The Turkish Get Up!

The Turkish Get Up (TGU) is a very popular full body exercise and with good reason. TGU is a complex and multifaceted movement that requires all the different body segments to work or chain together to make shit happen, in a good way.

Your mobility, stability, flexibility and, ultimately, strength are all tested. It’s great when used as a warm up and movement screen tool, as a stand-alone exercise or as part of a circuit. Although kettlebells are often used as the go-to tool for the TGU, it is not a kettlebell specific exercise. However, you can pretty much use anything that you can hold in your hand. Things like your shoe, a water bottle, a dumbbell, a barbell, a brick, your cat or dog and even your children.

Here are 6 things that will help you on your quest for TGU awesomeness:

1. Make sure you actively “GET UP”. This means creating tension in your body so that you don’t just roll into positions. So when you GET UP drive your hip and punch your hand at the start so that you can get up onto your forearm (Figure 2.) and then hand. This first movement is the key to the TGU if you can’t actively achieve it then most likely the load you have is too heavy or your set up is crap.

2. In order to achieve point one you need to set up and get your body into a good position. (Figure 1). You need to make sure that you position your body and hand correctly as you drive up. If you don’t set up well then everything else will suck. 3. Make sure you have good body alignment; if you keep good body alignment it means that you are creating tension and actively using your body rather than relying on passive stability.

4. When you transition from 3 points of contact (hand, foot, knee) to 2 points of contact (foot, knee) a lot of stuff can go wrong. If you’re using no load or a light load then it is easy to just rock onto the hand but if the load is heavy then you’ll need to hinge at the hips and push the weight onto the back knee…which is fine… so long as you return to a balance position. If you keep the weight on the back knee on returning to 3 points of contact it then makes it difficult to clear the hip when you go back to 2 points of contact. (Figure 3 & 4).

5. Another thing, which pretty much goes with all the previous points, is that we need to keep our joints locked out. To be more specific:

  • The arm on the ground should be locked not flexed = driving force into the ground
  • The overhead arm should be locked = body takes the load not the arm.
  • The straight leg should be locked = a strong bridge before you swing your leg under.

6. Engage your anterior core! The TGU is a great exercise to use all those bits that you can see in the mirror. When you get up you’ve got to keep the ribs down and stay strong through the anterior core. It’s best to be balanced and neutral rather than having the ribs flared and the back hyper-extended.

Thanks for reading!