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Power match-up: Indian pushups vs regular pushups

Power match-up: Indian pushups vs regular pushups

Though both versions bring a lot of benefits, the range of movement that Indian pushups facilitates is much higher, resulting in more muscles being loaded
Indian pushups, or the Hindu pushups, has elements of yoga in it too, the movement beginning with parvatasana and ending with bhujangasana.
Indian pushups (Hindu pushups), common in traditional wrestling academies (akharas), have many takers in modern gyms too

Pushups, inarguably the most popular upper body workout, are quite versatile. Pushups and their variations are used as a warm-up before hitting the machines or lifting weights, and as a standalone workout as well. Talking about variations, most of them revolve around changes in the position of the palm on the ground and the elevation or angle of the legs. Then there are Indian pushups, also known as Hindu pushups, which are a major departure from the regular versions.

The immediate visual association we have of the Indian or Hindu pushups is with the akharas [traditional Indian wrestling academies]. The wrestlers vouch for it. Though regular gym goers stick to the normal pushups, Indian pushups have seen an increase of takers too of late.

The range of movement (ROM) the Indian pushup facilitates is much higher than a regular pushup. That translates to more muscles being loaded, making it seem a better choice for a wholesome workout. However, there is more to it than what meets the eye.

Regular vs Indian pushups: The muscles involved

The muscles that get a workout are different in two forms. The regular one mainly targets the back muscles, chest muscles, rectus abdominis (core) and quadriceps (thighs). The Indian version targets a wide range – from chest muscles to the deltoids, back muscles, triceps, lower back muscles, core, glutes, and legs.

Clearly, the joints involved in the range of movement are higher in Indian pushups.

“A high number of joint involvements means more muscle groups are getting involved in an exercise,” says Pankaj Narsian, a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) and the head coach at Muscle Layman, Mumbai. “Another difference between the movements is the degree of range of motion of the muscle. The range of motion helps in understanding the amount of tension which is being created in the muscle. Lastly, loading is also essential to increase the strength of the muscles.”

In regular pushups, the shoulder and elbow joints are involved while in Indian (Hindu) pushups, the hip, shoulders, and elbow joints are involved. So, due to the movement pattern, a larger number of joints are employed, with higher muscle activation as compared to the regular form.

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Which pushups are the best?

There is no clear-cut winner. Experts recommend including both in the schedule.

“An individual’s goal whether it is toning the physique or increasing muscle mass, doesn’t affect the exercise selection,” says Narsian. “A combination of both pushup styles should be done for an effective upper body workout. Additionally, the trainee should do Hindu pushups during a specific warm-up phase with approximately two sets of 8 to 10 counts as it takes the shoulder joint through a more extensive range of motion. Standard push ups with three to four sets of 10 to 12 counts should be done during a chest-focused training day.”

Yoga in Indian pushups

Former Commonwealth Games and Asian Games medal-winning wrestler Kripa Shankar’s training used to revolve around Hindu pushups.

 “For wrestling two things are important, one is increasing the strength in muscles and the other is about increasing suppleness in joints,” says the international wrestler-turned-coach based in Bhopal. “In the dands (Hindu pushups), joints like the shoulder, elbow, and wrist move forward and backwards, so these stretches lead to agility and suppleness in the joints. It helps increase joint strength and joint agility apart from muscle strength. It also brings in flexibility to the body which is important in preventing injuries.”

The movement of the Indian push ups includes two yoga poses – the parvatasana and the bhujangasana. The starting position of the exercise resembles the parvatasana pose while the ending position resembles the bhujangasana. These two poses provide benefits ranging from strengthening the forearms, and the back and leg muscles, to increasing flexibility and reducing the stiffness of the lower back and hamstrings among others.

It has its detractors too with repeated to-and-fro gyration of the shoulder joint cited as a cause for injuries in the region. That happens when a person does it in excess, say, experts.


  1. Both the Indian pushups/hindu pushups and the regular ones help in increasing upper body strength and stamina as well
  2. Apart from strength and endurance, Indian pushups, due to their wide range of motion, work the lower body, core and hips as well, and also aid in keeping the joints supple, say experts.
  3. Experts suggest adding both types of pushups to enjoy a wide range of benefits.

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