The most effective exercise for weight loss is one that recruits more then one muscle group at a time. In addition to working several muscles at once, the best fat burning exercise works the larger muscle groups like the legs, chest or back. All of that considered, in my opinion the most effective exercise for weight loss is the squat.
The squat stimulates the quads, hamstrings, gluts, calves, abs and lower back. Because the squat recruits so many muscle groups, it takes a good amount of energy to perform them. The more energy an exercise demands the more calories you’ll burn by doing it.
In addition to burning calories you’ll also be improving your strength and building lean muscle. Since the leg muscles are by far the largest muscles in your body, the squat can produce more muscle faster then any other exercise. I’m not talking about getting grotesquely huge legs here, I’m talking about burning off a few pounds of fat while adding a few pounds of muscle.
Why should you add a few pounds of muscle? Because muscle is a metabolic tissue. Muscle is an active tissue that requires calories to sustain itself. That means that by adding a few pounds of muscle you will increase the amount of calories you burn on a daily basis.
Some research suggests that a single pound of muscle can increase your basal metabolic rate by 30-60 calories per pound of new muscle. Trade 5 pounds of fat in for 5 pounds of muscle and you’ll boost your metabolism by as much as 150-300 calories a day!
There are other exercises that work similar muscle groups, but nothing can replace the squat. Here are a few tips on how to properly execute the most effective exercise for weight loss.
- Start with your feet shoulder width apart
- Begin by pushing your hips back as if you were reaching for a bench
- Lower yourself slowly until your hips and knees are bent at 90 degrees
- Take strain off of your knees by focusing on keeping your knees behind your toes
- Return to the starting position and repeat
I also recommend that anyone with lower back, hip or knee problems see a physician before making the squat part of their routine. If you are currently doing squats and you’re not wearing a belt you might want to start. Belts keep your lower back in proper alignment, preventing injury.
There is no need to use extremely heavy weight for this exercise. Lifting weight that is to heavy can cause serious injuries. Try doing 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps, that should get your heart pumping!
If you’re just starting out, body weight squats are a great place to start. You can do a couple sets every other day until you’ve worked your way up to where you need to use additional weight. In the beginning you can do these at home then either pick up some equipment or sign up for a gym membership.
Some people have a difficult time with the squat, if that’s the case for you then you might have better luck with the lunge. See a previous post I wrote about How To Do Lunges Correctly, there’s also a video to help you out!
There’s really no disputing that squats are one of the most effective exercises for weight loss. If you’re not doing them once or twice you should. If you’re a beginner check out the video below for directions on how to execute a squat properly.