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Within strength training circles, squatting is not a new thing. In fact, over time it’s grown in popularity due to its many benefits including weight loss, muscle building and improvements to mobility and joint health.
When most people think of squats, they typically picture someone in the gym performing a standard barbell squat.
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However, there are many variations of the squat, all of which offer slight differences in their technique and benefits.
One such variation is the Hindu squat.
In this article we consider the benefits of Hindu squats along with tips on how to execute them with proper form.
What Are Hindu Squats?
The Hindu squat, sometimes referred to as Indian squats, is a functional body weight exercise that involves rowing the arms whilst simultaneously squatting down and raising your heels off the ground to push back up.
It’s performed as one continuous and fluid movement for repetitions.
In Hindi, the action of lowering yourself in a squat position is referred to as ‘ Dand Baithak.’
Another important component of the Hindu squat is that of breathing patterns.
Breathing during a Hindu squat is different when compared to a conventional squat, where you would typically inhale prior to descent in order to create abdominal pressure and then exhale whilst powering back up.
Breathing whilst performing Hindu squats is what’s known as anatomical breathing.
This involves coordinating inhaling and exhaling with the movement patterns of the exercise and is more beneficial for endurance allowing you to perform at higher rep ranges.
Due to raising up on to the balls of your feet, performing Hindu squats requires better balance and coordination when compared to other types of squats.
Strong abdominals and good ankle mobility help to execute the movement in the right way and with full range of motion.
Which Muscles Do Hindu Squats Work?
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As the knees go over the toes at the bottom of a Hindu squat, this makes them especially good for activating the vastus medialis (the VMO).
This is one of the four muscles comprising the quads that is sometimes referred to as the teardrop.
Placing emphasis on this muscle leads to greater hypertrophy and excellent carry over to more explosive movements with better athletic performance.
Benefits Of Hindu Squats
When executed with correct form and full range of motion there are several benefits of the Hindu squat.
As the Hindu squat is a multi-joint exercise that requires a significant amount of balance, when performed regularly you’ll quickly see positive improvements to your coordination.
This in turns increases mobility to certain joints making everyday activities easier whilst helping to alleviate common aches and pains.
Burn More Calories
Hindu squats are usually performed at high rep ranges for a sustained period. This improves cardiovascular strength, increases the metabolism and helps you to burn more calories which may reduce body fat.
As it’s a high repetition exercise, overtime Hindu squats will help to increase strength to your tendons and ligaments. This helps to make you more flexible, less prone to injury and more resilient.
Increase Muscle Endurance
When performing a high number of repetitions this helps to increase a person’s muscular endurance.
This can translate to better posture and making every day functional movements easier on the body, whether that’s climbing the stairs or carrying your groceries.
There are multiple joints activated during the Hindu squat, these include the ankles, knees, hips and shoulders.
This makes it one of the best exercises for helping to improve mobility over time.
Reduced mobility and stiffness to the joints is very common amongst people due to our largely sedentary lifestyles.
Increase Muscle Mass
Even though the Hindu squat falls under the category of bodyweight squats, it still allows for muscle hypertrophy, especially to the leg muscles.
If you want to focus on developing your teardrop muscle for defined looking quads, this is a great exercise for doing just that.
Improve Blood Circulation
As your cardiovascular endurance improves this will equate to better blood circulation.
Good circulation is vital for overall body health as it provides the organs of the body with adequate oxygen and nutrients.
How To Do a Hindu Squat?
As mentioned, there are a few differences between a traditional squat and a Hindu squat.
Here’s How To Perform A Hindu Squat:
- Start by standing upright with feet shoulder-width apart and your arms extended out in front of you. This is your starting position.
- Inhale and extend your arms back and just behind you (as though reaching for your back pockets) and do this as you squat down.
- Keep your head up and torso upright throughout the movement.
- At the bottom of the movement, sweep your arms back out in front of you and begin to raise your heels off of the ground.
- Exhale whilst pushing through the balls of your feet back to an upright stance.
- Whilst you are raising back up, bring your arms back out in front of you to the starting position.
The Hindu squat has a pattern that closely mimics that of jumping where you would push back the hips whilst extending the shoulders to provide momentum.
Most squat variations are technically challenging movements and proper technique is essential to prevent injury.
If you’re new to the exercise, it’s a good idea to seek advice from a qualified professional or personal trainer. Be sure to mention if you have any pre-existing knee injuries, as this exercise may not be suitable for you.
Hindu Squat Variations
As mentioned above, there are many squat variations that you can incorporate into your training routine. Below are some alternatives to the Hindu squat.
The sissy squat exercise is a great alternative to the Hindu squat that focusses on the vastus medialis helping to increase muscle mass and strength.
It’s certainly not an easier alternative and if you have knee problems you may want to give this one a miss.
If you find the Hindu squat hard on the joints to begin with due to mobility issues, the Asian squat is perfect to start out.
The Asian squat is simply a deep squat that involves the hamstrings resting on the calves.
By performing this daily and holding this position for as long as possible can really help improve mobility to the ankle joints and hip flexors making the Hindu squat a good progression.
The frog squat is a good beginner squat that can improve mobility to both the ankles and knees whilst increasing flexibility to the posterior chain muscles.
If you want to address any such issues before attempting the Hindu squat, this is a good option.
Kettlebell Sumo Squat
The sumo squat involves squatting with your feet positioned at a wider stance (feet beyond shoulder width apart).
They are ideal to target the inner thigh muscles and help to improve flexibility and stability. By incorporating a kettlebell will increase the resistance making this more challenging.
Virtually all squat variations allow you to work on improving leg strength and some are easier to perform than others so before adding some squats into your workout, determine which best suit your needs and goals.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Hindu Squats Better Than Regular Squats?
Hindu squats are not better than conventional barbell squats, they are simply different with the focus being more on improving mobility and co-ordination.
Conversely, a barbell squat is usually performed with heavier weight loads and for much fewer reps with the aim of increasing strength and muscle mass.
Can Hindu Squats Build Mass?
Hindu squats can result in muscle hypertrophy but not to the same degree as barbell squats where weight is involved.
Hindu squats are ideal for improving endurance and can certainly offer good carry over to regular back squats for improved muscle gains.
Can Hindu Squats Cause Lower Back Pain?
Any squat variation can result in low back pain.
The primary cause of this is likely down to improper squat form. When the squat is performed incorrectly, a common mistake is that of rounding the lumbar spine adding excessive stress.
This may be due to tight hip flexors, in which case focus on improving mobility to this area before proceeding to Hindu squats.
How Often Should I Perform Hindu Squats
You should aim to perform a certain number of Hindu squats everyday.
As it’s a functional bodyweight exercise, you’re not stressing the muscles with excessive weight but instead helping to keep your body flexible and supple which is vital for overall health. This is different when compared to a squat such as the barbell back squat.
This is because lifting heavy weights for muscle growth can stimulate the central nervous system which then needs ample recovery time.
Hindu squats are a traditional squat movement that dates back centuries having been performed by Indian wrestlers as part of their weight training.
The benefits of this highly effective exercise are proven so be sure to set aside time during your day to add in some Hindu squats.