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Do Squats Burn Off Belly Fat?

author image Grey Evans
Grey Evans began writing professionally in 1985. Her work has been published in "Metabolics" and the "Journal of Nutrition." Gibbs holds a Ph.D. in nutrition from Ohio State University and an M.S. in physical therapy from New York University. She has worked at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and currently develops comprehensive nutritional and rehabilitative programs for a neurological team.
Do Squats Burn Off Belly Fat?
Never squat outside of a power rack or squat cage. Photo Credit Darrin Klimek/Digital Vision/Getty Images

While you cannot selectively burn fat from your stomach, squatting burns fat and builds muscle. While squats primarily develop strength and power, heavy squats increase your lean muscle mass, which increases your ability to burn calories at rest over the course of the day. Squatting itself remains a difficult exercise, and the effort of squatting heavy consumes a great deal of effort, and burns calories in the process. Consult a health care practitioner before beginning any strength training or dietary program.


Squatting requires a great deal of effort, and the effort remains directly proportional to both the weight you use when squatting and your training volume. The longer and harder you train, the more calories you will burn. And while this effort does not come directly from the fat stored around your waistline, some of the energy will. Over time, this increase in caloric expenditure may lead to an increase in body fat loss, but your diet must also be in order. You can squat heavy all day long, but if you drink sodas and eat junk food between sets, you cannot expect to make progress.


To begin to lose body fat, make small adjustments in your diet. Sudden, drastic cuts in your diet can have a negative effect on your metabolism, causing you to lose lean muscle tissue and slowing your metabolism, which results in greater difficulty losing fat. Cut your calories by only 250 per day at first, reducing your intake of saturated fats such as those found in fatty red meats, eggs and butter. Eliminate sugary carbohydrates such as table sugar, sodas and junk food. After three or four weeks, if you are not happy with your progress, you can cut your calories further.

Squatting for Fat Loss

The method by which you train will play a role in how much fat you can burn. Following squatting, your metabolism increases, as well as your levels of testosterone and growth hormone. Both hormones help you maintain lean muscle mass while dieting and burn fat. By increasing both through training, you can cause your body to burn a little extra fat. Keep your rest periods short, no more than one minute between sets of squats in the gym. Training with a weight that makes you struggle to complete ten repetitions, while resting only one minute between sets will cause a significant increase in your growth hormone levels, according to a 1993 study published in the "Journal of Applied Physiology."


The Tabata protocol is an advanced method of adapting interval training to resistance training, and it is both effective and brutal. To squat using this method, you would perform as many repetitions as you can during a 20-second period, then rest for 10 seconds, then repeat. This process continues for four minutes. Each 10-second rest period means exactly 10 seconds. Eleven seconds after the last squat of your previous set, you should be headed down to the bottom of your first squat in your next set. Four minutes may not seem like a long time -- until you try it.

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