I had a period where I poo-pooed on Turkish Get Ups. Not in the way clients poo-poo on them when they see them in the program. I just wondered what I could actually get out of an exercise that was resembled yoga more closely than strength training?
Part of this came from a statement I dismissed, “If your Get Up goes up, so does your strength.”
I know it covers a lot of bases — rolling, half-kneeling, lunging, and overhead strength — but I wouldn’t expect massive increases in total body strength.
It wasn’t until I looked with a new lens: “When your Get Up goes up, it means you’re getting stronger.”
Semantics, but details matter. The Turkish Get Up (TGU) is both an exercise and an assessment–but it’s not an elite strength builder.
Knowing this, they quickly made their way back into my programs. Since Turkey had not decreed a new standard for Getting Up, I went with their current technique.
Now that I kissed and made up with the TGU, there are benefits to including them:
- You can use it as a warm-up, “corrective,” or strength exercise.
- It begins on the ground, giving you external feedback from the floor regarding the position of your core. As you progress, you lose points of contact and challenge your skeleton to stay organized. Specifically, I’m looking to see if you can keep your hips and ribs stacked while changing postures.
- The ISO-DYNAMIC action on the shoulder is straight fire. The shoulder is tight enough to stay together, but loose enough to move. Most shoulder stabilizations fixate in a single position rather than challenge the relationship between the humerus and the glenoid (ball n’ socket). Changing the arm angle and rib position while actively balancing the weight is a novel stimulus.
- For clients who are admittedly unathletic, this fills gaps. If you have trouble transferring weight from hip-to-hip through the core during med ball throws, this ground-based version of a throw can replicate that motion, with the addition of increased core, shoulder stabilization, and hip mobility.
- When I really feel sick n’ twisted, I’ll put get-ups in during conditioning. This forces someone to slow down their breathing and consciously work to reduce their heart rate so they can execute a movement with precision. This is an entry-level strategy for skill athletes who desire to maintain technical skill while under lots of fatigue (I’d argue this is what many coaches are looking for with regards to mental toughness).
Today is about making the TGU spicier. Let’s face it: it can get BOOORING if you have shiny red ball…SQUIRREL!
Here are 6 variations I love that can challenge you more or in new ways.
#1. Turkish Get Up With A Press
If you aren’t bro’ing an exercise out, then I don’t know what to say to you. If you want to build delts you gotta press. Add presses with lighter weights to increase volume. If you can’t press overhead, just hit a couple reps of the floor press at the top and bottom, BAZINGA!
#2 Sandbag Turkish Get Up
Speaking of bum shoulders: if you can’t press a KB out or overhead, enter the Sandbag Turkish Get Up! This will allow you to load center mass without the testing your shoulders. I like this for grapplers too.
#3 Barbell Turkish Get Up
People love tricks. This is a fun one. The whole point of doing a Turkish Get Up is to get to the point where you can do fun and semi-dangerous stuff like this. A 7′ Olympic bar works best as it’ll have the most demanding stability requirements, but you can start with the shorty preloaded barbells at your club.
4. Turkish Get Up With a Kettlebell Windmill
This might be my favorite of the bunch. I love the windmill exercise. When done well this blasts the core and hamstrings. Do 3-8 reps at the top.
5. Bottoms Up Turkish Get Up
Holding the bell upside down increases instability and the challenge. This is my preferred variation for the warm-up, mainly when I’m in a bit of a hurry. Although a case can be made for testing the limits with a heavy single.
6. Turkish Get Up with Overhead Carry
You can press more out on the floor than you can overhead. Because you start on the ground, you can load a massive bell and take it for a walk at the top. A single-arm overhead kettlebell carry? Good night, Core. Take time to make sure you keep your rib cage down (as much as possible) and always reach long through the bell.
Keep it interesting friends. Master your basic get-up first. I prefer to do a shit-ton of reps from the floor to the elbow (metric shit-ton for the international folks)..this tends to be the most challenging step once you master the leg sweep. Once you clear that hurdle, start adding some variety based on your goals and attention span. You can’t go wrong!