving through even more planes of motion. These muscles in our legs help to support our body providing strength and stability for everyday life whether it’s walking, running or jumping.
Squats can help to improve bone health, even at high volume and low weight. If you want to get the best possible results to improve bone density, you’d need to start doing weighted squats. However, bodyweight squats are a great compound exercise to keep your bones healthy.
When you perform squats your knees and hips become stronger and more stable. Squats are the perfect exercise to remedy certain muscle imbalances. This is especially important as we grow older. To preserve our ability to balance; our leg strength, core and stabilizing muscles are essential. Squats can also help improve the mind body connection which can help mitigate potential falls in the future.
The more effort used to complete various exercises is directly correlated to how hard your heart and lungs muscles have to work. Because squats are no walk in the park, you can capitalize on this strenuous effort. This holds even more true once you start adding weights to your squats.
Squats are one of the best exercises for weight loss due to the immense number of calories they burn compared with other exercises. Your body will consume a lot of energy moving large muscles all at once. This study had 94 already healthy adolescent males complete an 8-week body weight squat protocol which had some astounding results such as dropping body fat percentage by 4.2% while increasing lean body mass by 2.7%.
Even though squats are a lower body exercise it is important to keep you core engaged throughout the movement. Your entire core area should be utilized including lower back, mid-back, obliques, inner spinal stabilizers and your abdominal muscles. Squats have us moving through multiple planes that force our core to work in order to stay balanced.
Seeing how legs are comprised of the largest muscles in our bodies it’s no surprise that most of our power is generated from our lower body. You can try doing some jump squats to give an extra boost to your vertical. Jump squats have also been proven effective to improve sprint times.
Squats target both your lower body and core simultaneously. When performing squats with good technique your back will be straight with your head up helping to reinforce the engagement of your torso. These anterior and posterior muscles work together helping to combat that hunched over posture. As most people are sitting all day at a desk it is important to counteract this sedentary lifestyle, squats are the perfect exercise for this.
Doing squats regularly keeps your knees and ankle joints from becoming stiff. Squats can help to strengthen your ligaments, tendons and bones. The old adage is true, move it or lose it!
Related: Front Squats vs Back Squats
Remember that form is an essential component to all exercises but this holds true especially when considering squats. Eventually you should want to add some weight to your squats, this means you need proper form to avoid any potential injuries. And as always, consult your doctor before beginning any new workout routines.
Here’s a look at the simple steps on how to do a squat…
Note: Keep your back straight throughout the movement. If you need to counterbalance this movement you can bring your arms straight out in front of you at shoulder height
Note: Make sure you don’t lean forward off of the wall. Your knees shouldn’t go past your toes.
Note: Keep your lower back straight throughout the movement with your feet planted to the ground at all times.
Note: Try not to lean forward when lifting your leg out to the side.
Note: Don’t let your front knee go over your toes and make sure to keep your toes and knees aligned.
Note: Keep your back straight and your head looking forward throughout the movement.
Note: Keep your back straight while performing the squatting portion of the movement.
Note: Keep your arms out in front of you at shoulder level to help keep yourself balanced.
More Squat Resources:
Tabata Style Circuit: Perform each squat variation for 20 seconds then take 10 second rest before moving onto the next type of squat. Do this until the 10 minutes are up.
You need to start squatting if you don’t already. Squats are one of the quintessential exercises that can be performed just about anywhere. There are so many benefits of doing squats but now you should know that squats burn a massive number of calories. So, if you feel guilty about eating that extra slice of pizza (by the way the average person eats 3 slices or 816 calories), you know what time it is. Squat Time!
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