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The Effect of Squats on Weight Loss

author image Kieran O'Connor
A health and fitness freelance journalist, Kieran O'Connor began writing professionally in 2007, and has since been published in numerous magazines, including "Men's Health" and "House & Garden." He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy and English literature from the University of Cape Town in 2006.
The Effect of Squats on Weight Loss
A man is squatting in a commercial gym. Photo Credit: Art-Of-Photo/iStock/Getty Images

Including weight training and aerobic activities in your training schedule is an effective method of losing weight through exercise. There's one exercise that fulfills both activities -- the squat. Not only does it shape your butt, compared to other exercises it also burns the most calories for the amount of time spent training.

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Squatting without weights incorporates elements of resistance training because you're lifting your own body weight. Since the muscles of the buttocks are already used to this kind of lifting, squatting places more emphasis on cardiovascular activity. Using added weight increases the intensity of the workout and leads to building lean muscle mass, which accelerates your metabolism and weight loss.

Benefits of Adding Muscle

An added benefit of increasing your lean muscle mass is that a higher percentage of calories are burned while you're resting. Since the glutei maximi, or the buttock muscles, are the largest muscles in the body, increasing your butt muscles' size has a larger influence on your metabolism than any other muscle.

Types of Squats

There are a number of variations of the weighted squat. The most well-known exercises include the back squat, where the barbell is positioned at the base of the neck atop your trapezius muscles, and the overhead squat, which requires holding the barbell above your head with your arms fully extended. Weight-free squats that may increase cardiovascular activity include the body weight squat, which is performed at a faster pace and at higher repetitions than other variations, and the jump squat, which demands a jump once you rise from the squatting position.


While squats can help you lose weight, it's important to perform additional aerobic exercises such as running or swimming. Your diet is also a factor in weight loss. According to Ellen Barrett, author of “Weights for Weight Loss,” the only scientifically proven method for losing weight involves burning more calories than the amount consumed. By combining an exercise program with a healthy eating plan, you'll maximize your ability to lose weight.


If you are new to the squat, you should start off gradually. This is especially important if you're using weights because the increased resistance places extra demands on your muscles, especially the lower back. Before each session, take time to warm up your hip joints, knees and ankles to avoid injury. Be careful to keep your knees in proper alignment as you squat.

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  • Stronger Legs and Lower Body; Keli Roberts, et al.
  • Weights for Weight Loss: Fat-Burning and Muscle-Sculpting Exercises with Over 200 Step-by-Step Photos; Ellen Barrett
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