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Turkish Get Up

Breaking Down the Turkish Get Up: Roll-to-Elbow

by Jared Woolever

The Turkish Get Up has been one of our favorite exercises for quite awhile now. I know I’ve been using it myself, and with nearly all my clients, for a little over 5 years now. Even though I’ve been doing Get Up’s for many years now, I still haven’t quite perfected the motion yet.

I know what you’re probably thinking… 5 years and you still haven’t mastered the Get Up?

Yeah… 5+ years later and I still work on dialing in the technical aspects of this move. Going through the full movement will certainly challenge you, and if you continually work on the fine details of the Get Up, you’re mobility, stability, and coordination will drastically improve.

This is actually the third piece I’ve written on the Get Up. I’m working on putting together an article for each phase of the Get Up. Learning the Get Up in phases is the ideal way of teaching this move, so I figured I’d break it down into the distinct phases we use ourselves, and with our clients, on a regular basis.

The phase I want to discuss here will be the Roll-to-Elbow. This is the third phase I’ll be covering, so be sure to catch up if you’ve missed the first two articles. You can check out those here:

Turkish Get Up: Roll-to-Press

The Turkish Get Up is by far one of my favorite exercises. This complex movement really challenges mobility and stability within the body all at the same time. The Turkish Get Up starts from the floor in the fetal position and develops sequential patterning that teaches you how to get up from the floor. If you look at the different phases, you’ll notice a similarity to babies and how they learned to stand and eventually walk. I always love finding ways to retrain the patterning that was innate and never taught as babies, and the Turkish Get Up does just that.

If you missed the first phase of this movement, be sure to check out How To Address The Bell Properly. After understanding how to address the kettlebell and get into a solid starting position, you’re going to have to learn how to press the kettlebell and get the bell into position to complete the rest of the movement. If you neglect the importance of this phase, the rest of the movement is going to be harder than it really should. The Turkish Get Up is more about positioning versus pure strength. Positioning the bell properly and learning how to stabilize the joints will make this movement look graceful and thing of beauty. You’ll start to be able to use a lot of weight and make it look almost effortless. However, if you’re using pure strength to hold the bell in position, you’ll look tense and you’ll work much harder than you should to perform this movement.

After you’ve gotten the bell in position to press, use both hands to press the bell into place. Stabilize and control the bell at the top of the press by packing the shoulder. If you’re unfamiliar with how to properly pack the shoulder, be sure to check out our Red-to-Green series on Shoulder Mobility. We cover shoulder packing as the first progression in the series of exercises designed to clear shoulder mobility issues. Learning how to properly pack the shoulder is extremely important and will help set up the rest of the Get Up. If you don’t learn how to properly pack the shoulder, you’ll end up muscling through the Get Up versus using alignment and body position to perform this movement.

The press is all I want to cover in this article, so lets work on a few tips to dial in the stability of the shoulder holding the kettlebell. As we cover the next phase of the Turkish Get Up, Roll-to-Elbow, we’ll talk about how to keep both shoulders stable and packed. However, this phase is all about setting the shoulder into good position on the kettlebell side. 

turkish get up


Turkish Get Up: Addressing the Bell Properly

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:

Kettlebells from the Ground Up

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.

Turkish Get Up