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The impact that squats have on metabolism may at first seem implausible, but this concept is science fact, not fiction. This simple exercise has been dubbed the "King" of exercises due to its ability to shape the lower body while raising the basal metabolic rate. Adding squats to your workouts can enhance your overall fitness.
Muscles and Metabolism
The presence of lean muscle tissue has a direct and quantifiable correlation to the amount of calories your body burns at rest, or your basal metabolic rate. In simple terms, the more lean muscle in your body, the higher your metabolism, and the better you burn adipose tissue -- fat. After puberty, your body's metabolism gradually slows as your body loses muscle tissue with each decade. This leads to a higher fat-to-muscle ratio and loss of muscle tone. Maintaining, and adding, muscle tissue with a regular fitness program combats this effect.
Squats and Metabolic Rate
Squats directly work all of the muscles of your lower body, including the large muscles of your quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes. They also impact your central core as it stabilizes you during the exercise. Three to five sets of squats, 20 to 25 reps each performed twice weekly, tones muscles in the lower body similar to weight training. During recovery postworkout, you add new fat-burning lean muscle tissue, which in turn drives up your metabolism.
Squats can be done while holding dumbells or without weights. When performed unweighted, your body weight provides resistance. Observing correct form prevents injury and offers the greatest benefit from the exercise. Stand straight, feet at least shoulder-width apart, with toes pointed slightly outward to help with mainitaining balance. Extend your arms straight out in front of you at shoulder level. Keep your head level, tighten your abs and push your hips back as you squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold for a moment, then stand up and lower your arms. This counts as one repetition.
The Role of Protein
Most people are aware of the role that amino acids and protein play in muscle synthesis. In short, proteins are made of amino acids, and protein is the primary building block of your muscles. Exercise physiologists have determined that the body is most receptive to macronutrients such as carbohydrates and proteins immediately after exercise. Take advantage of this finding by consuming a low-fat, high-protein meal or shake after your workouts to assist your body in building and maintaining metabolism-boosting muscle tissue.