Nail the Pahalwan routine with these traditional akhada equipment


Looking for newer tools to get you started on your fitness journey? How about breaking sweat, like our home-grown pahalwans using traditional tools like gada and mugdar? They not only make you fitter, but better your balance and help make your joints stronger. Intrigued? Read on to find out why you should incorporate these time-tested equipment into your fitness routine…

Going to the gym Vs using traditional tools

Going to a gym is the preferred way of staying fit for most people, but fitness trainer Nithin Jayaraj, who specialises in gada, mugdar and sumtola, tells us that gym equipment is quite limited. “The focus of lifting weights at the gym is only on muscles. The movement is two dimensional, i.e. up to down or left to right. This kind of movement makes your body stiff and only focuses on muscle gain or growth. However, traditional tools are designed to be used in a rotational movement, or three-dimensional movement, which focuses on joint strength and mobility. Such movements make your grip stronger, joints stretched out and flexible, and the muscles grow in proportion to the height. Not just this, such movements also help with joint injuries, making them stronger. It’s pure core engagement and helps improve one’s body balance,” says Nithin.

Fitness enthusiast and trainer Pranatic Sen, who uses club bells or mugdar for strength and conditioning, adds, “Depending on the weight, traditional tools can be used for rehabilitation and prehabilitation (lighter steel clubs), or rotational and shoulder power (heavier steel clubs). It is great for MMA fighters, wrestlers and grapplers, as it develops powerful grip and forearm strength, and is great for the health of connective tissue and joints.”

Space constraints is not an issue

Traditional tools are unlike gym equipment in the sense that they are not space intensive. They are compact enough to store in the corner of a room, and you also don’t need too much room to use them. “The mugdar, for instance, doesn’t need much space, so it’s best to start with it and then move on to the gada. The mugdar needs only a 4-5 feet radius of empty space around you to swing it freely,” says Nithin.

How many reps does one need to do?

Depending on the technique, 100 repetitions can easily be done in under 10 minutes. Since the movement of the traditional tools is rotational, high repetitions is possible. Once you learn the technique, you should be able to do around 500 repetitions daily.

Choosing the weight of the mugdar

To calculate the right weight of the mugdar for a practitioner to start is a basic equation — your weight divided by 8, and then divided further by 2.

If you weigh 65 kg, then the equation is — 65/8 = 8.125/2 = 4.06 kg. So, a person weighing 65 kgs should first opt for a mugdar weighing 4 kgs.

Gets you into an akhada athlete mode

Apart from improving your joints mobility, pahalwan Gyanshankul Singh who also is an traditional sports trainer adds, “The movement not only improves your upper body and joints’ strength but also helps to improve your lower body strength as well. Most importantly, one gets into the akhada athletes life because it is not just about hitting the gym and picking up weights but a proper process that is followed including relooking at one’s diet. And, the overall shift in your fitness regime which includes walking and running in the morning and then stretching (both upper and lower body) before picking up the traditional tools, is what moves you into the akhada athletes lifestyle.”

Can be customised to fit your pocket as well!

For those thinking that price might be a key concern, Gyanshankul says, “The price range varies depending on the wood that is used. Tools made from Sheesham wood are costly, but it does not lose its weight over the years, hence it is again pocket-friendly in the long run. Also, people can go for equipment made from Babool, Mango, Neem wood as well, but the durability might not be life long. One can also go for stone gadas which is the material used for original akhada equipments. To increase the weight one can also add iron rings to their equipment. Also, you can always customise is according to your weight and pocket goals as well.”

For daily fitness goals, one does not need to go beyond 20 kgs and it is advisable to progress slowly from 5 kg to 10,15,18 kg and then finally to 20 kg of weight.


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