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.
After you’ve gone through the proper progressions going from the fetal position to the press, now let’s work some movements to help the shoulder learn to stabilize. Once the bell is locked out at the top of the press, we can do small, subtle movements to help the shoulder “learn” how to stabilize. The job of the rotator cuff is more about timing and stabilization, so these drills are an excellent way to train the cuff properly.
The first movement I like to do when teaching the roll-to-press phase is to add some neck clocks. Numerous people will start to lock up their upper traps and neck to help stabilize and control the bell. The shoulders can start to creep up towards the ears and the next thing you know, your neck is locked into position. Adding some subtle neck clocks or rotations can help learn how to keep tension out of the neck and traps making the rotator cuff do more of the work. Good cuff control and stabilization are vital to performing a good Turkish Get Up, so use this phase to really dial in the concept of packing the shoulder with the kettlebell and minimize the use of accessory muscles.
Next, I like to add small circles. Don’t worry; I’ll add some video to help you see what I’m talking about. These small circles will help change the dynamics of stabilization. You’ll quickly find out where the bell “feels” the best. There’s going to be an ideal spot for you to hold the bell, and these little circles will help your body find the most ideal spot for you to hold the bell. If you feel loss of control during any phase of the Get Up, adding these small circles can really help you during that specific phase of the Turkish Get Up.
Now that we’ve covered the circles, let’s dive into the next drill we like to use to train the cuff and teach proper stabilization. The next drill in this position is going to be taking the shoulder through internal and external rotations. The movement doesn’t have to be exaggerated; it only needs to be enough ensuring the shoulder will stay in a good, packed position. Adding these small, subtle movements can do an amazing job at training the rotator cuff. More often than not, the shoulder will twitch like crazy. This is perfect. It means the shoulder is learning how to stabilize properly. Over time, these little twitches will diminish as the shoulder becomes more stable.
Finally, the last little movement we like to add to this phase is called “juicing the movement.” (Stolen from Dr. Mark Cheng) When we juice the movement, we’re basically taking the shoulder from a nice packed position and losing it. We will press the bell 1-3 inches allowing the shoulder to come unpacked and off the floor. Immediately after pressing the bell and losing the shoulder packing, we will regain the stability in the shoulder by packing it again. We will work a handful of reps here taking the shoulder from a packed position to an unpacked and unstable position. Getting the body to feel a packed shoulder versus an unpacked shoulder will help each phase of the Get Up moving forward.
Take your time with developing a good, solid Turkish Get Up. Work each phase we cover to death. Do repetition after repetition and do your best to not skip any phase we cover. Along the way, you’re going to find a couple phases that will give you issues. Please feel free to add a comment below and we’ll help add the small details into your training to help make your Turkish Get Up as solid as possible.
So there’s the first two phases of the Get Up. Take your time with each phase and slowly add on. The next article in this series is going to cover the roll-to-elbow phase, so be sure to stay tuned and ask questions along the way 😉
Train Hard & Train Smart!