The biggest limiting factor people encounter in strength training is flexibility. The turkish getup will not only create amazing flexibility, it will create unity that will carry over to every other lift and the real world.
I have mastered this, take me to the next step.
Today we’re going to learn the Turkish get-up, a lift that will develop the strength, flexibility, stability and mind/body awareness to perform our three primary kettlebell lifts and many others, with safety and maximum effect. This lift is going to do amazing things for your shoulders, and if you are experiencing difficulty holding a weight in the overhead loaded lat when standing because of shoulder inflexibility, then the Turkish getup is for you!
Five steps to the Turkish Get Up
I am going to break this exercise down into five steps for you to practice one at a time, start using light weight, a water bottle is fine.
Regardless of the weight you are using, treat it as though it is heavy, start with it close to your body and use both hands to press it up. Remember, you will bend the knee and plant the foot on the same side of your body that you are holding the bell. Keep your eyes on the bell until you begin phase five.
Phase one: The getup sit up
Your flexibility in your back is your best asset here, try to roll up by crunching the abdomen. Let the bell dip slightly in the direction you want to go, slightly forward as you move under it. Move sideways to your free elbow, then hand. You may position your hand slightly closer to your hip when you reach the neutral position overhead.
Phase two: Hip bridge
There are differing opinions on how high the hip bridge needs to be, some people believe in the full height hip bridge, whereas others teach a lower hip bridge that allows more stability in the shoulder. I say, do what feels right. The high hip bridge will give you more room when you do phase three, passing the leg under, personally I don’t feel that I need the extra room.
Phase three: The leg under
Don’t drag the foot as you bring it back behind your body, plant the knee in the most stable position possible. Knee placement is crucial, and I often see people placing the knee too far forward, backward, or off to the side. Remember, you are going to move your hand away in the next position and you will need that knee in a place that it can stabilize. Practice until you get it right.
Phase four: Windmill
You will need to focus on the hips for this movement, keep the midsection tight as you align your body and maintain stability of the overhead weight. Make sure your shoulder is packed down and back here as your body aligns vertically, the range of motion that you are taking your shoulder through in this phase is fantastic for flexibility and stability.
Phase five: Overhead lunge
Use the windshield wiper technique here to align your foot, and look forward, this will help your balance as you stand from the overhead lunge. Drive your overhead lunge off the ball of your toes of your back foot, not the top or side of your foot. Stand forward, not just upward, it will feel much stronger. When you reach the top, you should feel the weight balancing in neutral alignment with your entire body.
Reverse the overhead lunge, and put your eyes back on the bell and windshield wiper your back leg before you reverse the windmill. The negative (down) phase of this windmill is something to practice, try not to reach to the side with your hand and body, but slide your hips out from under the load instead, this will feel stronger, safer and more stable. Don’t drag the foot as you move it under and out front, set your pelvis in a controlled manner on the ground. Crunch your stomach and try to roll down one inch at a time. When you get to the bottom, use two hands to put the bell to the ground on the other side and now do the other arm!
Low reps with high frequency is the key to developing strong turkish getups, and strong turkish getups are the key to building a strong everything else. Take your time to practice this move, and be methodical the entire time, sloppy technique is pointless.
Refer to my video for a visual reference and feel free to post questions as you go. This exercise may seem a bit daunting at first, but because it gives you such obvious and immediate benefit, it is also very motivating! As I post more videos featuring this lift, I will discuss common mistakes I see people make that limit their potential in this lift, and therefore many others.
Workout Using The Turkish Getup
In this workout we will perform ten rounds of turkish get-ups using very manageable weight. Feel free to start very light and move up to a mid-weight bell if you prefer. I started today with a 53lb (24kg) kettlebell and increased on the fifth round to a 63lb (28kg) bell after I had warmed up.
Alternate hands with every repetition. Switch hands safely with two hands on the bell and remember to keep the bell as close to you as possible when switching sides. Each round is one turkish get up per hand for ten rounds, a total of twenty turkish get ups. I generally encourage people to start one arm sets with their non dominant hand. You will notice I go from my left hand to my right with each round.
Make sure you use excellent technique. Follow along to the video for constant visual and verbal cues to help you with each phase of the movement. Use each repetition as a learning opportunity. By fine tuning your technique you might be able to increase the weight you are using without any increase in physical exertion. It’s all about learning how to make the weight feel light. Pay attention to the most subtle changes and watch your improvement as it happens. Remember to have fun and stay process oriented. Come back to this session in a month and compare your performance. This lift carries over to nearly every other physical activity you can engage in!