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  • Writer's pictureJack Lian

The Ultimate Strength and Movement Builder: The Turkish Get Up

Regardless of your sport, one exercise will DEFINITELY be of benefit to you.

That's right, the Turkish Get Up (TGU).

The turkish get up has wide ranging benefits - from being a teacher in movement, to becoming an incredible strength builder. Think of it as yoga and lifting heavy weights ALL combined into one. Some even referred to the TGU as "weighted yoga".


The get up works on 4 fundamental movements: rolling, reaching, hinging and lunging. They are core movements which we do in everyday life and are involved in multiple sports. The get up also puts the hips and shoulders through a large range of motion. This works on improving mobility of these two joints, which are usually lacking among both athletes and the masses alike.


Getting a weight from a supine position to a standing overhead position requires tremendous core strength and stability. The unilateral overhead loading requirement only adds to the challenge. This aspect of the TGU is why EVERYONE can benefit from the exercise. Afterall, you will need a strong and stable midsection in order to effectively generate or establish an efficient transfer of force.


By putting the shoulder through a wide range of motion across various planes, the rotator cuff will be strengthened, and these can be crucial for sports which are upper limb dominant - such as calisthenics, rock climbing, aerial, gymnastics, OCR, etc.


Hinging on one leg, lunges with a weight overhead builds single leg strength and balance, definitely great for runners, cyclists which requires force generation on one leg at a time.


If you are eager to add the TGU into your training, you will need patience or risk getting injured. Below are some progressions that will build you up to your first weighted TGU.


Yes we have seen people TGU-ing people, barbells, kettlebells off the ground, BUT if you are new to TGU, the first thing which you will need to master is...the MOVEMENT itself.

This means performing the TGU with JUST a clenched fist.

Yes, the thought of it is boring, unexciting and you will rather throw heavy weights around.

The key here is to ensure that you DRILL in the right technique and movement; you want to be in control going through each phases of the movement, and be smooth in the transition between phases.

Some key points of performance for the TGU:

1) Roll onto your elbows.

As you can see, the roll is initiated by my RIGHT foot, rolling myself to the left elbow. Technique here is not the best; the left foot ideally should be kept on the ground.

2) Keep your shoulders packed.

3) Keep the elbows of the working arm locked.

4) Keep the wrist straight.

5) Bracing of the core.

"You want to be in control going through each phases of the movement, and be smooth in the transition between phases."


Now that you can crawl, it is time to learn how to walk. In this case, we are going to stack on shoe on top of the fist of your working arm (NOT HOLDING ON WITH YOUR HANDS).

The reason is simple.

If you cannot maintain the balance of something as light as a shoe when performing the TGU, how can you expect to maintain the balance of say a 48kg kettlebell?

Work on nailing your shoe get up with good technique. Once you can perform 6-8 sets of singles on each side with good technique, you can try to add load to it.

DO NOT underestimate the shoe get up. Aside from it being a progression towards weighted get ups, it is also a VERY good way to groove good movement pattern, and can be used as great warm up tool to open up the hip and shoulder joints.


Now that you are comfortable with the shoe get up, being able to keep tension and ingrained the movement into muscle memory, you are able to start your first get up with weight.

A good starting point will be with an 8kg bell for women, 12-16kg for men.

Don't pick a challenging weight. YET.

This is your first time with the bell, and it will teach you the importance of "stacking" much more than the shoe get up.

Yes, if you haven't been treating the shoe get up seriously, you will "grind" through the TGU, which will make it look rather unpleasant.

Remember, you want to be in control in each phase of the movement, and make smooth transition between phases.


Now comes the question.

How much should I do?

For a start, you can work up to doing 5 sets of singles, 5 times a week. Start with the shoes, then moving on to the recommended weight WITHOUT compromising on form.

Only increase weight when you are VERY comfortable with the current weight for all 5 sets. I use Pavel's Simple and Sinister program as a rule of thumb; shoot for 1 TGU (either side), on the minute for 10 minutes (5 left, 5 right), before bumping up one bell size of either 4kg or 8kg.

A good weight to shoot for will be 16kg for females, 24kg for men.

If you are interested to learn more about the Turkish Get Up, come on down and join our class on Tuesdays!

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