The Turkish Get-Up (TGU) is a great, complex functional movement that utilizes multiple muscles groups. Moreover, it’s a movement that demonstrates both stability and mobility. This exercise commonly utilizes a kettlebell in one hand while the elbow is extended and shoulder is flexed throughout the whole movement. TGU is a great exercise to perform in the gym if you’re pressed for time and it doesn’t require much equipment or setup. Traditionally, TGU is used with a kettlebell but a dumbbell will suffice if you don’t have access to kettlebells.
There are a lot of parts to the Turkish Get-Up. It can be overwhelming if it is your first time performing it, so we will break up the whole movement into more manageable parts. We advise not using any weight at all until you feel comfortable going through the entire movement In fact, performing the TGU with your shoe balanced on your fist is a great way to practice as it ensures your arm is stacked with your shoulder. We want quality over quantity.
To make it easier to follow, start with the kettlebell in the right hand. The TGU will always start laying supine, back on the floor.
Follow the steps below to get into the starting position.
1. Set the kettlebell to your right side anywhere between the elbow and shoulder.
2. Roll to your right side and place the right hand under the handle (grip the handle) and left hand on top the handle.
3. Get a good grip on the kettlebell and roll to your back with the weight in the middle of the chest. It is best to grip the kettlebell with your thumb around the horn and fingertips on the bell.
4. Press the kettlebell up (use both hands, if needed) towards the ceiling.
5. Externally rotate the shoulder to utilize the three rotator cuff muscles on the posterior portion of the scapula; this will allow the glenohumeral joint to be more stable. ie, thumb back.
6. Bend the right knee and bring the heel as close as possible to the hips.
7. The left arm and leg will both be straightened out on the floor in a forty-five degree angle.
1. Keep your gaze on the kettlebell the whole time, which will allow for more control of the weight.
2. Initiate the lift by rolling your right hip toward the left leg, firmly pressing your right foot into the floor. Here you are working to sit up while leaning on your left elbow.
3. Press up onto your left hand, straightening your left arm, while driving the kettlebell toward the ceiling.
4. Bridge/elevate your hips off the floor by pushing your right foot into the floor.
5. Sweep your left leg back (between the right leg and left arm) and place your left knee on the floor. Left hand is still on the floor.
6. Use your core to get into a half-kneel position. Try not to push off the floor.
7. Position your left foot so that it is behind the left knee. This will square the hips.
8. Push into the floor with your right foot and stand up tall. YOU’RE HALFWAY THERE!
9. Step back with your left leg into a reverse lunge and gently place your left knee on the floor.
10. Place your left hand directly off to your left side.
11. Sweep your left leg forward into a forty-five degree angle. Left leg should be straight at this point. Body weight should be dispersed between your right foot and left hand to allow the left leg to be fairly weightless during transition.
12. Slowly lower your hips to the floor.
13. Slowly lower to the left elbow.
14. Slowly roll back to the floor. DONE!
You just did a full rep on the right side! We know that was a lot of steps but keep practicing and the movement will become more fluid. Repeat the same steps for the left side. In terms of volume, we tend to keep the reps low between two to four on each arm, and perform for three to five sets total. There’s a lot of of time under tension during the Turkish Get-up so it’s not necessary to perform a lot of reps. Focus on quality over quantity. You may increase the weight or turn the kettlebell bottom-up if you want to increase the difficulty.