No exercise slays your legs like squats. Use your body weight or some iron to target virtually all the muscles in your legs. But if you're looking to lose weight, there aren't a ton of calories burned with squats.
Squats should be part of a comprehensive lower-body workout to help boost power for jumping and sprinting and develop defined muscles in your thighs, buttocks and calves.
Squats use lots of large muscles, so they do burn some calories — but since they're done in short efforts, it won't be a ton. The exact number of calories you burn depends on the intensity of the exercise, the time spent doing it and your size.
Calories Burned with Squats
According to Harvard Health Publishing, performing a general weight lifting program for 30 minutes will burn 90 calories if you weigh 125 pounds, 112 calories for a 155-pound person and 133 calories for a person who weighs 185 pounds.
However, these numbers can vary significantly. A person performing body weight squats will likely burn less calories than a person using a weighted barbell.
Keep in mind, though, that you're unlikely to squat for a straight 30 minutes. Usually you perform squats in sets of eight to 20 repetitions, rest and repeat. The calorie calculation is for the time you're doing the movement. So your 15-minutes of squats might be closer to just five minutes of true work.
Read more: Is This the World's Greatest Exercise?
Feel the Burn
Squats can help tone your buttocks, thighs and calves and improve your strength and endurance. Squats calorie-burning benefit extends beyond the actual workout, too.
EPOC, or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, occurs after a heavy lifting workout that involves squats, according to the American Council on Exercise. Your body burns calories after your workout in an effort to restore yourself to a normal, resting level.
The higher the intensity of your exercise, rather than the duration, influences EPOC. If you perform squats with heavy weights as part of a high-intensity strength-training workout, it can up your total calorie burn by 6 to 15 percent.
Use weights that feel heavy after six to eight total reps to really challenge your self. Back squats, with a barbell across your shoulders, are a good choice, but you can do squats with the Smith press, holding dumbbells or holding a kettlebell. Do between three and six sets, but don't stop there.
Go for other heavy lifts to seal in your workout and accelerate the EPOC effect. Lunges, step ups, leg presses, hip extension and calf raises are moves to include.
Read more: What Muscles Do Squats Target?
Add Some Intervals
To keep your heart rate elevated to burn more calories, consider adding some cardio intervals such as 30-second treadmill sprints or mountain-climbers between your weight lifting sets.
To burn more calories throughout the week, considering adding some HIIT — high intensity interval training — workouts to your rotation. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, the high intensity effort used in HIIT workouts tends to burn 6 to 15 percent more calories than a sustained cardio workout of equal time.