Barbell squats burn more calories than any other exercise 2 years ago

Barbell squats burn more calories than any other exercise

Skipping leg day is a huge error - and not just for the sake of your quad size. Studies show squats burn more calories than any other lift

Whether you're looking for a solid leg builder or a weight loss workout routine, one thing's for certain - barbell squats should be a fundamental feature.

Those days when weight loss was all about cardio are long gone. While a morning jog or dip in the pool are still useful, resistance training is a key tool for shedding the pounds.

Compound exercises are the best for a variety of reasons. Not only do they activate multiple muscles at once, but in doing so they burn a massive amount of energy in the form of calories. This makes compound lifts an essential component of any fat loss programme.

Some of the most common compound exercises are:

  • Squats
  • Bench Press
  • Deadlifts
  • Shoulder Press
  • Tricep Dips
  • Pull-Ups

Squats are arguably the pick of the bunch, as research has shown.


A team of Portuguese scientists compared the calorie-burning effects of a variety of exercises. They found squats burned an average 35 calories per minute, the most of all the lifts under analysis. Leg exercises in general seemed to burn the most calories.

On the opposite end of the spectrum were bicep curls. Bigger arms may be high on your list of gym goals, but if curls are all you are doing then you may struggle to burn sufficient energy.

After all, weight loss is achieved by burning more calories than you take in from food and drink. It owes very little to spot-reduction - where you train a muscle and expect to lose fat from that particular area.

The benefits don't end there. In terms of muscle growth, squats are a great builder of your quads, glutes and hamstrings. They also involve a lot of core work to control the weight, so even your abs will feel the burn.

Read more on how your diet can burn stubborn body fat