Are Squats & Deadlifts the Best Exercises to Burn Calories?

by Ollie Odebunmi, Demand Media
    Burn calories with deadlifts and squats.

    Burn calories with deadlifts and squats.

    Deadlifts and squats are compound multijoint exercises that simultaneously work a number of muscle groups. The efficiency of deadlifts and squats in burning calories depends on a number of factors. Both exercises place considerable stress on the musculoskeletal structure, and require utmost focus and proper exercise technique to minimize the risk of injury. Consult a certified fitness professional if you are unsure how to perform deadlifts and squats.

    Performing Squats

    Stand with your feet approximately shoulder-width apart with a barbell held across your shoulders. Keep your head up and your back straight. Brace your core and abdominal muscles and inhale as you drop into a squat by bending your knees and pushing your hips and butt backward. Stop when your thighs are parallel to the floor, then exhale as you push up to your starting position. Keep your feet flat on the floor throughout the movement. You can also do squats by holding a pair of dumbbells hanging down by your sides, or body-weight squats by holding both arms outstretched in front of you. Braced abs and core muscles protect your spine, help keep your back straight, and keep your hips and pelvis in proper alignment as you perform the movement. Squats work your quadriceps, butt, hips, hamstrings and calves.

    Performing Deadlifts

    Stand with your feet approximately shoulder-width apart with a barbell roughly 1 inch in front of your shins. Keep your head up and back straight. Inhale as you drop down by bending your knees and pushing your hips and butt backward to grasp the bar with an alternate hip-width grip -- one palm facing you, the other facing away. Brace your core and exhale as you lift the barbell by straightening your legs and hips. Keep your arms straight and the barbell close to your body. Stop when you are upright with the barbell held across the front of your thighs and shoulders pulled back. Braced abdominal and core muscles protect your spine, and help keep your back straight and your hips and pelvis in proper alignment as you perform the exercise. Deadlifts work your lower back or erector spinae, trapezius, quadriceps, butt, hamstrings and calves.

    Calories Burned

    Generally speaking, the number of calories burned during exercise depends on your weight and the intensity at which you perform the exercise. Nutristrategy.com reports that a 155-pound person doing one hour of light weightlifting will burn 211 calories, while one hour of vigorous weightlifting burns 422 calories. A 205-pound person will burn 279 calories with one hour of light weightlifting, and 558 calories with one hour of vigorous weightlifting. By contrast, a 155-pound person running at 5 miles per hour for an hour will burn 472 calories, and a 205-pound person burns 745 calories. Deadlifts and squats may not burn as many immediate calories as running, but they do have a significant long-term effect on calorie expenditure; both exercises increase lean muscle tissue. Lean muscle tissue increases your metabolism, enabling you to burn more calories away from the gym.

    Intensity and Calories Burned

    Increase the calories burned by deadlifts and squats by doing a high number of repetitions with a moderate weight. For example, do three to five sets of 15 to 20 reps with the last three reps of each set requiring considerable effort. Rest 60 to 90 seconds between sets. Alternatively, do a set of deadlifts followed by a set of squats. Doing two different back-to-back exercises without rest is called a super-set. Perform three to five sets of super-sets for a super-intense deadlift and squat workout.

    Intensity and EPOC

    EPOC stands for excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. An intense deadlift and squat routine increases the amount of oxygen and nutrients used by your body during your workout. According to a study by researchers from the Norwegian University of Sport and Physical Education, published in "Sports Medicine" in 2003, intense resistance exercise increases your EPOC and metabolism several hours after exercise as your body expends energy and burns calories replenishing depleted nutrients.

    About the Author

    Ollie Odebunmi's involvement in fitness as a trainer and gym owner dates back to 1983. He published his first book on teenage fitness in December 2012. Odebunmi is a black belt in taekwondo and holds a bachelor's degree in economics from Kingston University in the United Kingdom.

    Photo Credits

    • Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images