The Hindu squat and kettlebell swings are both effective, predominantly lower-body exercises, but they are generally used for different purposes and by different people. If you’re considering using either of these exercises in your fitness routine, here are some key details about each movement to help you make your decision.
Technique – Kettlebell Swing
Stand upright with a kettlebell between your heels and your feet wider than shoulder-width. Keeping your back straight and your head in a neutral position, hinge at the hip as you reach down for the kettlebell. Bend your knees a little as you do. Swing the weight forward explosively, until your arms are parallel with the ground. Swing the kettlebell back down between your legs, primarily bending at the hip to facilitate the movement. Keep your back straight at all times.
Technique – Hindu Squat
This is a bodyweight exercise so you don’t have any resistance. The way you do the Hindu Squat is to stand with your feet around shoulder-width apart and your arms straight out in front of you. Bend your elbows and pull the arms back, as if you were pulling a rowing machine. When the arms are fully bent, swing them down and back, as if you were preparing to jump into the air. At the same time as you do this arm movement, squat down with your heels off the ground. Then stand back up, swinging your arms forward so that you’re back in the starting position.
Muscle Groups Worked
Both of these exercises work the lower body fairly well, although in the kettlebell swing the hip provides the driving force, while the Hindu squat is knee-dominant. Personally, this is a big factor for me as I’m not a huge fan of putting much more stress on my knees than I have to. But this means that while both exercises hit the hamstrings and glutes, the kettlebell swing works the lower back more, and the Hindu squat hits the quads more. The kettlebell swing also works the core and the upper body to a much greater extent, including the abdominals, shoulders and upper back.
As a bodyweight exercise, the Hindu squat can be done anywhere, anytime. It can be used as part of a warmup, or as an excellent endurance exercise for the lower body — if you enjoy a challenge, 500 reps within 16-minutes is considered world-class. However, the resistance is too low for Hindu squats to be effective at building muscle or increasing strength.
The kettlebell swing, on the other hand, can be used to build muscle and strength, simply by adjusting the resistance. By using lower weights, it can also be used as an endurance exercise. It’s also widely used by athletes, since explosive power in the hips is essential to many sports.
The resistance of the kettlebell makes kettlebell swings more versatile — but Hindu squats are more accessible, great for endurance training, and useful as part of a warmup. Both exercises have their place — the one you choose will depend on your training goals and experience level.