Swiss Army Knife of Exercise: The Turkish Get-Up

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Written by Ben Kempen

In life or in athletics, training exercises should mimic the different movements that we perform, so they can be executed effectively and efficiently. If we look at a few movements that we do in our day-to-day life, some the most common ones are squatting, crouching, and getting up and down from the ground/floor. All of these movements have some form of ankle, knee and hip extension or flexion used to accomplish the movement. When we think of different exercises that target these areas some of the first ones that come to mind are squats, dead lifts, or some form of an Olympic lift, but there is one exercise that gets forgotten: the Turkish Get-Up!

The Turkish Get-Up (TGU) incorporates all kinds of ankle, knee and hip movement along with getting up and down from the floor. It also includes shoulder stabilization. The TGU is a great way for the anyone to learn how to connect their whole body and use it as a complete unit. The TGU requires you to learn how to push both through the ground and through the kettlebell, while the maintaining a strong core to provide support to the rest of the body – it is truly one of the best total body exercises!

TGUs can be used in a variety of ways. One way is as an assessment to identify weak and/or tight muscles. A second way is as a warm-up exercise to help gauge where you are with your movement that day. TGUs can also be used as a strength exercise to help the body become confident in its ability to handle heavy loads overhead.

So, for those of you who are struggling with reaching that goal weight on an overhead movement, the Turkish Get-Up can be a great way for you to get ready to finally reach that goal. All of these different benefits from one exercise shows that the Turkish Get-Up might just be the swiss army knife of exercise!

How to do a Turkish Get-Up

1. Grip the kettlebell while laying on the side it is to be used.

TGU Step 1

2. Roll onto you back and press kettlebell overhead. Bend your knee that is on the same side of your body as the kettlebell, and lay opposite arm at 45 degree angle.

TGU Step 2

3. Sit up (at an angle, not straight up) to your elbow, then hand while sitting tall.

TGU Step 3

4. Drive through floor extending the hips, creating a straight line from knee to shoulder.

TGU Step 4

5. Pull your straight leg under hips, and place knee near hand creating a “box” with one leg forward and the other pointed at your hand.

TGU Step 5

6. Lift your hand from the floor, sitting up tall into a kneeling position.

TGU Step 6

7. “Windshield Wiper” by swinging kneeling leg straight, and pull toes under.

TGU Step 7

8. Using proper lunge mechanics, stand up.

TGU Step 8

9. Repeat these steps in the reverse order to bring you back to the ground.

See the video below for the full movement!

Don’t have a kettlebell on hand? Use a dumbbell instead!

Unfamiliar with this movement, but want to learn? Stop in and talk to one of our coaches!

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