Hindu Squats and Hindu Pushups | Not Your Average Fitness Tips

Hindu Squats and Hindu Pushups

Hindu squats and Hindu pushups are unique variations of the traditional bodyweight squats and pushups.  Hindu squats, (known as bethaks), and Hindu pushups (known as dands) have been used by Indian wrestlers for decades.  I first learned about these exercises from Matt Furey’s Combat Conditioning.  While I find Furey’s products a bit overhyped, as a former wrestling and kung fu champion, he does know a few things about strength and endurance.

Despite Furey’s claim that these exercises build strength, power, speed, and endurance, I find that Hindu squats and Hindu pushups are actually best treated as an addition to a bodyweight calisthenics program.  These exercises are intended to be done with high reps.  I’m a firm believer that low rep, heavy weight training maximizes strength gains, but have nothing against challenging exercises like Hindu squats and Hindu pushups that improve your cardiovascular system and work your muscles in a slighter different manner than their traditional counterparts.

Hindu Squats

Like traditional squats, Hindu squats work all the muscles in your legs (quads, hamstrings, calves) and also work your hips, lower back, and lungs as well.  To perform a Hindu squat, you stand with your hands pulled into your chest.  As you lower yourself to squat, extend your hands behind you (downward toward the floor).  As you approach the bottom of your squat, raise up on your toes.  Propel yourself upward, at the same time extending your arms in front of you.  Bring your hands in toward your chest and begin a second rep.

A demonstration of Hindu squats:

The key to Hindu squats is that motion should be fluid.  Additionally, breathing takes getting used to.  Instead of inhaling when you descend and exhaling when you rise as you would for a traditional squat, you exhale as you descend and inhale as you stand up.  Done without stopping, Hindu squats lead to a challenging cardiovascular workout.  Matt Furey says 100 reps is a good goal; he claims to have done 2,000 straight…which pales in comparison to the 9,000 straight his mentor Karl Gotch performed over 4 ½ hours.

Hindu Pushups

Hindu pushups are a variation on traditional pushups that involve an arching back motion.  In addition to the arm and shoulder involvement, this arching helps to incorporate the hips and back.  To perform a Hindu pushup, get in a pushup stance.  However, spread your legs wide and stick your butt in the air.  Your arms will be extended straight in front of you.  To execute, bend your elbows, lower your hips, and push through until your arms are straight.  Your hips should be very close to the floor and you should be facing forward.  Keeping your arms straight, move back into the starting position.  Once again, this movement should be relatively fluid.

A demonstration of Hindu pushups:

Hindu pushups are similar to dive bomber pushups with a subtle difference.  Dive bomber pushups involve bending the arms again on the way back to the starting position.  This provides more of an arm workout but reduces the back and shoulder flexibility benefits.

A demonstration of dive bomber pushups:

Benefits of Hindu Squats and Hindu Pushups

While Hindu squats and Hindu pushups won’t necessarily make your muscles tighter or increase your max lifts, they will undoubtedly increase your endurance and cardiovascular conditioning.  These variations on two traditional bodyweight exercises will feel strange at first (maybe even make your muscles sore), but once you get the rhythm down, you can increase the speed of motion that will help provide a better cardiovascular workout.  Overall, Hindu squats and Hindu pushups should improve both your flexibility and stamina.

41 Responses to “Hindu Squats and Hindu Pushups”

  • Definitely something to add to the regime.
    I think nothing quite defines the term ‘mixing it up’ like these exercises do.

    Im pretty sure you’d feel sore in spots you’d never dreamed of the day after.

    Enlightening indeed :)

    C.

  • Thanks I thought i’ve seen most exercises but haven’t seen these Hindi ones before. I think I’ll to work on my knees and rest of my flexibility to get to the full range of movement.
    Raymond

  • Clint,
    Hindu squats and pushups definitely surprise you…especially when you start off with a nice rhythm and find yourself huffing and puffing after 25 reps.

    Raymond,
    Surprisingly, Hindu squats can be very beneficial for your years. They’re not the best if you have a history of knee problems (but no squat is!), but can definitely help improve strength and flexibility to prevent problems down the road.

  • Dave,

    Interesting post. I had never heard of either of these exercises before. Sounds like a good addition to the bodyweight cardio rotation though!

    Alykhan

  • Bodyweight exercises are da best! Good stuff for everyone that thinks they don’t have the time or money to go to the gym… or if they just hate driving out of their way and spending a bunch of money on fees every month… like me! :-)

    I know I am one of the few non-bodybuilders or powerlifters still extolling the virtues of squats, but I’m beginning to believe that bodyweight squats may be more effective than barbell back squats.

  • Alykhan,
    Definitely another great thing to incorporate into your bodyweight routine.

    Darrin,
    As you know, I really enjoy a good plyometrics workout and squat jumps are part of that. Too often I haven’t liked how my body has responded to heavy weight squats. If you believe Matt Furey, Hindu Squats will give you tree trunk legs though…I fortunately haven’t ever experienced that. He talks about the Great Gama who weighted 260lbs at 5’7″ who was undefeated in 5,000 matches and did 4,000 Hindu Squats per day. Not exactly the look I’m going for though (almost twice my current weight!).

    Dave

  • Dave,
    I was going to write something really interesting here until I got to the Youtube video with the BodyRock girl. After watching that, I forget what I was going to say!

  • Kelly,
    I look for any excuse I can get to post her videos…nothing wrong with a good demonstration of divebomb pushups…I know I learned a lot!
    Dave

  • Dave,
    Aw, c’mon? You mean you don’t have a couple hours to spare every day to do thousands of squats? Haha.

  • Sifter:

    Hindu squats work the the quads, calves (!) and glutes for sure.
    But hamstrings? Its claimed, but I don’t see how. Your weight is shifted forward, you’re on your balls of feet for part of it… all quad-dominant moves. My quads get rock hard, but I don’t see how the hamstrings come into play AT ALL. Which is why I’m tempted to go back to my deadlifts. Lunges, Hindu squats and similar all work the quad dominant side of things. Very little hammie work.

    Seperately, anybody having back issues with the squats? Lately my SI joint has been bothering me from Hindu squats. I’m doing small sets (10-20) not bouncing, etc. Appreciate any input or help with this, thanks.

  • Sifter,
    You’re right, the focus is more on quads, but they do recruit hamstring muscles as well. Since your hamstrings (and glutes also) are such big muscles, you probably just don’t notice as much. It can take a good deal of work to really push those muscles. Hindu squats definitely work hamstrings more some other variations like half squats though.

    As for the back issues, I can’t offer too much advice since I’m not a doctor. Do you squat with your back straight? Are you putting too much tension on your back when performing deadlifts? Is this a recurring injury from your past? If the pain continues, I would take a week off to see if it subsides and go from there.

    Dave

  • Sam:

    These look intense. I’ve never heard of a Hindu Squat or Push-up before. These would definitely be a new challenge.

  • Sam,
    They are unique movements. On the surface, they seem easy but once you start to do them, you quickly realize how challenging they can be. Watch for soreness the next day as well!
    Dave

  • Robin:

    If someone asked me I had to choose only one exercise using only bodyweight; the Hindu Squat would be my immediate choice.
    If all you strong young blokes only did leg work after one month you’d be very surprised at the remarkable change in you body but also your metabolism.
    In Chinese medicine the quads relate to the small intestines and the hamstrings relate to the large bowel.
    If these two systems are healthy and functioning you will have wonderful strength but more importantly good health.

    Eat wisely guys.

    Best…..Robin

  • Robin,
    Excellent advice. Thanks!
    Dave

  • Robin:

    Very kind Dave. Thankyou.

    Best…..Robin

  • I’ll be adding both of these to my regime. I’ve been making slow steady progress using bodyweight cals ever since I found your blog. Believe it or not, I started being able to do only 2 pushups. I’m up to 10 now. I’ve been increasing by about 1 rep per 2 days. Dropping pounds as well. Of course my son bangs out 67 pushups in 60 seconds at school the other day.

  • Robin:

    Hey Nathan, keep going. Eat wisely. Remember more protein developes energy; energy developes heat. Drink a little more water. Juices are worth investigating.
    Nuts (not peanuts!) and seeds are excellent choices for a food source.
    Remember to cycle your exercise. Six days on; one day off. Six weeks on; one week off, etc.

    Best regards…..Robin

  • Nathan,
    Congrats on working your way up on pushups. Before you know it, you’ll give your son a run for his money!

    Robin,
    Thanks for the continued feedback and tips.

    Dave

  • Chris:

    Robin,
    I’ve never heard of a cycle of 6 weeks on and 1 week off. I’m wondering if that means a break from ALL exercise during the off week. What about months? 6 months on and 1 month off? This is an interesting idea…

  • Chris,
    For what it’s worth, I like to take 3-4 days off every 6 weeks and a full week off every 12 weeks. Here’s more on that topic:

    http://www.notyouraveragefitnesstips.com/best-fitness-tips/muscle-confusion-workout-how-often-to-change-workout-routine

    Dave

  • Robin:

    Hey there Chris; it’s good to see your thinking. There appears to be a strong case for this cycling principle given to us via the scriptures.

    Work 6 days take one day off.

    Work six or seven years and take one year off.

    At my stage in life I’ve realized that busting our buns all the time is not good physically and certainly not psychologically.
    If you put the 6 on 1 off theory to the test it will yield interesting results.

    I am a great fan of Mike Mentzer’s HIT. Do a serious w/o and take 3-5 days to recover. I found when I did that, going to the gym after those days off was something to look forward to. It was great. I never suffered burnout mentally or physically. It may be worth some consideration.

    The principle of activity must have a purpose. Hacking away at the gym for it’s own sake has always been a dubious activity to me. Doing the Mike Mentzer routine allows you to do serious exercise, make good gains and have time to live a life being useful to others, while still maintaining a good, and hopefully, a healthy physique.

    And remember, strength, bulk and fitness isn’t necessarily health!

    The Creator gave us intelligence for a purpose. It appears to me we need to spend a fair chunk of our time finding that purpose.

    Good health to all of you.

    Best regards…..Robin

  • Toni:

    Dave,

    Does performing squats help in the glutes department, particularly with the firmness and um, roundness (sorry to be so blunt!)?

    I really started to focus on this ‘area’ as of late and that’s all I’m hearing from everyone is how squats are supposed to really help out. Or is this just false?

    Just curious.

  • Toni,
    Squats will definitely increase the size of your legs and tighten up your butt. The problem is that this area of your body can add a lot of mass pretty quickly. You might not want your legs to get too big but that’s up to you. Doing Hindu squats is great because it’s a bodyweight exercise so you won’t add mass quite as quickly relative to performing heavy weight squats.
    Dave

  • Toni:

    Dave,
    I have a mini-fitness goal of being able to do a handstand pushup – even just one or two reps by the end of this year. I’m able to do “full” pushups and go down pretty far, almost touching my chest to the ground and back up with no problem. I can also do freestanding handstands since childhood. It’s so frustrating because I can get myself in position against the wall and come down but not back up again to complete the vertical pushup. Is this something that will naturally happen once my shoulders get stronger? I’m not shocked that I can’t do it because my arms continue to be my weakest link and I’m not deadlifting or bench pressing even half of my BW yet. Is there something I should be doing but aren’t?
    ~Toni

  • Toni,
    Handstand pushups are extremely challenging and it takes a lot of shoulder strength to do them. Being able to support yourself in a handstand is a good first step. I’ve actually used the progression laid out in Convict Conditioning and am now working on doing close grip handstand pushups. If you can perform a handstand, the progression from there is to do half handstand pushups and then work up to full handstand pushups. I would recommend balancing yourself against the wall since trying to maintain your balance while completing a handstand pushup just makes it more challenging. If you can’t do half handstand pushups yet, then you’ll just have to keep improving your shoulder strength and work on holding the handstand position for a couple minutes.
    Dave

  • Toni:

    Thanks, I’ll try the recommendations you suggested. It looks easy but is deceivingly more difficult than I thought.

  • Toni,
    Continue to work on regular pushups as well. If you need to increase their difficulty, you could do decline pushups (feet elevated).
    Dave

  • Toni:

    Dave,
    The stage of the program I’m doing has me doing pushups regularly. Someone suggested doing pike pushups as a starting point. What are they?
    ~Toni

  • Toni,
    Pike pushups would be a decent starting point. You essentially get in a similar starting position to Hindu pushups but instead of pushing up and lowering your hips, you simply stay in the starting position and do pushups. Youtube has some good videos as it’s hard to accurately describe.
    Dave

  • Toniann71:

    Dave,
    They had a trainer on one of the afternoon talk shows today demonstrating Hindu pushups. It’s essentially a yoga move to start and then goes into a pike pushup. I don’t know why I was making it harder than it is. I should be doing these too.
    ~Toni

  • Toni,
    It’s not hard in theory but it’s actually pretty challenging in practice to perform them. Give them a shot and let me know how it goes.
    Dave

  • Cleen:

    Lol. Wonder why Toni is hatin on peanuts? Well as for me I use it as a source of protein every morning in my oatmeal (a big scoop of peanut butter) as well as peanut butter sandwiches for snacks too, but I have noticed I’ve added muscle growth keeping it in my breakfast routine. Yes it is fattening but it has good fats too, and for those 44 yr olds who build muscle it is very beneficial and hasnt made me fat, but helped me maintain and grow more muscle.

  • Cleen,
    I have no real problem with peanuts either. Some other nuts may be healthier, but if you’re trying to add mass, peanuts are an excellent source of protein and healthy fat.
    Dave

  • pink:

    Hi Dave, The hindu squats looks interesting but is it the best workout for toning the lower body (especially the thighs)? Im a slim girl but my thighs are becoming my problem area and i need a solution. Thanks!

  • Pink
    For toning legs (without adding mass), I’d recommend avoiding direct leg training for the most part. If you’re performing HIIT, then you’ll get a lean set of legs. That being said, bodyweight exercises like Hindu squats aren’t likely to add much mass so you can include them in your routine. If you’re worried more about fat burning, then it’s all about diet and intense exercise since you can’t spot reduce.
    Dave

  • Robin:

    Hi Pink, I’ve struggled with blood sugar and health issues for a long time.
    (And Dave….I hope you don’t mind me sharing this info here. I have no financial or otherwise with the Mercola site.)
    Recently I got on to Nutritional Typing. Wow. I can’t believe the wonderful difference it has made in my life. You’ll benefit from weight control because it steers away from poor quality foods; but most of all the foods you eat are right for your body type and metabolism.
    There is a free test and free info on exactly what foods are best for your type.
    Go to this link: http://www.mercola.com/nutritionplan/index.htm…and go to the bottom of the page where it says take the test.

    Hey everyone else; I’d really encourage you to take the test also. It is a revelation after you change to the foods that are correct for your type.

    Best regards….Robin

  • Robin:

    Pink, check out Nutritional Typing at: http://www.mercola.com/nutritionplan/index.htm.
    Everyone else should too. It is a revelation after you’ve been on correct food for a week. My glucose levels plummeted to normal in a week. Duh!
    And Dave, I trust you won’t mind me sharing this info here, as I believe it’s important.

    Best regards….Robin

  • pink:

    Thanks so much Dave and Robin for the tips. I just read your detailed post on “HITT” and will include it in my routine. Thanks again:-)

  • Robin,
    Thanks for the insights!

    Pink,
    Best of luck to you!

    Dave

  • dan:

    A lot of things bother about this article/ the comments. top two things: barbell (and other types of) squats don’t work out your legs. They work out everything. From your endurance to your pecs to your central nervous system and your coordination. Second, they are great for your knees. They’re by far the way to prevent knee injuries. If they hurt your knees, that doesn’t mean squats are bad or that you’re lifting too much. It means you need to recognize you messed it up and didn’t have good form. Otherwise, its always nice to learn a form of a squat, thanks guys

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