No exercise slays your legs like squats. Use your body weight or some iron to target virtually all the muscles in your legs. 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.
A Simple Equation
To calculate the amount of calories you burn while doing bodyweight squats, multiply your weight by .096. Take the answer and multiply it by the amount of minutes you perform the exercise. For instance, if you weigh 160 lbs. and you take 15 minutes to complete your squats, you will burn approximately 230 calories.
Keep in mind, though, that you're unlikely to squat for a straight 15 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.
Benefits Beyond Burning
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. 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.