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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

How To: The Turkish Get-Up

It never fails, every time I practice Turkish get-ups in the gym, someone always gives me a, "what in the hell are you doing?" look.

To the unfamiliar eye, a Turkish get-up or TGU can look a little awkward, but when done correctly, this functional, full body movement has many benefits.  As Brandon Hetzler from Strong First points out, the long list of perks include:
  • Promotes cross lateralization (getting right brain to work with left side)
  • Promotes upper body stability
  • Promotes lower body stability
  • Promotes reflexive stability of the trunk and extremities
  • Ties the right arm to the left leg, and left arm to the right leg
  • Gets the upper extremities working reciprocally (legs too)
  • Stimulates the vestibular system (1 of the 3 senses that contribute to balance)
  • Stimulates the visual system (the second of 3 senses that contribute to balance)
  • Stimulates the proprioception system (3rd oft he 3 systems that contribute to balance)
  • Promotes spatial awareness
  • Develops a front/back weight shift
  • Develops upper body strength, trunks strength, and hip strength
That's a pretty impressive list of benefits for just one movement but it's not easily executed.  

While there are a few different styles of TGUs and a spectrum of ways as how how to include them into your routine (including but not limited to: assessment, warm-up, corrective work, strength gains focused,  finishers, etc) I'd encourage you to master a body weight or light weight dumbbell/kettlebell before progression to more advanced versions like heavier kettelebells or barbells.  

I've broken the Turkish Get-up into 7 segments as follows: 

  1. Lay face up, on the ground.  Rolling over to grab the kettlebell, push it up so it's directly above your right shoulder.  Bring your right knee up so your foot is flat on the ground.  Place your left arm and leg at about 45 degrees out away from your body.  
  2. Pushing through the heel of your right leg and left arm raise up to your elbow.  Be sure to keep the kettlebell (or fist if your practicing with body weight only) directly above your shoulder with your eyes on it the entire movement.  
  3. From the elbow, press up onto your palm
  4. Press your hips to the ceiling in to a three point bridge. Keep the kettlebell in line with your shoulder and wrist.  
  5. Swing your left leg back though behind you, and place your knee on the floor
  6. Press up off your left hand into a half kneeling position
  7. Again, keeping the KB directly above your wrist and shoulder, come to standing.  
  8. To finish the movement, follow the steps back through in reverse order.
Important tips to remember: 
  • Begin with a body weight get-up first.  If it help to replicate the proper positioning of a weight, place a shoe on top of your knuckles and try to keep it in place the entire movement.  
  • Keep your shudders packed (shoulders down, away from your ears, and shoulder blade flat)
  • Keep your wrist in a nice straight line with your knuckles.  (see photo below)
  • If your struggling, don't get frustrated.  This is a complex, difficult move to perform correctly.  Spend a 5-10 minutes practicing 3-4 times a week and you'll see improvement.  

Proper wrist position for a Turkish get-up
Your turn:  Have you tried a Turkish get-up?  


  1. Thank you for breaking this down! It is so hard to see how to do this correctly in a video.

  2. I love this exercise because it always makes me feel like a bada$$!