Along with the Kettlebell Swing the Kettlebell Turkish Get Up delivers huge results. The Turkish Get Up, Turkish Stand Up or Kettlebell Stand Up is very different from the Swing in that it focuses on your small stabilising muscles and develops a solid movement foundation.
During human development we earn our right to progress onto more demanding movements. Babies learn to roll before they can crawl, and crawl before they can walk.
In today’s society of quick fixes we are all too impatient and don’t want to earn our movement skills anymore. Beginners often advance too quickly and end up injuring themselves.
The Kettlebell Turkish Getup will not let you progress too quickly. It will stop you in your tracks. If you have a weak core, poor mobility or weak stabilising muscles then you won’t be able to complete the movement.
OK, it’s time to see what you are made of and to earn your right to move like a warrior.
Quick video of the Kettlebell Turkish Get Up:
Why would you want to do a Turkish Get Up?
1- Shoulder protection & rehabilitation
The shoulder joint is a very vulnerable area of the body, it has to be both mobile and strong. In order to keep the shoulder stable and in the correct position it has small stabilising muscles. The small stabilising muscles are often neglected in favour of the larger better looking prime mover muscles called the deltoids.
The Kettlebell Turkish Getup helps develop the small stabilising muscles ensuring that the larger shoulder muscle have a solid platform to work from. Failure to develop the shoulders in the correct orderof stabilisers first and larger prime movers second is one of the most common reasons for shoulder injury.
“The TGU strengthens muscles that stabilize the scapula in an optimal position. The trapezius, rhomboids, and serratus anterior must be simultaneously activated to pull the scapula into a position of depression and downward rotation.” (Jones & Ayash 2012)
2 – Develop a functional core
Each hip joint is connected to the opposite shoulder via a muscular sling system that crosses the body. Get Ups develop this cross body sling system and so naturally improves your rotational strength for racket sports, running and more.
“Core stability is believed to be critical for injury prevention and the transfer of power throughout the kinetic chain during movement. During the TGU, the core is challenged to resist spinal rotation, ﬂexion/extension, and side bending.” (Ayash & Jones)
3 – Safeguard against back pain
Turkish Get Ups are great for mobilising the hips and upper back. Flexibility in the hips and upper back ensures that the lower back does not have to rotate excessively protecting it against potential back issues.
The added core conditioning that you receive from the Turkish Getup also ensure that the lower back is better stabilised during movement.
4 – Improve posture
As you progress through the Turkish Getup you realise that alignment is very important. In fact, completing Get Ups without good body alignment is very difficult. If your posture is not as good as it should be the Get Up will certainly highlight that and put your body into a better position.
5 – Full body integration
When performing the Turkish get up muscles are worked throughout the entire body. The real beauty of this exercise is that every muscle has to work with each other in order to complete the full movement.
The Getup is complex. It requires constant cross overs between the left and right side. Stabilising muscles have to hold tight as larger prime mover muscles work in sync with them. Joints must also be supple enough to put the body in the correct alignment throughout the movement.
6– Assessment tool
We all have movement issues whether it is lacking adequate movement through the joints, weak core muscles, dominate large prime mover muscles, poor balance, or bad proprioception.
Get Ups will quickly highlight your problems and help you to overcome them. I frequently use the Turkish Getup as an assessment tool with clients to see an instant snapshot of their current movement skills.
7 – Improve overhead confidence and strength
During Turkish Get Ups the kettlebell is constantly overhead. Developing stabilising strength and confidence through this movement will dramatically boost confidence for other kettlebell exercises like the Snatch.
As mentioned strong shoulder stabilising muscles are vital for shoulder health. Spending time developing the stabilising muscles through the Getup will provide a much healthier and stronger platform for your larger shoulder muscles. If you struggle to press heavy weights overhead then this is the exercise for you.
8 – Warm Up
Due to the huge amount of muscle engagement and mobility required to perform Turkish Get Ups this exercise works well as a warm up. A few Kettlebell Turkish Getups before each workout will prepare you nicely and also give you a quick snapshot of your daily health.
If you find the Get Ups warm up particularly difficult one day then you may want to reduce the amount of intended exercise for that workout or warm up your shoulders with our shoulder mobility warm up here.
The Kettlebell Turkish Get Up Step by Step
Here’s how to do the Turkish get up step by step:
1–Cradle & Grip the Kettlebell
The cradle starts in the fetal position before you roll onto your back.
- Place the kettlebell next to the shoulder on the side you’re working.
- Roll to your side and cradle the kettlebell with both hands. The working hand grips the kettlebell, and the opposite hand covers it.
- Roll onto your back and place the kettlebell on your stomach.
2–Arm Extension & Knee Bend
From the Fetal position roll onto your back and help the kettlebell into the straight arm position. Don’t take your eyes off the kettlebell. Rotate your arm until it sits nicely in the shoulder joint. Use the opposite hand to adjust the kettlebell position so it lays comfortably against the back of the forearm. Bend the leg on the same side as the kettlebell and place the opposite arm out at 45 degrees. Ensure the sole of the foot is in contact with the floor. And open your legs wider than you think.
- Bent wrist – keep the wrist straight, do not let it cock backwards
- Shoulder not down in its socket – pull the shoulder down and into the floor
- Arm not locked out – you’re stronger when your arm is locked out, straighten it
- Bad arm alignment – make sure that the arm is at 90 degrees to the floor
3 – Sit Up (Turkish Sit Up)
Squeeze the handle tight as you sit up along the line of your arm, first to elbow and then to hand. Keep the kettlebell arm down with the shoulder in its socket and the opposite shoulder away from the ear.
- Side rolling sit up – don’t roll to the side in order to sit up, sit up at an angle following the line of your arm
- Standard sit up – don’t sit up straight towards your hips, sit up at an angle following the line of your arm
- Relying on the arm – try to avoid overloading the arm as you sit up, as you get stronger you should barely use the arm
- Jerking sit up – stay smooth as you sit up, don’t rock up and use momentum
- Using the kettlebell – don’t lean the kettlebell forward to help pull you up
- Raising the heel – keep your outstretched heel on the floor, failure to do so means you are overusing your hip flexors
- Keep shoulder down – keep the kettlebell shoulder deep in its socket
- Collapsing the chest – lift the ribcage and open up the chest, important for posture
- Sinking bottom shoulder – create distance between the bottom shoulder and the ear
Failure to sit up smoothly without jerking or using the kettlebell will indicate a weakness in the core muscles. Practice the Single Leg Deadlift as well as this part of the movement without a kettlebell.
Problems sitting up tall without keeping the bottom leg straight could indicate tightness in the hamstrings. Work on hamstring flexibility if necessary.
Push from the heel of the bent leg and drive your hips in the air and into full hip extension. There should be a straight line from the kettlebell to the bottom hand. Create distance between the bottom shoulder and the ear and open up the chest. Squeeze the glutes tight.
- Not fully extending the hips – push the hips up and squeeze the glutes tight
- Raising the bottom heel – extension should come from the hips not the toes, keep the heel down
- Arching lower back – don’t extend from the lower back push up through the hips, squeezing the glutes will help
- Sinking bottom shoulder – keep the shoulder and ear as far apart as possible
- Disconnecting upper shoulder – keep the top shoulder down and deep in its socket
- Bad arm alignment – if there is not a straight line from the kettlebell to bottom hand you will find the weight very heavy
Failure to correctly extend the hips could be due to tightness through the hip flexors or quad (rectus femoris) if so mobilise and stretch them.
Failure to extend through the hips but through the lower back could be weak glutes. Practice Bridges and Single Leg Deadlifts.
5 – Sweep (or the Hokey Cokey leg)
Sweep the straight leg back and through to a half kneeling position (we also call the Bow & Arrow position). Try to bring the leg straight through rather than around in a semi circular movement. Keep your eyes focused on the kettlebell at all times. You will notice some nice rotational mobility here.
- Don’t combine with step 6 – ensure you define this step without moving too quickly onto the next one
- Not opening the hips – take the knee back as far back as possible, don’t cramp yourself up, create space
- Dropping the hip – collapsing your bum towards the floor
- Placing your hand too far behind you – will cause you to collapse your bum towards the floor
- Lifting front heel – keep the heel down as you pull the leg through
- Bad shoulders – as with earlier steps keep the bottom shoulder away from your ear and top packed down
- Moving hand – keep the hand planted, it should not need to move, only sweep the leg
With this movement we are looking at the hips. Tight hips will prevent the sweep coming back through smoothly. Hip flexor stretches and hip openers will help improve the movement if necessary.
6 – Half Kneeling
Taking the hand off the floor straighten the body by folding sideway at the waist. Take the eyes off the kettlebell and look forwards.
- Arching the lower back – keep the glutes tight and hips forwards
- Not folding sideways – pull yourself sideways hinging at the waist. Do not rotate into the upright position
- Standing straight up – ensure you perform this step before standing up or you miss an important core exercise
- Caving at the chest – look forwards and pull the ribcage up
- Folding forwards at the hips – push the hips through with glutes tight, do not crease forwards and collapse the hips
- Forgetting to tuck your toe under with the back leg– you need to be able to press up using your toe at the back
Failure to fold at the waist and straighten sideways could be a core weakness. Practice the movement perfectly without a kettlebell to improve your strength.
Having difficulty kneeling tall with the hips through and chest raised could be tight hip flexors and/or weak glutes and/or weak core stabilisers.
7 – Standing
Drive from the front heel and stand. Steady yourself and then reverse the movement, step by step.
- Not pulling from the heel – don’t push from the rear leg to stand, pull yourself up from the front
- Forward leaning – often if your stance is too narrow then standing looks ugly, improve on your Sweep (step 5)
- Floating shoulder – keep that kettlebell shoulder deep into its socket as you stand
- Bending arm – stay strong and keep that top arm locked out
Fundamentally you are performing an overhead lunge from the bottom position during this movement. If you find this movement tricky then practice your deep lunges without a kettlebell and also the warm up exercise.
The Get Ups Descent
As you reverse the movement take your time. You are basically performing the movement backwards. There is one exception with the descent, you do not perform the hip extension as shown in step 4.
A Full Kettlebell Turkish Get-Up should take at least 30 seconds to complete.
Once you reach step 2 you can either sit back up again and repeat the movement or you can take the kettlebell back to step 1 and to the floor. Beginners should certainly practice returning the kettlebell back to the floor and then changing arms and repeating.