In 2020, I researched Ancient Greek athletics, and from there I started exploring training techniques in other cultures

These are my favorite “ancient” exercises with timeless health and performance benefits

1. Hindu Squats

Hindu squats are known as Baithaks, Pelewan wrestlers routinely do 1000 a day as part of their training (they build up this over time)

I like this movement because it trains FULL knee bend, & strenghens the knee & ankle joint

Notice in these pictures how upright their torso is

Done correct these get your toes & feet, ankles knees & quads, they train proper alignment with the inside ankle bone being elevated and your arches of your foot not collapsing

Also powerful cardio building

Everyone should be able to do these

Start with 10-20 reps in a set

2. The Halma, the Ancient Greek quintuple jump

There is ZERO historical record of the ancient greeks ever doing squats (I wrote an entire book if youre interested)

They did however do a ton of sprinting & jumping

Their version of the long jump was actually FIVE jumps in one

They did this holding halteres, small hand weights that weighed about 2kgs

Whats so great about jumping? Its a full body plyometric movement that develops immense power and elastic, explosive athleticism

You cannot claim to be athletic and be bad at jumping 

The ancient greeks did these in a sand pit, but you dont need to perfectly imitate their version

You can get similar benefits by doing standing broad jumps. If you have enough space, try doing 5 broad jumps in a row. Even 2-3 is challenging

Do not do more 10-15 jumps total 

3. Deltoid Raises and Isoholds

If you look at enough greek statues, and pottery, and mosaics of athletes, you notice quickly

They have very developed deltoids.

Thats not accidental.

Ancient greeks were obsessed with shoulder training, its one of the few Exercises they did

that is specifically mentioned in historical records

They did front raises, lateral raise, overhead raises. They did with halteres, they did them isometrically, they did them partner resisted

Even their lunges they did with arms held straight out to train the shoulders more 

The ancient greeks did not train their shoulders “heavy”. Their developments came from high reps, and time under tension

Add in this simple routine into your next shoulder day

20 front raises, 20 lateral raises, 20 curls to overhead press

Do 3 rounds, no rest between exercises 

4. The Horse Stance

This comes from China, its found in practically all Chinese martial arts, in Tae Kwan Do, and Kung Fu

Its a wide stance squat position, held isometrically

There are a few ways of doing it (theres lots of great video youtube)

Horse stance is not usually done as up-down squat, rather its an Isometric position

Holding this position builds immense muscular length and strength in the adductors, which are essential for kicking

Its also Mental training, horse stance can be held for up to an HOUR or more 

Adding this into your regular leg training would definitely benefit your hip flexibility and overall movement ability.

Try doing 4 sets of 30 seconds to get started, and then go for longer holds from there

5. Indian Clubs (or Persian clubs, depending on who you ask)

In India they are called Gada, In Persia they are called meels

They were believed to be physical preparation for war, training the necessary muscles for carrying a sword, spear, war club, and other weapons

In the 19th and early 20th century, club training became Extremely popular in the British empire. Clubs were formed and gyms were built around “indian club classes”, they were even in the Olympics in 1932

Swing Your Way to Fitness was a real movement

These classes were similar to the classes done in Persia, or modern Iran

The classes and exercises have not changed in thousands of years

-If interested in Indian clubs, I suggest finding an experienced instructor. They’re fantastic for shoulder health

6. The Hindu Pushup

I LOVE this exercise. Done correctly it develops strength, muscle, flexibility all at the same time. It trains all of the upper body muscles, short of lats

Indian wrestlers typically do 500 daily

The common version is called Sadharan Dand. This is the one I recommend

I suggest aiming for 50-100 total reps on your next upper body day.

If you can do 25 in a row, you have exceptional upper body strength compared to most people 

7. Boxing

In ancient greece Boxing was one of the preeminent sports, it has at least a 3000 year history

The equipment of boxing has not changed in millennia

hands wraps, Gloves, and heavy bags were all used

Boxing is a combat sport obviously. Again, hire a qualified coach if you want to learn how to box

Boxing is an art and science. To be in fighting shape is a whole different level of fitness compared to most sports 

8. Power Breathing

The ancient greeks specifically defined this as “Full and Loud breathing”

breathing practices are also found in India, Thailand, China, and practically all Asian martial arts

Power breathing was not meant to be done daily… 

its specifically named as a “violent” exercise, meaning highly exertional

To perform it, the athlete would breathe in as deep as they could, holding as much air as possible, & then exhale as forcefully as possible

this thoroughly trains the respiratory muscles of the lunges 


If you made it to the end of this thread & want to learn more, I wrote an extensive guide on ancient greek athletics and healthcare

This is by far the most interesting subject I ever researched, and compiled all of it together for my newsletter readers
It’s called “Ancient Athletics”. Get it now.

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