Hindu Squats Build Explosive Endurance
Hindu squats (bethaks) are an exercise, like Hindu pushups (dands), that have been used by Indian wrestlers for centuries to build explosive lower body strength, power, speed and endurance. They have been made famous world-wide in recent years due to Matt Furey's international best-selling Combat Conditioning as well as his advanced form of training found in the Gama Fitness course.
Matt Furey performing Hindu Squats
Unlike barbell squats and weight training exercises for the legs, which often cause severe trauma and injury to knee joints and lower backs - Hindu squats actually rehabiliate the knees while strengthening the muscles of the legs. The key is working into them slowly. Never force progress in this exercise.
Many people involved in weight training are shocked at how difficult this seeming simple looking exercise can be.
Can you get stronger doing this so-called "free hand" leg exercise while also staying away from barbell and dumbbell squats? Absolutely. Can you develop greater muscle mass with this bodyweight exercise? Again, absolutely. The Great Gama of India was 5'7" and 260 pounds of streaming steal, with thighs so heavily muscled they resemble the proverbial "tree stumps."
Legend has it that Gama of India, who never lost once in 5000 matches, did 4,000 bethaks each day. These numbers are grossly inflated - but the fact of the matter is that Gama did do this exercise daily and he was unstoppable. Combat athletes, such as wrestlers, martial artists, boxers and football players, who have adopted this exercise are experiencing similar results - and so are the "average" man and woman who simply want to get into better shape fast.
Hindu squats when done properly and combined with deep breathing, not only strengthen the entire body, but they rehabiliate the knees and ankles and build phenomenal lung power. For those who are used to barbell squats, you'll find these squats to be a vigorous workout. Even those who can squat 500 or more pounds struggle with 50-straight bethaks when they first begin.
It's essential that your form be correct on this movement, otherwise you will not reap the real benefits and may injure yourself. Be very careful whom you learn this movement from as most who claim to be teaching it are way off the mark. They don't descend low enough. Or they move too fast or too slow, without balance, rhythm and grace. Many people bounce out of the bottom. Or they use improper breathing and hand movements. All of these mistakes lead away from some of the most amazing benefits of this exercise, one of which is increased spiritual awareness and internal power.
Hindu squats can be done everyday, if you so choose. Naturally, you don't attempt to set a world record every time you do them. You may do 100 one day, 500 another day, 300 the next and so on, varying the duration and intensity of the exercise. One Furey student, Lt. Col. Robert Schutz, set a goal to do 100,000 Hindu squats in a year - and he accomplished that feat in 2005.
Many other Furey students got the news on this and set the same goal for themselves. Doing 100,000 Hindu squats in a single year amounts to doing an average of 274 per day.
What about your knees? Do high-repetition squats injure the knees?
There are some people who cannot and should not do squats, regardless of what type they are. These are people whose knees are severely banged up. Yet, the majority of people who are in good health CAN do Hindu squats and benefit immensely. High-repetition squats do not harm the knees, so long as you maintain good form and pay attention to what you're doing. Sloppily going through any exercise can lead to injuries.
Most people, it should be pointed out, don't hurt their knees, even when doing sloppy squats. It is almost always the lower back that gets injured. This truth maintain relevance whether we are talking about Hindu squats or heavy barbell squats. So always concentrate on good form. Make sure you learn proper form and do the exercise the right way all the time.
One of the other differences between Hindu squats and other free-hand bodyweight squats is that most practitioners allow their knees to go ahead of their toes on the descent. This is the way the Hindu squat is performed in India - and contrary to what some will tell you, this is a real solution to knee pain for many. In fact, many students of Combat Conditioning, including people in their 70's and 80's who had weak knees, found that the knees-over-toes position was the key to their greatly improved knee and leg strength.
When some people first begin doing Hindu squats, because of pre-existing weakness and pain in the knee joint itself, they are sometimes advised to experiment with a heels-flat variation of the Hindu squats as compared to the knees-over-toes variation, until the knee gets strong enough to handle the movement. Once the knees are much stronger, the trainee can attempt the knees-over-toes method to see if he can handle it. If not, then it is acceptable to continue doing them with your heels flat.
For those whose knees are "too far gone" for any sort of repetitive squatting motion, you may want to try your hand with the "wall chair" exercise, as shown in Combat Conditioning. The wall chair is a great lower body strengthener that is often used by skiers in need of endurance-strength.
Hindu squats can be done by both young and old. Matt Furey first taught his son, Frank, how to do them when Frank was 18 months old. He also taught him how to bridge and do Hindu pushups at that age, too. Many families do these exercises together and claim that a family that trains together, stays together.
One of the most important elements of the Hindu squat is the breathing. Unlike all other squatting exercises, the breathing is in reverse. Instead of inhaling down and exhaling up - you exhale down and inhale when coming up. Your are to think of your lungs as if they are an accordion. When does the air come out of an accordion? When it is compressed. The same is true of Hindu squats and the breathing technique. As you lower yourself to the ground, your torso, diaphragm and abdominals compress - and so, like the accordion, this is when you let the air out.
Breathing is free and open. You should be able to hear someone doing Hindu squats from across the room. The "letting go" of the breath begins at the navel center and the sound is unobstructed. This is a tough one for many people because they have absorbed negative breathing habit patterns.
Many people hold their breath when they exercise. Instead of breathing with every repetition, they forget until they do three or four reps. This is a mistake. There is a breath with EVERY repetition.
The breath should be the "focal point" during this exercise. The more you focus on the inhale and exhale, the more endurance and strength you will bring into your body. And, because your breath is closely connected with "spirt" - the better your breathing the more connected you will be.
Work into the performing of Hindu squats with caution. You are well-advised to only do a reasonable number the first time you do them. For many seasoned fitness fanatics, this is about 40 repetitions. On occasion, someone with something to prove, will force himself to do several hundred - which will result in being incredibly sore for as long as 5 days - or more. So please, do begin slowly and work up to the higher numbers with care.
When you do this exercise in conjunction with Hindu pushups and bridging, you are doing what Matt Furey calls the Royal Court. It may seem hard to believe that you can get into the best shape of your life with 3 exercises - yet it is absolutely true.
Do Hindu squats the way Matt Furey teaches and you won't go wrong. Furey says that once you've worked up to 500 straight in less than 15 minutes, you're on your way to greatness. This is certainly not the end, as Furey proved on January 1, 2000, when he did 2001 straight Hindu squats to ring in the new millenium.
In Matt Furey's Combat Conditioning program he goes into much more detail on how to do this amazing exercise.