Pushups, the regular version and its variations focus on the pectoral or the chest muscles. Since pushups have their own limitations (especially when we look at isolation workouts for the muscle groups), we often have to choose between bench press or the pushups. Here the former has an edge when it comes to strength building but pushups give a wholesome workout compared to the bench press due to their many possible variations. One popular and effective variant of the regular pushup is the Hindu pushup or the Indian pushup, which can provide a full-body workout if done sticking to the correct form.
Hindu pushups target more muscles
The Hindu pushup is a compound exercise and a variation of the standard/regular pushups. They have been used by wrestlers and martial artists of South Asia.
“It is far more complex and targets many more muscles compared to the regular pushups,” says Gautham Sangappa, a fitness consultant and founder of Proton Fitness Academy, Bangalore. “The regular pushups work the middle muscle fibres of the pectoralis major muscle (chest) and to some extent the anterior deltoids and the triceps. In the Hindu pushups, you use all the muscle fibres — upper, middle, and lower fiber of the pectoralis major and even the entire deltoid muscle.”
How to do Hindu pushups
The Hindu pushups can be mastered by practicing and getting each of the below postures right. One hits upon the correct form of the Hindu pushups when the positions – derived from yoga poses – are woven together and executed one after the other in a smooth movement, explains Sangappa.
Step 1: Downward dog position
- Start by getting down on all fours, placing the palms shoulder width apart on the ground.
- Raise the backside, with the legs, arms, and back extended and straight, coming to an inverted ‘V’ position.
- This posture in yoga is called the adhomukhasana
- This works the muscles in the back, posterior deltoids, posterior trapezius and triceps.
Step 2: Deep pushup position
- From the downward dog position, you lower the elbow and knees and go down to get to the deep pushup plank position.
- In this low plank position, the chest and knee are very close to the floor, but there is no contact.
- This posture in yoga is called chaturanga dandasana.
- This works on the upper and middle muscle fibers of the pectoralis major along with the core muscles.
Step 3: Upward dog position
- From the low plank position, arch the back and try to look as high as possible to get into the upward dog position.
- Here, the elbows, hips, and knees should not be in contact with the floor. Only the palms and toes touch the ground.
- This posture in yoga is called urdhva mukha svanasana.
- This engages the lower muscle fibers of the pectoralis major, triceps and tightens the quadriceps.
From this position you get back to the starting position or downward dog position and continue to do as many repetitions required.
Variation of Hindu pushups and its benefits
While the Hindu pushup gives a good workout to most of the muscles in the body, it can be made more dynamic if we combine it with squats.
“You can begin by doing a squat and then go on to get into the downward dog position to do a Hindu pushup,” says Sangappa. “Every time you finish a Hindu pushup with a downward dog position, you can probably just do a deep squat before doing the next repetition.”
Though pushups efficiently strengthen upper body muscles — shoulders, arms and core — doing Hindu pushups can step up the gains.
“It uses more muscles when compared to a regular pushup, increases the metabolic activity and burns more calories making it a far better workout. When combined with a squat it becomes a complete body exercise,” adds Sangappa.
- The Hindu pushup is a compound exercise that targets far more muscles than the standard/regular pushups.
- The three important postures in a Hindu/Indian pushup include the downward dog position, deep pushup position, and upward dog position.
- When done for several repetitions, it increases metabolic activity and burns more calories.