Though there’s a bit of a learning curve associated with this high-skill exercise, it will be well worth the total body muscle-building, fat-burning, and metabolism-boosting benefits it provides when performed with perfect form and technique.
This may very well be the hardest exercise you ever perform. But don’t get mad at me… blame the Turks, ha ha!
Want to learn more? Then keep reading
I. What is a Turkish Get-Up (TGU)?
In essence, a Turkish Get-up (TGU) is the proper series of movements that will have you safely and effectively coming from lying with your backside on the floor to standing fully erect while holding a weight directly overhead… and then of course reversing that movement under control.
II. Benefits of the Turkish Get-Up:
The TGU is the ultimate total body functional exercise and it is a foundational movement that people of all walks of life should seek to master.
In fact, being able to properly get-up off of the floor is one of the first things we lose as we age. In other words, you never want to have fallen and not be able to get-up!
Here are some more specific benefits to this classic strength movement:
– Serves the dual role as an excellent whole body warm-up drill to grease the groove before more intensive exercise using lighter loads and as a whole body workout routine using heavier loads and longer work periods
– Dramatically strengthens wrists and forearms, areas that are particularly weak in the modern era due to the proliferation of sedentary occupations and the demise of manual labor
– Bulletproofs your lower back and shoulder girdle
– Helps develop a strong upper back and V-taper that makes your waist appear smaller
– Develops most-ability, the combination of motion and stability. This term was coined by world-renowned physical therapist Gary Gray as he describes it in his own words as “the ability to functionally take advantage of just the right amount of motion at just the right joint in just the right plane of motion in just the right direction at just the right time”
– Works your core in all 3 planes of motion (sagittal plane- front to back and up and down, frontal plane- side to side, and transverse plane- rotational) where most core exercises only address a single plane of motion, usually in the already overtrained sagittal plane. In doing so, it really strengthens the all-import oblique (love handle or side abdominal) muscles which are critical to optimal health and performance
– A much, much safer and more effective core training alternative to crunches and sit-ups which promote excessive flexion of the lumbar spine and lead to lower back pain/injury
– Great for developing hip and upper back/thoracic spine mobility which is essential for people who sit at their desks all day long at work
– Excellent for building core, knee, hip, and shoulder stability
– Great tool for teaching proper lunging mechanics. Just like with squatting, lunging is best learned from the ground up
III. Learning How to Perform the TGU One Stage at a Time
The best way to teach the full TGU is to first break it down into its 3 basic stages with step-by-step instructions:
– Begin in a fetal position by holding the weight close to your chest with both hands
– Then roll onto your backside and use both hands to press the weight up so that your right arm is fully extended overhead
– Fully extend your left leg straight out in front of you and then fully extend your left arm at a 45-degree angle from your trunk
– Bend your right knee so you right heel is close to your right glute
1st Stage TGU- Bottom Section: Moving from Lying Down with Back on Floor to Hips on Floor
– With your eyes looking up at the weight overhead, drive through your right heel to move in a diagonal pattern onto your left forearm and left hip
– Then move onto your left hand with your shoulders down and back
NOTE- If you struggle with this stage, you lack core strength
2nd Stage TGU- Middle Section: Moving from Hip on Floor to Split Kneeling/Lunge Position
– With 2 active shoulders, raise your hips and sweep your left leg underneath you and perform a windshield wiper motion with your left foot
– Then extend your trunk to square your body off into a split kneeling/lunge position with your front knee and ankle directly aligned
NOTE- If you struggle with this stage, you lack shoulder and core stability and hip mobility
3rd Stage TGU- Top Section: Moving from Split Kneeling/Lunge Position to a Full Stand
– Load the heel of your front leg (right leg in this instance) and stand up until your feet are parallel to each other while focusing on reaching the weight overhead throughout the movement
NOTE- If you struggle with this stage, you lack lower body strength and knee and hip stability
Reversing the Movement:
– Now slowly step your left leg back into a reverse lunge and slowly sink your hips down into the split kneeling position so your knee kisses the floor and then slowly reverse the entire movement moving from 3rd to 2nd to 1st stage to the starting position
Clearly, this is a complex set of steps but when broken down into stages it makes it much easier to learn.
The key coaching cues that apply throughout the entire movement are:
– A famous kettlebell saying is that the shoulders are poison to the ears. So keep both of your shoulders down and back and active throughout the exercise to keep them safe
– Keep your loaded arm straight throughout the entire exercise. If you let the elbow bend, you’ll overly fatigue your arm muscles and lose stability at the shoulder joint and will feel wobbly during the movement
– Perform the exercise in a very slow, controlled, and deliberate manner to get the most out of it. Going too fast results in instability which can put you at the risk of injury. In addition, we want to eliminate any bouncing or momentum to make your muscles work harder
Another great thing about working this exercise in partial stages of movement is that it allows you to strengthen individual weaknesses inherent to each stage as noted above.
Try this exercise out and let me know how it goes.
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