You may not have heard of the Hindu squat (also sometimes referred to as the Indian squat) but this adaptation to the regular body squat is a great alternative to building strength, functional movement and stability.
Hindu squats are a bodyweight exercise that don’t require any equipment or gym machines.
This means they can be done at home or when you’re travelling.
It has a loyal following and has been a core exercise for Indian wrestling for centuries.
But what exactly is the Hindu squat, and should you be doing it?
What are Hindu Squats?
The Hind squat is a squat that involves the knees to be ahead of the toes.
For regular squats, any Personal Trainer will always recommend your knees never going past your toes. This ensures you have the best balance and platform to push up against the weight.
However, by squatting with your knees past your toes, you are in fact, replicating very common scenarios in everyday life.
Sports, gardening, playing with your children, standing up, and all sorts of movements, can often mean your knees are past your toes.
So, by training for this, we can improve our ability to do these movements.
The Hindu squat may not be a common exercise, but it reflects really common everyday movements and helps develop functional fitness. The Hindu squat isn’t the best exercise at developing muscle mass, nor is it the best exercise at developing cardio fitness, however, it is certainly up there as an exercise that helps support and improve everyday movements.
How to Do Hindu Squats
Check out the video below that illustrates how to do the perfect Hindu squat. You’ll notice:
- Knees past the toes
- Narrow stance
- Slow and controlled movement
- Arms swing back as you squat down
- Heels up as you squat down
- Spot as your butt reaches your raised heels
- At the lowest, your fingers should be able to just touch the ground
- Pushing down on the balls of your feet, push yourself up to a standing position
- Swing arms forward
- Stand up to rest position and repeat
Hindu Squat Benefits
There are a number of key benefits of Hindu squats, including:
- Improved functional fitness
- Improved ankle flexibility
- Improve Balance and Stability
- Improved Knee Durability
- Improved Agility
- Improved Lateral Movement (which is very useful for sports).
- Stronger Legs (particularly the quads)
Hindu Squats for Bad Knees
Hindu squats offer a range of benefits, but they do put pressure and stress on the knee joints.
This means anyone suffering with knee pain or injuries should absolutely consult a doctor or physio before attempting any exercise that could impact current issues. Activities like swimming are much lower impact on joints and potentially a better alterative for those dealing with long-term injuries (although a physio or doctor will be better placed for such recommendations).
Nevertheless, assuming they are performed correctly they can help develop stronger knees that are more adapt to pressure and strain (helping reduce the risk of injury due to pressure or strain).
So, although it can cause discomfort for your knees, in the long-term, it can help mean your knees are better prepared for whatever is thrown their way (although as mentioned, its always worth checking with a physio or doctor for your specific circumstances).
Weighted Hindu Squats
Once you’ve given Hindu squats a go, you may want to add some weight to make them more challenging. Due to the balance and control needed for Hindu squats, any weight added should start off really low and slowly increased.
To begin with, wearing a weighted vest or wrist weights would make them harder without changing the movement of the exercise.
Due to the arms swings back and forth, if you squatted with a barbell, you wouldn’t be able to do this arm movement.
You could try to hold light dumbbells as this would allow you to still swing your arms. This will be challenging so go as light as possible to begin with.
Getting Started with Hindu Squats
Hindu squats can be a fantastic exercise to help support functional fitness and movement. It is best performed as a slow and controlled movement. It’s always worth consulting a physio or doctor to ensure Hindu squats are right for you and your current state of health.