The Turkish Get Up is one of my favorite exercises. It’s a great blend of mobility, stability, and it basically covers the developmental sequence we all used to get from the floor to standing. Nobody ever taught us how to roll over, stand, and eventually walk. We all just have those motor patterns hard wired in our brains. The Turkish Get Up addresses each phase from rolling to kneeling to standing.
I really love this exercise; however, you need to make sure you’re doing it properly. One of my favorite resources on this exercise is Kettlebells from the Ground Up by Gray Cook and Brett Jones. They really do a great job of breaking down the get up. This DVD basically spends 2+ hours breaking it down. It’s an incredible resource and if you’re interested in learning how to do a beautiful get up, you should really spend the money and invest in this incredible resource. You can find it here:
First, I want to cover the most basic part of this exercise…addressing and picking up the kettlebell. If you’ve done 50+ get up’s on each side, without weight, I’d say it’s appropriate to start using a little weight to challenge yourself. Start by placing a kettlebell of your choice to your side and lie down next to it. You will roll over on your side and basically be in a fetal position on your side facing the bell. From here, you will need to grab the kettlebell with a pistol grip and begin to pull the kettlebell tight to the body.
The bell should be approximately around sternum to belly button height. This puts the kettlebell into a good position and will keep your shoulder healthy. I can’t stress the importance of this stage enough. You will probably be fine initially while you’re learning the get up and using smaller weights. However, as you begin to develop this pattern and get strong, the weight and size of the kettlebell will start to increase.
Addressing the kettlebell properly will help keep your shoulder healthy and minimize the chance of getting a rotator cuff injury while getting into the starting position of the Get Up. Try to avoid lying on your back and using shoulder internal rotation to get the bell into the starting position. This is where the shoulder will be at risk when the weight of the bell increases. Take your time and learn how to properly get into the starting position. This will help improve your grip on the bell, put you into a better starting position, and most importantly…keep your shoulders healthy and happy.
Finally, in order to switch sides, you will also need to know the best way to move the bell from right to left. This goes hand-and-hand with addressing the bell properly, so giving a quick breakdown is only going to be beneficial to you. After completing the Get Up one side, you’ll need to switch and do the exact same thing on the other side.
In order to move the bell from the right-to-left or vice versa, you should roll on to your side and get into the fetal position you used to address the bell. From this side lying position, you can now simply slide the bell around the head in a halo type fashion. This will keep the bell on the floor and prevent it from slipping out of your hands. Do not cross the kettlebell over your face. This may sound pretty basic, but just about everyone will initially switch sides by lifting and maneuvering the bell directly over their face. One slip or mishap, and you could be missing some teeth. I love the Turkish Get Up, but not really worth losing some teeth over.
I will be breaking down the Get Up and going over some more steps to help ensure you’re doing everything properly. First things first though…start addressing the bell properly and learning to get into the habit of the halo switch. It may seem like a minute detail, but this little step can keep you strong, healthy, and incredibly durable. Be sure to check back as I will continue to break down this beautiful movement step-by-step.
Train Hard & Train Smart!
Steve & Jared