Squat Benefits | 90+ Stats & Facts [Research Review]

Posted on 11 September, 2021 by Nicholas Rizzo

We've reading thousands of studies on the health benefits of exercise and how strength training is beneficial We wanted to highlight the benefits of squats because it is one of the most important and effective exercises one can do.

To highlight squat benefits, we have curated data from over 75 studies and summarized the top benefits of squatting:

  • Make you a stronger athlete
  • Build incredible power, muscle, and functional strength
  • Best exercises for engaging lower body 
  • Increase your vertical jump
  • Squats make you run faster
  • Best way to engage lower body muscles
  • Can improve your overall health
  • Burn calories and lose weight
  • Build lean body mass and improve physique
  • Build stronger, healthier bones
  • Improve your cardiovascular health
  • Many variations and easy to modify

Squats build strength, muscle, and power

Squatting works out the muscles of your lower limbs and allows them to contract faster, thereby increasing your rate of force development. The higher the rate of force development means stronger muscles.

Eight weeks of squat workouts, done 2-8 times a week, can:

  • Increase squat maximal force production (Fmax) by 18.8%
  • Improve the rate of force development over 100ms (RFD100) by 37.2%
  • Increase lean body mass by 2.7%
  • Thicken thigh circumference by 1.7%
  • Grow Muscle mass thickness by 3.2%
  • Improve the strength of the knee extensor by 16%

In a study analyzing the benefits of using elastic bands and free weights during squats, it was determined that at 85% of 1RM:

  • Peak power increased by 24%
  • Peak force by 16%

Squatting to improve lower body strength is good for everyone because:

  • As a functional movement exercise, it helps you develop muscles that are used for everyday tasks
  • It helps with the flexibility of the lower limb joints

Squats are incredibly effective for weight loss

Aside from muscle gains, squats are also useful for trimming body fat. But because you are replacing fat with muscle, you might not experience a lot of weight loss.

  • In a 2013 study of adolescent boys, it was discovered that 8 weeks of squat exercise decreased body fat by 4.2%.

Squats have also been shown to improve a person’s metabolic rate. In a study conducted among healthy males, conducted in a total of 3 visits, it was discovered that those who did resistance training:

  • Experience a 59% higher EPOC than those who don’t
  • Have EPOC last 60% longer after exercising

But in terms of calories burned, squats are quite effective in torching a lot for a short period.

  • For a person weighing 140 lbs, doing regular squats at a moderate pace, can burn
    • 19 calories in 5 minutes
    • 58 calories in 15 minutes
    • 97 calories in 25 minutes
  • If the same person increases the pace and intensity of squats, they can burn
    • 44 calories in 5 minutes
    • 133 calories in 15 minutes
    • 222 calories in 25 minutes

Squats is good for people who want to decrease body fat:

  • As it burns a lot of calories in a short period
  • It builds up muscles, reducing body fat percentage

Squats is goof for fat loss because:

  • It facilitates burning calories to be used as energy for working out
  • Energy can come from stored fats, which help eliminate them as do squats regularly
  • As you build muscles in the lower limbs, you burn more calories as you move, so it has the potential to help you lose some weight

Squats improve your overall health

Aside from building muscles, squats have also been found beneficial in improving the function of your body for everyday life.

One study among powerlifters to determine the effect of squats on the endocrine system, it was determined that 6 sets of squats is the optimal volume to 

  • Increase growth hormone level by as much as 225%
  • Decrease cortisol level is decreased by 28.8%
  • Lower insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) by 18.6%

As a type of resistance training exercise, a squat is good for the body because:

  • It makes your heart and lungs stronger and in optimal function
  • It reduces the rate of bone degeneration in the lower extremities
  • It enhances glucose absorption and utilization

Benefits of squats for men vs women

Squat exercises are beneficial for both men and women, but doing the same thing doesn’t have the same effect for both genders.

Squats increase bone health and density

After a 24-week study that involved squat exercises 3 times per week, bone density increased:

  • Up to 7.7% in men
  • Up to 1.5% in women 

Furthermore, in the same study, it was determined that compared to women, bone density in men is higher by: 

  • 129.63% in the post-anterior spine
  • 80.52% in the lateral spine
  • 100% in the femoral neck

Meanwhile, a study of postmenopausal women revealed that the use of a squat machine 3 times a week, for 12 weeks, increased their:

  • 1-repetition maximum by 154%
  • rate of force development  by 52%
  • Lumbar spine bone mineral composition (BMC) by 2.9%
  • Femoral neck BMC by 4.9%

Squatting is beneficial for your heart

Resistance training, like squats, has the potential to improve heart health. Resistance training requires you to increase energy expenditure to accomplish a task and this leads to increased heart rate. When done regularly, squats strengthen heart muscles, which means lower resting heart rate, and can also help in lowering blood pressure.

A study looking at the benefits of squats in menopausal women stated that after 26 weeks of training, done twice a week, the women showed:

  • A decrease in total cholesterol by 5%
  • Lower triglycerides by 14.2%
  • Increase maximum oxygen consumption by 12.4%

Squats effect on lower body muscle activation

There are different types of squats and each variation can help you target specific muscle groups. This is useful information if you want to  

In a 3-month study among active individuals, it was determined that free weight squats were more effective than a Smith machine in delivering a higher electromyographic mean absolute value (EMG MAV) by:

  • 34% from the gastrocnemius
  • 26% from the biceps femoris
  • 49% from the vastus medialis 
  • 25% from the vastus lateralis
  • 43% for over all muscle groups

Based on studies comparing the depth of squats and muscle activation, it was discovered that: 

  • During a full-depth squat, vastus lateralis activation is lower by:
    • 24.4% than when doing a partial squat
    • 37.5% than when doing a parallel squat 
  • Compared to a parallel squat, the activation of the:
    • Vastus medialis is 30% less during a full-depth squat
    • Rectus femoris is 36% less during a partial squat performance
  • Meanwhile, Gluteus maximus activation is at:
    • 35.4% during a full-depth squat
    • 28% during a parallel squat
    • 16.9% during a partial squat
  • During the upward phase:
    • The parallel squat position activates the biceps femoris 14.8% more than a partial squat
    • A full squat form is 26.7% more effective in engaging the gluteus maximus
    • The partial squat is 52.6% and 32.6% effective in engaging the vastus medialis and vastus lateralis, respectively
  •  During the downward phase:
    • A full squat is 36.1% more effective in activating the biceps femoris than a parallel squat
    • A partial squat and full squat activates the gluteus maximus about 19% better than a parallel squat
    • A full squat engages the vastus medialis 8.5% higher compared to a partial squat
    • A parallel squat is 12.7% more effective in engaging the vastus lateralis than a full squat

In a one-day study among athletes comparing the effects of squats and planks, it was discovered that squats resulted in the activation of the:

  • Erector spinae by 70 to 100%
  • Rectus abdominis by 30%

Squats is beneficial for people who want to tone their lower body because:

  • It helps target various areas depending on the depth and type of squat done
  • You get also get toned abs by squatting because the muscle in the abdomen are used for stability
  • You can get shapely buttocks
  • It can help strengthen the back and relieve muscle pains

FAQ about squats

What muscles do squats work?

The primary muscle group used during a squat are:

  • Gluteus maximums
  • Hip flexors
  • Quadriceps 

The secondary muscle groups that squats work are:

  • Core / abdominal muscles
  • Calves
  • Hamstrings
  • Lower back

How To Do Squats Properly

1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your toes pointed slightly outward.

2. Keep your knees straight and your back naturally arched.

3. Bend at your hips and lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the floor.

4. Push through your heels to return to the starting position.

5. Repeat this movement till you reach your target repetition goal.

Can squats cause injuries?

If done improperly, squats can result in knee pain, tendonitis, or other injuries. If you’re just starting out, stick to doing the basic squat first until you are comfortable going lower or trying new variations.

Are squats good for the heart?

Resistance training, like squats, has the potential to improve heart health. Resistance training requires you to increase energy expenditure to accomplish a task and this leads to increased heart rate. When done regularly, squats strengthen heart muscles, which means lower resting heart rate, and can also help in lowering blood pressure.

Can squats help lower blood sugar levels?

 Compound exercises like squat, which engages different muscle groups, help in lowering and controlling blood sugar levels. When more muscle groups are used, it burns more energy and uses more glucose in the body to fuel your workouts.

What are the disadvantages of squats?

Though squats may seem simple enough to do and offer entire body benefits, there are some disadvantages related to squatting.

Some disadvantages of squatting include an increased risk of injury. The most-reported injuries include:

  • Knee joint pain
  • Back strain
  • Rhabdomyolysis or muscle death
  • Hip mobility restriction
  • Tears in the tendons or cartilages

Do squats burn belly fat?

Though squats also use your core muscles, you cannot spot-reduce belly fat. The upside is that, as a compound exercise, squats burn a lot of calories. The more consistent you are in doing squats means you’ll start losing overall body fat, not just in your abs.

Can squats make your butt bigger?

Squats help melt fat away, so if you have a lot of fat in your butt, it will become smaller the more you exercise. However, squats also activate your gluteal muscles, which when done regularly, can help achieve a tush that is firm, toned, and rounder.

What do 100 squats a day do to your body?

For beginners, doing 3 sets of 15 squats per day can help them see results in about a month. Increasing sets and reps help them get better muscle definition in their thighs and butts faster. Adding weights or fitness bands to the mix can also help intensify the workout, and see results faster.

Doing 100 squats a day can give you toned thigh and gluteal muscles. But to achieve muscle growth, you also need to add more protein to your diet, increase your load, do varying squat exercises to activate more or different parts of your lower body.

 What are some different types of squat variations?

  • Regular squats
  • Front squat
  • Landmine squat
  • Zercher squat
  • Prisoner squat
  • Side squat
  • Pistol squat
  • Single-leg squat
  • Plie squat
  • Smith machine squats
  • Bodyweight squats
  • Goblet squats
  • Overhead squat
  • Weighted squats
  • Box squats
  • Jump squats
  • Bulgarian split squat
  • Hack squats
  • Barbell squats
  • Dumbbell squats
  • Kettlebell squats
  • Isometric squats
  • Banded squats
  • Wall squats
  • Pause squats

What other strength exercises are beneficial for your health?

Although all forms of exercise are great for your health, each one can come with their own unique health benefits that are worth noting. Here are some great exercises that are beneficial for your health:

Conclusion

Squat exercises are a great way to tone your lower body muscles and shed some fats. It is inexpensive and can be done almost everywhere. Squat workouts also engages your abdominal muscles and improve core strength. 

However, just like other types of exercise, if you do not have the correct form, you won’t reap the benefits when it comes to muscle development. Squats, when done wrong, can also result in injuries.

About RunRepeat

RunRepeat is the go-to place for people looking for their next pair of shoes. You can find user and expert reviews for athletic and lifestyle footwear. You can compare models to see their prices, sizes, colorways, and features, so you can easily pick the pair that suits your needs.

You can wear almost any type of training shoes when you squat. However, some people feel more comfortable wearing minimalist training shoes because they feel more stable as they do the up and down motions.

Meanwhile, other people feel more comfortable doing squats in shoes with a heel, like weightlifting shoes, because the heel elevation allows them to perform deep squats, especially when they are lifting a heavy weight.

Use of content

  • If this article piqued your interest, you can reach out to Nick Rizzo at nick@runrepeat.com. Nick is also available to do interviews.
  • Feel free to use the data in this article in any online publication. We only request that you link back to this original source.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3761779/ 

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/7093886_Effects_of_Elastic_Bands_on_Force_and_Power_Characteristics_During_the_Back_Squat_Exercise 

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Author
Nicholas Rizzo
Nicholas Rizzo

Nick combines 10+ years of experience in the health and fitness industry and a background in the sciences in his role as the Fitness Research Director. During his competitive powerlifting years his PRs have him sitting in the top 2% of bench presses (395 lbs), top 3% of squats (485 lbs) and top 6% of deadlifts (515 lbs) for his weight and age. His work has been featured on Bodybuilding.com, LiveStrong, Healthline, WebMD, WashingtonPost, and many more. Along the way, collaborating with industry leaders like Michael Yessis, Mark Rippetoe, Carlo Buzzichelli, Dave Tate, Ray Williams, and Joel Seedman.