Transform Your Physique With Turkish Get-ups

If you workout or follow anything in the fitness industry, you may have heard of the Turkish Get-up (TGU). From rehab specialists to NFL strength coaches, the TGU has been an exercise that holds a lot of value. The TGU has phenomenal benefits for just about any person looking to improve overall movement and proprioception. Not to mention the great strength and muscle gains that can come with mastering the TGU.

The TGU may not be a true strength and muscle builder, but there is more to an exercise than just building muscle and strength, that is if you want to keep moving well enough to even throw heavy weight around in the gym.  An exercise like the TGU can be the perfect addition to your program to keep your core strong, shoulders safe and increase your proprioception.

This highly dynamic movement has a huge carryover to lifting heavy things. It does this with its series of movements where you go from lying down to standing up with a kettlebell or dumbbell without breaking form and keeping the bell from falling.

Here’s a short list of everything that you can get from within a single get up:

  • Single leg hip stability during the initial roll to press and during the bridge
  • Both closed and open chain shoulder stability
  • Shoulder mobility
  • Thoracic extension and rotation
  • Hip and leg mobility and active flexibility
  • Stability in two different leg patterns – lunge stance as well as squat stance
  • Both rotary and linear stability
  • The ability to link movement created in our extremities to the rest of our body
  • They Are Self-Limiting

Let’s elaborate a little more on a few of these benefits.

The TGU is a Self-Limiting Exercise

Self-limiting exercises make us think about how you need to move. They force you to make a better connection with the brain and the movement. This will help you gain better physical awareness.

At first, self-limiting exercises such as the Turkish Get-up can be a bit frustrating. It is not as simple as the shiny weight machines at the gym. You can’t simply jump on the machine, pull the pin and go. You will have to be patient to achieve mastery. Just by going through this process of mastering balance, control, movement, and alignment, you will watch your physique change for the better. Just be patient.

Self-limiting exercises are also our history. The Turkish Get-up is said to be one of the oldest fitness exercises. Other self-limiting exercises such as crawling, climbing, barefoot running and carrying heavy objects are other examples of ancient exercises. Our bodies were made to perform self-limiting exercises such as the Turkish Get-up. Weight machines and treadmills do have their place but mastery of the basics should be done first.

Improve Shoulder Health

By stabilizing a bell through multiple planes of motion, it requires stability in the anterior, lateral and overhead positions. Not to mention the other shoulder which is propping you up.

The rotator cuff muscles are also called upon as you control the bell, making it an excellent rotator cuff strengthener. If you want to press heavy forever, you have to take care of your shoulder health.

Increase Hip Mobility

Squats, deadlifts, running, and most other lower-body movements require a good amount of hip mobility if you want to achieve full range of motion. The TGU requires you to move through large ranges of motion without compromising your structural integrity. When you bridge the hips up high and sweep the leg through, you have no choice but to open up the hips.

Strengthen Your Core

You would be surprised how many core muscles it requires to roll and get up off the ground. Mobility is one thing, but the amount of core strength it takes seems to be the limiting factor in the first part of the TGU. Think of these exercises as the “super sit-up” with function. Keep in mind the core also involves the muscles around the thoracic spine, not just the abs. The whole entire torso, i.e. the core is called upon during the TGU. When you start to do the TGU with a heavy bell in your hand, you will feel your abs working, trust me.

Quick How To Guide

Keep in mind that there are books that describe how to do a proper Turkish Get-up. Below is simply a quick guide to get you started.

Use both hands to lift the kettlebell off the ground to the starting position of the floor press and to return it to the ground.

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The wrist on the kettlebell side is neutral.

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The elbow on the kettlebell side is locked and the shoulder is packed.

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The shoulder of the free arm does not shrug up.

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The heel of the foot on the kettlebell side stays planted during the low sweep, the lunge up to standing, and the reverse of these actions.

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The knee touches the deck slightly on the descent into the half-kneeling position.

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The arm holding the kettlebell is vertical or almost vertical. The neck is neutral for the top half of the movement, from the lunge up. In the top position, the knees are locked and the lower back does not hyperextend.

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It is recommended that the movement is smooth, without jerky transitions.

This exercise may seem boring, confusing and frustrating. You may look at it as some circus act with a kettlebell. I assure it is far from that. The array of benefits it provides far outweighs its self-limiting feature. Take the time, and the patience to master this movement and watch your body transform before your eyes. You won’t be disappointed.


Do you want to learn how to do the TGU and other cool exercises? Come try us out!  

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