Hindu Squat: Benefits, Technique, Muscles Worked, and Variations

Hindu Squat Guide

Physical, mental, and spiritual health is essential for overall well-being and quality of life. Disciplines to deal with each of these aspects of life originated in ancient Indian, one of them being yoga. Hindu saints and sages have been preaching exercising and the importance of staying fit since time immemorable.

Sage Patanjali put together the Yoga sūtras, a text on yoga theory and practice that describes different exercises and poses to build strength, awareness, and harmony in both the mind and body.

Hundreds of years ago, Hindu pehlwans (grapplers) started using a variation of mālāsana (squat) called baithak (Hindu squat) in their training routines. The exercise overloads your lower body, core, and stabilizers by putting it in a position where it must fight to stay afloat, which helps build strength, coordination, balance, and agility. It is still used by Indian wrestlers practicing the ancient Indian martial art in akharas (wrestling pits).

The Hindu squat (baithak) grew in popularity as kushti (wrestling) went mainstream. Bruce Lee introduced the Hindu squat to the west after reading articles about the training regimen of legendary Indian wrestler Gama Pehlwan.

In this article, we’ll be going over the benefits, the correct technique of performing the Hindu squat, the muscles it targets, the differences between the conventional and Hindu squat, and its variations.

Related: Yoga For Bigger and Stronger Muscles?

Muscles Targeted in Hindu Squat

Owing to its muscle, strength, and gymnastics benefits, the variation of the air (bodyweight) squat has gained a cult following in fitness and bodybuilding circles over the last few years. These are the muscles you can target using the Hindu squat:

  1. Shoulders: The squat variation can help improve your shoulder mobility as it involves swinging your arms back and forth throughout the exercise. You could give your shoulders a better workout by holding onto a light pair of dumbbells while performing the lift.
  2. Core: Hindu squats depend on your core and stabilizers to help balance your body during the exercise. You’ll also feel a greater lower back engagement to maintain control, good posture, and coordination.
  3. Glutes: Glutes are the largest and strongest muscle group in your body. They help you push yourself back up from the bottom of the lift.
  4. Hip flexors: The Hindu squat can help increase your hip flexor mobility and strength. You might notice an improvement in your lower body range of motion after performing the exercise for a few weeks.
  5. Quadriceps: Quads are the primary target muscle of the Hindu squat. The raised heels activate your quads to a greater degree than the standard squats.
  6. Hamstrings: Being on your toes while performing the lift puts tension on your hamstrings as you need to engage them to control the descent.
  7. Calves: Since you’ll be raising your heels while performing the exercise, it results in greater calf recruitment than the conventional squat.
  8. Ankles: Tight ankles are one of the biggest reasons behind a restricted range of motion while performing the conventional squat. The Hindu squat can help improve the flexibility and mobility in your ankles.

Must Read: Mobility Training for Bodybuilders, Powerlifters, and Weightlifters

Benefits of Performing the Hindu Squat

Here are the benefits of including the squat variation in your training regimen:

1. Improves Balance and Coordination

Hindu squats help improve your balance and strengthen your core stabilizers as you need to balance yourself on your heels for a good part of the exercise.

Since you need to raise your heels while lowering yourself into a squat while simultaneously swinging your arms, the baithak helps improve your mind-muscle coordination and connection.

2. Better at Burning Calories than Conventional Squats

Anybody who has performed the conventional squat even once will attest that they are one of the easiest ways to break a sweat. The Hindu squat takes the calorie-burning effect up a notch by having you swing your arms throughout the lift. It can also aid in improving your muscle and cardiovascular endurance and stamina.

The dynamic nature of the exercise can also improve your power and strength for activities like jumping, running, and sprinting that require shoulder, arm, and lower body explosiveness.

3. Helps Build Strength and Muscle Mass

Like the orthodox squats, baithak is a full-body compound (multi-joint) exercise great for building strength and muscle mass. The other great thing about the Hindu squat is that it is a bodyweight exercise, and you can perform it anywhere. Furthermore, it is a great exercise for when you’re running short on time.

4. Improves Mobility and Posture

To perform the Hindu squat, you need to swing your arms while simultaneously raising yourself on your toes, resulting in better shoulder, ankle, and lower back mobility.

The improved range of motion can help fix your posture. The baithak is a great exercise for people who spend most of their days hunched over their phones or computer screens.

How To Perform Hindu Squat

The Hindu squat is a more dynamic and flowing variation of the standard air squat and requires balance, controlled breathing, and overall body coordination.

Here is how to perform the Hindu squat using the correct form:

  1. Stand upright with a shoulder-width stance. Your arms should be at your sides at the starting position.
  2. Begin the movement by extending your arms straight out in front so they are parallel to the floor.
  3. On an inhale, push back your hips and descend into a squat while lifting your heels off the floor.
  4. As you lower yourself towards the floor, pull your arms towards your body and circle them behind you.
  5. At the bottom of your movement, you should be sitting on the balls of your feet and your hands should be above your toes.
  6. While exhaling sharply, push your body up to the starting position and raise your arms so that they are perpendicular to your body. Your feet should be placed flat on the floor at this position.
  7. Repeat for recommended repetitions.

Hindu Squats Tips

Since there are many moving parts in this exercise, you need to be careful while performing the lift, as an incorrect form can lead to an injury.

  1. Maintain the natural arch in your back throughout the exercise. Do not lean forward as you lower into a squat.
  2. Keep your core, quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves activated to stabilize your body.
  3. Looking straight forward while performing the exercise can help maintain an upright torso. Avoid looking down to minimize the chances of bending forward.
  4. If you are a beginner facing stability issues, stand with a slightly wider than shoulder-width stance to improve your balance.
  5. Beginners could break into the exercise by only limiting the exercise to the lower body movement. Add arm movement to the mix when you’re comfortable balancing yourself on the balls of your feet.

Are Hindu Squats Backs of Your Knees?

Broscientists will tell you that baithaks can put unwanted tension on your knees at the bottom of the movement. However, there is no scientific evidence to prove that the exercise can harm your knees.

Contrarily, if done with the correct form, Hindu squats can help improve knee health by boosting joint mobility. It can also aid in building overall strength and muscle mass and prevent injury by enhancing your range of motion.

If you have old man knees or are dealing with lower-body injuries, you should be use lifting accessories like knee sleeves or wraps to alleviate stress from your knees.

Related: The Best Lifting Accessories You Must Have In Your Bag

Hindu vs Conventional Squat

What are the Differences Between Hindu Squat and Conventional Squat?

The Hindu squat is different from other squat variations in the following ways:

  1. Baithak results in the recruitment of a greater number of muscle groups as you’ll be moving your upper and lower body throughout the exercise.
  2. The explosive and dynamic nature of the movement results in a higher fat burn than the conventional squat. It can also spike your metabolic rate, helping burn more calories throughout the day.
  3. The Hindu squat places less stress on your lower back as it allows better mobility since you do not have to keep your heels planted on the floor.
  4. Baithak requires better balance, coordination, and motor skills to make the most of the exercise.

The differences between the Hindu and conventional squat might not look substantial on paper, but you will feel the difference by the time you are done with your first set of the exercise.

Hindu Squat Variations

Here are a few Hindu squat variations you should try:

1. Weighted Hindu Squat

If the bodyweight Hindu squats start feeling too easy, you could challenge yourself by performing squat pulses or holding onto a pair of dumbbells or weight plates while performing the exercise.

While performing the weighted baithak, you will be holding a weight plate or dumbbell in each hand. Remember: Start with a light weight — 2.5 pounds — and make your way up the dumbbell rack after ensuring you are not sacrificing your form to stroke your ego.

2. Sissy Squat

How to perform sissy squat:

  1. Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Roll your shoulders back and down and extend your arms straight so they are parallel to the floor. Use your arms to maintain balance while performing the exercise.
  3. Raise your heels off the floor. You’ll be staying on the balls of your feet throughout the exercise.
  4. Slowly bend your knees and push them forward as though you want to touch the floor with your kneecaps.
  5. Return to the starting position in a slow and controlled motion.
  6. Repeat for recommended reps.


  1. If you are a beginner, you could practice while holding onto an elevated object at waist level.
  2. Experienced lifters can take the sissy squats to the next level by performing the exercise on a hack squat machine. Hack squat sissy squats were made famous by Tom Platz.

3. Frog Squat

How to perform frog squat:

  1. Stand upright with a wider than shoulder-width stance.
  2. Push your hips back and bend at your knees to lower your body into a squat.
  3. From the bottom of the squat, drive through your heels to push your glutes upward until your hips are above your knee level. Your torso will be parallel to the floor at the top, your knees bent, and your back straight.
  4. Slowly lower your glutes back into the bottom of the squat.
  5. Repeat for recommended reps.

4. Front Squat

How to perform front squat:

  1. Stretch your elbows forward and place a barbell in the ‘shelve’ formed on the front side of your shoulders.
  2. You could use a clean or cross grip to hold the barbell. Keep your elbows raised throughout the exercise to ensure the barbell doesn’t roll forward.
  3. Take a deep breath, tighten your core, and begin the movement by pushing your hips back and down and knees out to lower into a squat.
  4. Descend until your upper legs are at least parallel to the floor.
  5. Drive through your heels to return to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for reps.

[Related: Front Squat Hypertrophy Guide]

5. Goblet Squat

How to perform goblet squat:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and toes pointed straight ahead.
  2. Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell with both hands in front of your chest.
  3. Sit your hips back and bend your knees to lower yourself into a squat.
  4. Go as deep as you can comfortably or at least until your upper legs are parallel to the floor.
  5. Drive through your heels to return to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for recommended reps.

Next Read: The 7 Best Yoga Poses for Bodybuilders

Wrapping Up

The Hindu squat is a great exercise to work your calves, hamstrings, glutes, quads, balance, and mind-muscle coordination. It is an easy-to-perform (and almost forgotten) exercise that needs to be re-introduced in new-age bodybuilding and fitness training regimens.

If you want to upgrade your leg training routine, you should add the baithak to your exercise arsenal. Finally, you are only limited by your imagination on how you could incorporate the bodyweight exercise into your training routine. Best of luck!


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