Squats are one of the most important foundational movement patterns for strength training exercises. The majority of total-body and lower-body resistance training workouts include at least some sort of variety or modification of a basic squat because squats are an effective, multi-joint compound functional movement with many health and fitness benefits.
However, beyond the basics of knowing that getting in your reps and sets of squats is important, many people find themselves asking, “How many squats should I do a day?” Is 10 enough? 25? Do I need to do 100 squats per day?
Runners, athletes of nearly every sport, and everyday people just trying to improve their fitness can benefit from performing squats regularly.
In this guide, we will look at the benefits of squats and try to answer the question, how many squats should I do per day.
We will look at:
- What Is A Squat?
- Benefits Of Squats For Runners
- How To Do A Squat
- Modifying Squats
- How Many Squats Should I Do A Day?
Let’s get started!
What Is a Squat?
A squat is a lower-body exercise that involves flexing your knees and hips to drop your body down as if sitting back into an invisible chair.
Basic squats strengthen your quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and calves, as well as your lower back and core. There are also many modifications and varieties of squats that recruit additional muscles like your adductors, upper back, and hip rotators.
Benefits of Squats for Runners
There are quite a few benefits of squats for runners as well as athletes of all sports. Benefits of squats for runners include the following:
- Improving cardiovascular fitness
- Strengthening the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves
- Increasing sprint speed
- Improving uphill running
- Increasing jumping power
- Decreasing lower back pain
- Strengthening the core
- Improving balance and stability
- Increasing bone density
- Increasing mobility and flexibility in the ankles, hips, and knees
- Improving posture
How to Do a Squat
Here are the steps to perform a basic bodyweight squat:
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, with your toes pointing forward, your core engaged, and your chest up and proud.
- Inhale, bending your knees and pushing your hips backward as if reaching your butt back to sit in a chair, keeping your back straight and chest up. Your arms can come forward in front of your body to act as a counterweight.
- Lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor and your knees are flexed to 90 degrees.
- Exhale, pressing through your heels to return to the starting position.
If you struggle to achieve adequate squat depth (thighs parallel to the floor and knees bent to 90 degrees), you can place a weight plate or heavy book under your heels to help compensate for tight ankles and inadequate pelvic rotation.
You can also start with wall sits to reduce the strain on your knees.
Note that you can add resistance to your squats to increase the intensity by holding dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, or other weights or wearing a weighted vest.
How Many Squats Should I Do A Day?
Just as there’s no easy or one-size-fits-all answer to “how many miles should I run per day,” there’s no universal recommendation for “how many squats should I do a day.”
The recommended number of squats you should do per day depends on your current fitness level, your fitness goals, the type of squats you’re doing, the resistance/intensity of the squat, and the other exercises you’re doing alongside squats.
For example, if beginners did the same squat routine as competitive or elite athletes, they would likely get injured. In the reverse scenario, the elite athlete would not get a sufficient workout.
Let’s take a look at each variable and how they affect how many squats you should do per day.
#1: Your Current Fitness Level
In general, the fitter you are, the more squats you can handle.
How many squats should beginners do per day? If you’re just starting out, aim for 2-3 sets of 10-15 squats.
However, particularly if you’re adding resistance with dumbbells, barbells, resistance bands, etc., it’s important to alternate rest days with squat days to allow your muscles time to heal.
Experienced athletes can do more squats, provided the resistance is low enough to not overdo it.
#2: Your Fitness Goals
The number of squats you should do per day largely depends on your fitness goals.
How many squats should I do a day to lose weight?
Weight loss is essentially a matter of burning more calories than you’re consuming. Exercise can help you achieve a caloric deficit, and squats can burn calories and build muscle, which will increase your metabolic rate.
Squats alone will likely not be sufficient to cause significant weight loss, but aiming for a caloric deficit of 500 calories per day can result in one pound of fat loss per week.
This calorie deficit can be achieved through eating fewer calories and/or expending more calories.
Try working out 5-6 days a week, striving for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week plus two total-body resistance training workouts. During these workouts, do 2-3 sets of 15-25 squats.
How many squats should I do a day to get a bigger butt?
Getting a bigger butt is a product of increasing the size of your glute muscles. Hypertrophy, or muscle building, requires heavy resistance. If you want a bigger butt, aim for 3-5 sets of heavy squats, using a weight you can only handle for 3-8 reps max.
How many squats should I do a day to get in shape?
If your primary fitness goal is overall health and fitness, the recommendation is to do 2-3 total-body strength training workouts per week. During these workouts, aim for 2-3 sets of squats with a weight that you can handle for 12-15 reps.
#3: Type of Squat
There are dozens of variations of squats, all of which offer slight differences in the muscular demand of the exercise. Mixing up the type you do will provide your muscles with a varied stimulus and greater improvements. Examples include back squats, front squats, sumo squats, goblet squats, jump squats, split squats, and isometric squat holds.
#4: Resistance/Intensity of the Squat
If you’re doing bodyweight squats, you might be able to do 100 squats per day or more. However, the more weight you use relative to your personal maximal load, the fewer squats you should do.
#5: Your Overall Workout Program
If squats are the only lower-body exercise in your workout, you can do more of them without overworking your legs.
However, if you’re doing a hard leg day with other exercises like lunges, deadlifts, step-ups, plyometrics, or doing your squats alongside running, cycling, rowing, or other lower-body activities, be mindful of keeping your squat repetitions more moderate so as not to overdo it.
Need some motivation to get your squats in? Check out our 30-day squat challenge for beginners.