How to Do the Turkish Get Up Correctly to Get Maximum Benefit

Turkish Get Up

To start a debate in fitness circles, mention the Turkish Get Up. The arguments will begin automatically, and people will spend more time—and calories—arguing about this exercise than they usually spend on their daily workouts.

The thing about these debates is that they'll tell you more about the people doing the discussion than they'll let you know about the exercise. Bodybuilders and those seeking maximum gains in hypertrophy will say it's not worth your time.

On the other hand, those seeking functional strength will tell you it's a fantastic exercise for developing the kind of strength that will be helpful outside of the gym.

I'm one of those people who wants functional strength. As a practitioner of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a pumped-up bodybuilder's physique would be a disadvantage. The ability to cultivate strength and power in multiple directions—that's a huge advantage! And training those smaller stabilizing muscles as well as my major muscle groups? That's icing on the cake!

Benefits of the Turkish Get Up

Go well beyond the worlds of sports and martial arts. As we get older, one of the most significant risks we face is falling. In our aging population, these falls often lead to broken bones, and the statistics linking broken bones—especially broken hips—and mortality are frightening.

That's another reason to practice Turkish Get Up. I'm no longer a spring chicken, so I'm a lot more concerned about having the full-body muscular development that will keep me from falling flat on my face. Huge biceps and a broken hip won't get me anywhere

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So, Let's Talk About the Turkish Get Up

The Turkish Get Up can be thought of as several exercises rolled into one. For some, that feels over complicated but it does have significant benefits. First off, it's not dull! There's much more going on here than a bicep curl's repeated flexion and extension. Plus, you'll realize that you can break it up into different units or sections if you wish. If you're a beginner, you can master the Get Up piece by piece, giving you a long-term goal in your training program.

The Turkish Get Up also rewards you while you are learning it. As you start learning the components of the Get Up, you'll likely perform movements slowly. What does that mean? Time under Tension!—a strength trainer's best friend! Even after you master the Get Up, you'll probably still find yourself moving carefully instead of cramming out reps at a dizzying pace.

So, Let's Go Through the Turkish Get Up, Step by Step. 

First off, is the Roll and Press. 

You'll see variations of the Get Up, but this is a largely traditional version that prioritizes safety:

Begin with the kettlebell to your side:

Even with your shoulder. We'll begin in a fetal position facing the bell to ensure control of the bell. Since the bell is on my right side, I'll slide my right (pressing) hand under the handle and place my left hand over the handle for support.

Begin with the kettlebell to your side

Once you have a secure hold of the bell, roll it onto your back

So that the bell is over your sternum. You'll find that your hands are in a pistol grip around the kettlebell's handle. 

roll onto your back

From here, press the bell straight up,

Use your right arm for power and your left to help stabilize the bell. The bell should remain above your chest, and your palm should parallel your torso. Do NOT allow the bell to drift over your face, and do NOT allow the bell's weight to rotate your arm or wrist.

press the bell straight up

Next, we move to the Fall Off and Roll-Up:

At this point, you want to be sure of your control of the bell. If you are uncertain of your ability to keep the kettlebell steady, you should reverse these steps, return the bell safely to the ground, and select a lighter bell. You can even perform the Get-Up without any weight if you feel safer perfecting the movements before adding resistance.

Once you can control the bell with your right hand, it's time to allow your left arm and left leg to fall off to your left side. Some people suggest that both your left arm and left leg lie at a 45-degree angle from your body; however, I find a 60-degree arm angle a bit better as we move forward. From this point, you want to keep your eyes on the kettlebell to ensure that you have complete control over it. 

move to the Fall Off and Roll-Up
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From here, we begin to rise off the floor by rolling onto our left elbow.

Notice that my right leg has remained bent this entire time. Now, we'll use that right foot as a brace as we roll onto our left elbow and raise our back off the floor. My eyes are still firmly on that bell.

rise off the floor by rolling onto our left elbow

As you roll up onto your left elbow,

You want to maintain a vertical alignment with both arms. Also, keep your shoulders activated, with the arm "packed" into the shoulder socket. Notice below how both shoulders are activated, and I'm not allowing the weight of the kettlebell to collapse my right shoulder or my body's weight to collapse my left shoulder. 

roll up onto your left elbow

Once on your elbow, it helps to swing the left forearm back so that you can raise yourself on that hand:

swing the left forearm back to raise yourself on other hand

The next step in the Get-Up is the Leg Swing and Kneel-in-Base:

Now that we have the bell and our back in the air, it's time to raise our trunk entirely off the ground. To get ourselves up, we need to bring our left leg to a position underneath our center of gravity, which will be in our upper torso, approximately below the kettlebell.

Fortunately, this is easier than it sounds.

The first step is to raise our trunk off the ground by pushing up on our left hand and right foot. (Meanwhile, our eyes are still firmly on that kettlebell.) Essentially, we are doing a plank on two limbs.) 

Swing the Leg and Kneel-in-Base

Once we've elevated our trunk, we have the room to slightly lift our leg, bend our left knee, and swing our left leg underneath our trunk so that we can begin to rest our weight—and the kettlebells!—on our left hand, our left knee, and our right foot.

Finally, we complete our ascent with a Hip Dip, Pop-Up, and Gate Swing:

We're now ready to lift our hands from the ground and place all our weight on our legs. For many people, this is easier to accomplish if we dip our hips as we lift our hands. This helps to square the center of our weight above our legs and prevents us from toppling over.

complete your ascent with a Hip Dip, Pop-Up, and Gate Swing
Once we have our center of gravity above our legs, we can pop back up to a higher kneeling position with our hands off the floor.
pop back up to a higher kneeling position
Finally, we can prepare to stand by "opening the gate." As we continue staring up at the kettlebell, we swing our kneeling leg so that it aligns with our other leg and torso. Once we are in line, we can stand up to complete the ascending portion of the Get-Up.
swing your kneeling leg
Once you have stood up, you can take a deep breath, relish in your feeling of accomplishment, and then reverse all of the previous steps until you are back on the ground in a fetal position next to the bell.
When beginning to work the Get-Up into your exercise program, a good goal is to perform three sets, each composed of one ascent and descent per side. If performing the Get-Up with a kettlebell is too challenging at first, you will still get benefits from performing the Get-Up with a very light or even as a .  

Remember, this exercise rewards slow, deliberate movement, so take your time, practice good form, and have fun with it!  

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