the turkish get-up: a beginner's guide
What if I told you that you could work on strength, stability, mobility and flexibility all in one movement. That you could make your body more resilient and injury proof. You could get your hips and shoulders stronger and more stable.
I’m talking about the Turkish Get-Up, a total body exercise that will target every inch of your body. It's a graceful movement that isn't done enough. Part of the reason is because it's difficult to do. It requires patience, skill, control, and fluidity.
The get-up, as is often referred to, is not a movement that is done with quickness. It requires focus and concentration to perform each segment with quality.
That’s right, I said segments. Segments that require you to move in all planes of motion.
If you want to
Improve hip mobility
Improve thoracic spine mobility
Get stronger shoulders
Get stronger hips
Have a stronger midsection
Burn tons of calories
Then, learning how to do the Get-Up could come in handy for you.
I’m sure you’re curious by now so let’s dive right in.
Step 1: Grabbing the kettlebell
Before you begin your exercise, always keep your eyes on the kettlebell on top of you.
Let’s assume you’re going to carry the kettlebell with your right arm.
Place the kettlebell on the floor next to you. Once you are laying down, roll towards the kettlebell and bring it towards your chest with both hands.
Press the kettlebell on top of you where you are punching through the kettlebell. Your arm should be locked out.
You want to make sure you're not overextending your arm.
Think of sucking your shoulder into the body. This will put your arm in a more stable position. Make sure to remember and apply this throughout the entire exercise.
Step 2: Roll to elbow
Now it’s time to get up.
Pull your right foot towards your body. This foot should be in contact with the ground at all times.
Place your left arm at a 45 degree angle. Begin to get up by pushing your right foot and left elbow through the ground to roll up on top of your elbow.
Make sure your shoulders are pulled back and down at this position and throughout the movement.
Step 3: Getting up on your hand
Sit up on your hand and rotate your fingers so that they are pointing behind you. It is totally fine if you have to adjust your hand to a comfortable position.
Your arm should be locked out, actively pushing through the ground.
You don’t want your shoulder rolling forward.
Step 4: High bridge
This is my favorite part of the exercise. In a society where we spend so much time sitting, this segment allows us to open up the hips and contract the glutes.
Sometimes the heel will come up when performing the bridge and this may be due to lack of ankle flexibility but it also happens because the foot has been pulled in too close towards the butt.
The bridge is the halfway point. While having your eyes on the kettlebell, raise your hips by pushing your right heel and left hand into the ground. Squeeze your butt at the top of the bridge.
Your body should perform a nice straight line from the top of the right knee to the right shoulder. Your hips should be fully extended, there shouldn’t be a crease at the hips.
Step 5: Knee to hand
This is the most difficult part of the exercise.
Without dragging your foot, bring your extended (left) leg towards your left hand and place your knee on the floor. Make sure not to place the knee too far back.
Your hips are slightly hinged and your torso should form a “T” position where both arms are straight to your sides. Your obliques will work especially hard in this transition.
Then unlock the back leg by turning the knee forward. Now both knees are facing the same direction.
This will put you into a kneeling lunge position.
Step 6: Kneeling lunge to stand
Stand up by pushing through your back toes and driving through your front heel.
Your feet should be about shoulder-width apart where you reach the top. The arm that is carrying the kettlebell should be locked out with the bicep in line with your ear.
Going back down
Reversing the movement back to the ground should look very similar to the way you got to the top of the exercise.
While looking up at the kettlebell, perform a reverse lunge. Place your knee on the ground, slightly push your hips to the side and find the ground with your hand.
Push your leg through to then extend your hips at the bridge position. Then under control, lower your hips to the ground.
Then place your elbow and then forearm on the ground to roll back down to your lying position.
See the video below for a full demonstration of a properly executed Turkish get-up.
How to Apply the Turkish Get-Up to Your Strength Training Routine
The Get-Up can definitely be done with a heavy load but it’s not necessary. Performing the movements with great quality is more important than the weight of the kettlebell. Going heavy is definitely a feat of strength but this approach should be reserved for an advanced person.
For a novice or an unconditioned person, doing the Get-Up without any external load can be very demanding. For some, this would be enough. In fact, don't pick up a kettlebell before you are comfortable with just the movement.
Practicing a weight-less Get-Up can also be very useful as a warm-up prior to any physical activity.
Some people will find themselves breathing really hard while doing this exercise. They will notice their heart rate increasing. This is because you are moving from the floor to a standing position while carrying a kettlebell on top of you.
You don’t usually go for a lot of repetitions with this exercise. A normal rep range is anywhere between 3-10 reps per side. You can complete all the reps in one side before you go to the opposite side or you can simply alternate between both sides.
This movement will humble anyone. Strive to do it with great form, take your time learning it and the benefits will pay off in other activities and sports and in real life as well.