The Great Gama

Ghulam Muhammad, better known as The Great Gama was a wrestler and strongman born in 1880 in British India. He was most famous for long and successful wrestling career as he remained undefeated for more than 50 years, but his training methods and feats of strength he used to perform also played a role in his popularity.

The Great Gama

The Great Gama

Ghulam was trained by his father, who was also a successful wrestler, at a very young age. General public noticed Ghulam when he appeared at a strongman competition at the age of 10. With more than 400 wrestlers and participants in this competition (which featured many tough exercises, like Indian squats), Ghulam Muhammad managed to secure his place among the last fifteen wrestlers. Since he showed incredible dedication and endurance for his age, The Great Gama was pronounced a winner of this competition.

Only nine years later, The Great Gama issued a challenge against the Indian wrestling champion Raheem Baksh who was much taller than him. Gama himself stood at 5’7″, while his opponent was 6’9″ tall. Imagine the advantage Raheem had against Ghulam in this match! Long story short, The Great Gama managed to win this fight which marked the turning point in his career. Many other well-known wrestlers like Stanislaus Zbysko, Dr. Benjamir Roller, Maurice Deriaz and John Lemm all suffered the same fate of losing a match against Ghulam.

At the age of 22, The Great Gama traveled to Baroda to compete in wrestling. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find a match and decided to do something else instead. He lifted 1200kg stone (2645 pounds) up to his chest and dropped it down after carrying it for a while. It was 2.5 feet in height and it’s still kept at Baroda Museum for display.

Gama performing hindu pushups as a part his regular training routine

Gama performing hindu pushups as part of his regular training routine

Gama’s diet included 2 gallons of milk per day mixed with 1.5 pound of crushed almond paste and fruit juice. He trained every day, performing 5000 hindu squats and 3000 hindu pushups. He performed squats while wearing 200 pounds apparatus and had someone rub him with dry mustard after every workout session.

Another interesting fact about this great man is that he had a major influence on many, including Bruce Lee himself. After reading about Gama’s amazing strength, Lee decided to incorporate Gama’s training methods in his own routine, which probably helped him to achieve the legendary status he has today.

The Great Gama died in 1960 after a long history of heart-related conditions.

Don’t forget to check out this page forĀ 12 Classics on Strength and Health by old-time strongmen.

The Great Gama was last modified: December 8th, 2013 by Admin

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23 Responses to The Great Gama

  1. Kenneth Russell December 8, 2013 at 8:47 pm #

    I dont understand the purpose of the dry mustard?

    • admin December 8, 2013 at 9:17 pm #

      It is believed to help relax muscle after a workout.

      • santosh October 7, 2014 at 12:02 pm #

        The actual idea is not to let the body cool down quickly. In fact they apply Mustard oil before exercising and after the workout they rub it off with mud.

      • elvis February 7, 2017 at 4:12 am #

        Man wrestler gama gives 48 hours of rest for his muscle this article is wrong.

  2. shivdatta January 12, 2015 at 5:16 am #

    i just want to know that if i do 1000 hindu pushups and 500 hindu squats will it be enough workout or i should reduce these rep and do something else too?

    • admin January 12, 2015 at 5:54 pm #

      It depends on your goals. They’re great for endurance, but if you want to increase your strength on top of that I’d work with harder exercises.

    • Sandeep Tanwar October 31, 2015 at 10:32 am #

      Genral rule is you do twice squats as of push ups. So if you are going to do 1000 push ups then you should do 2000 squats

    • shekhar January 3, 2018 at 5:08 am #

      The point is if you are doing it right or wrong.

  3. Jeff January 21, 2015 at 2:55 pm #

    Just a thought here and maybe you can share your input but it seems that many of the great old time strongmen and wrestlers used regimens of high rep work. John Grimmick and even Bruce Lee come to mind. Even though many believe it only builds endurance, lifting that stone is a huge feat of strength.
    My thought then is this: time under tension is supposed to build tendon strength and is what the great Alexander Zass believed gave him his awesome strength, even though he used isometrics. If muscular strength is inhibited by the Golgi tendon similar to the chip in a car that prevents it from going too fast, wouldn’t it seem plausible that it was in fact the high reps that built strong tendons that build great strength? I’m assuming the answer lyes in do both but I just wanted to throw it out there. It’s something I’ve been wondering about even though high rep work bore me to tears. Great post!

    • admin January 21, 2015 at 3:45 pm #

      Yes high reps is one of the keys to strength, including the tendons. Anyone that only limits themselves to one method misses the benefits of other methods.

    • Anthony January 21, 2015 at 11:01 pm #

      Very interesting Jeff.

    • Paras May 22, 2017 at 12:30 am #

      Jeff Exactly, Finally someone noticed the connection between high reps and unusual strength. People keep making bullshit excuses like Charles below, truth is, Gym exercises are stupid and easy and less painful while high rep bodyweight workout is more difficult. Look up angamardana taught by Jaggi vaudeville, this works directly on joints, tendons and ligaments but needs preparation before attempting.

  4. peterosu January 21, 2015 at 4:40 pm #

    I Had heard of the gama back in the day via matt furey, but awesome youve expanded on it a whole heap. Great article logan

  5. Charles January 22, 2015 at 8:30 am #

    There’s something to be said for high reps, but I’m not sure if that many reps on each exercise is really necessary. Some people might develop joint issues with overuse injuries. I guess it depends on how you are built if you can take it. I think that about half that many reps would yield the same results. He should have also cut down on the milk and perhaps he would not have had so many heart problems. What do you think?

  6. siddhant pardeshi July 12, 2016 at 3:00 pm #

    Dear all my friend specially i want to tell one about incident of Gama ,
    once upon time the one person asked to Gama how you achieve your all goals and you have not been defeated by anyone in your life …….
    so he told that person, ” in my whole life I always look at any every women is my mother and i always follow the brahmacharya i always read shreemad bhagvat gita
    and taken the meaning of gita i always have the meditation with that

  7. mohammed Ali October 15, 2016 at 1:05 pm #

    Was he actually able to really lift that?, no doubt he was incredibly strong but still, just wondering is all.

  8. Imran Sheikh March 6, 2017 at 7:37 am #

    Gama was a great athlete much loved and admired……. I’m not a big movie fan but come on Bollywood lets have a movie based on Gama. I’m sure the fans on this website would agree. Our generation needs to know about Gama…. a great inspiration.

  9. Jamal Joudeh April 17, 2017 at 9:55 am #

    Thanks for the article,
    I have heard many outlandish claims about people being able to perform thousands of hindu squats and hindu pushups on daily basis!
    But I cannot help feeling sceptical: I have still to see someone actually performing these feats! The only video I have come across was of Indian man, Aswin Pathrudu, on youtube of him performing 1001 hindu psuhups. he was cooked, and he didn’t even resemble a man of “strength”, no matter how you understand the word.

    • admin April 17, 2017 at 6:39 pm #

      Personally I have done 250 Hindu Pushups in a single set, up to 500 per days several different times. I’ve also done 1000 Hindu squats once in a single set, and 500 per day for a week straight.

      Sure I would say its doable, but like a marathon to me it’s not worth the time it takes to do.

      • John September 28, 2017 at 2:11 pm #

        I have to respectfully disagree, I use Hindu Squats and regular pushups to supplement my endurance running. Which I have found to be extremely beneficial, my speed and ability to power up hills has increased dramatically. Dropped my time and increased my pace during a half marathon by several minutes. Not by adding mileage, by adding Hindu squats. Usually 500-700 per day. Takes me about 20 minutes. Not a bad investment.

        • admin September 28, 2017 at 5:06 pm #

          Actually John, that is exactly too my point. You’re focusing on endurance and running marathons. I am not.

          Also 500-700 hindu squats is quite a bit different from doing 5000 a day, as the claims go. Let me ask you, do you think it would help your half marathons any more to do that much?

          • John September 28, 2017 at 5:20 pm #

            No, I would rather put in more running rather than Hindu squats, however, if I was unable to get out on the road for whatever reason, I may try one of those 1000 rep workouts. Only on an occasion like a snowstorm or what have you. I guess I read that wrong. Not trying to start any friction.

  10. Kartikeya November 3, 2017 at 8:45 am #

    I just want to clear some doubts some people are having. These are just my views, based on whatever I have come to learn over the years. So, the high rep training was at a pretty fast pace. And with each squat, Gama would jump to about 1-2 feet ahead of him, before coming back to the original spot. For the wrestlers, high rep training was not just for endurance, but also speed and agility. So, as can be imagined, initially, almost every day was a day with muscles close to failure. This was when Gama was a child, and his body would recover quickly. As he aged, the workload did increase, overall, but the high rep training remained about the same (once he reached adulthood), allowing him to focus less on hypertrophy and more on speed and stamina. He himself said that strength was an internal thing, something akin to prana, and he didn’t understand why the westerners were mad about having muscles and cuts all over their body.

    Also, it was the digestive enzymes in the fruits he had, like papain, bromelain, etc. plus the roughage, that ensured he could eat huge amounts of food and have a healthy gut still. Must have shat like an elephant though.

    Huge respect to him. 1200 kg stone lift is unearthly, and I would say that his strength was as much a result of his attitude and thoughts as his regimen. He used to utter God’s name with each reptition of the squat and would constantly think about what his late father had in mind for him: To be the greatest wrestler on the planet.

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