Turkish Get-Up (TGU) is one of those exercise that people either hate it or love it. People hate it because they usually have no idea how it is properly done and never seems to make progress with it. And the people who love it knows what they are doing and always seems to get all-round strong from it. So should you even do this complex looking lift at all?
Yes you should if you want a balanced and strong body. The benefits are so great that even though it takes time to master the Turkish Get-Up, it is well worth the trouble. It develops such high level of functionality and improves total body coordination and awareness that many exercises cannot do. According to Dr Stuart McGill, a well-known spine biomechanist, in his book titled Ultimate Back Fitness & Performance, 2nd Ed, the TGU is an excellent exercise for injury prevention and performance. The TGU teaches the locking in of the ribcage on the pelvis, spinal posture control while steering a weight overhead as the body learns to maintain core stiffness while pushing through the other limbs. Below is a video of how the TGU looks like and how I maintained core stiffness and pushing through the limbs at the same time while manoeuvering under the kettlebell.
If you are a golfer, an athlete who plays any kind of racquet game or martial art artist, you will certainly develop better coordinated strength with the Turkish Get Up. My personal experience with the Get Up is it is a great exercise for developing total body strength and training the core or mid-section when performed with a heavy weight. If you are convinced about the need of doing the TGU and want to love it more, here are the steps for performing your TGU in the best way possible for you to gain the benefits. The Turkish Get-Up shown here is done with a kettlebell. With the off-centre loading of the kettlebell, it is a fantastic way to challenge the core muscles even more and works your grip strength as well. Obviously, the best way to learn the TGU is through an experienced kettlebell instructor or a Turkish Get Up workshop. And below serves as a helpful guide to learning the TGU and most unlikely to replace face-to-face coaching.
Set 1: Fetal Position
Lie in a fetal position next to a kettlebell and have 2 hands on it as shown in the picture above. Make sure your right hand is inside the handle of the kettlebell gripping it hard.
Set 2: Grip & Roll
Grip the kettlebell securely with two hands before rolling into supine position. Then bend your right knee shown above. Ensure your right foot is planted on the ground.
Step 3: Press the Kettlebell
Press the kettlebell either with both arms or your right arm. If you are unsure and attempting this TGU for the first time or using a heavy kettlebell, it is better to press with both arm.
Step 4: TGU Firing Position
After pressing the kettlebell to a full lockout, place your left arm down to the ground and have it somewhere about 45 degree away from the body. Ensure the right arm is fully lockout and the neutral wrist is maintained.
Step 5: TGU Elbow Position
Once you are able to stabilise the kettlebells in the right arm without the wobble, you will roll into your elbow as in pic above. Make sure you pay attention to the following:
- Push the floor away with your left elbow and not let rest on that elbow
- Right hip will rotate towards the midline of the body as the right knee cave in
- Move shoulders away from the ears
- Chest up and not cave your shoulders in
- Maintain a vertical line with both arms (see pic above)
Step 6: TGU Tall Sit
Extend or straighten up your left arm and at the same time “corkscrewing” your left hand into the ground so that you can get into a tall sitting position. Pay attention to the following:
- Tense both your lats and triceps muscles on your left side
- Keep your chest up
- Right arm stays vertical
- Right wrist stay neutral and does not bend
Step 7: TGU High Bridge (YOU CAN SKIP THIS STEP AND JUMP TO STEP 8 BY DOING LOW SWEEP)
Lift your hips off the ground by pressing the left hand and right foot into the ground. Pay attention to the following:
- Tense your muscles in both your arms and form a solid straight vertical line with both left and right arms
- Plant your right foot and left hand firmly into the ground when you lift your hips off the ground
STEP 8: TGU WINDMILL
While still keeping the left hand and right foot solidly planted down on the ground, move your left leg under the hip. Ensure that you are placing the left knee in line with your left hand. At this point, the left knee is resting on the ground. Pay attention to the following:
- Form a solid vertical straight line with both the left and right arms
- Maintain core stiffness and enough tension in both arms
STEP 9: TRANSITION TO UPRIGHT POSITION
Get into an upright position. Pay attention to the following:
- Maintain a rigid spine and hinge from the hips and get into the upright position
- The kettlebell should feel like it is sitting on the right hip once in this position
STEP 10: TGU HALF KNEELING POSITION
Do the windshield wiper with your left leg by turning the left foot out so that it becomes parallel to the right foot shown above (watch video above for more detail). Pay attentions to the following:
- Keep your right arm straight
- Kettlebell should feels like it is sitting on the right hip
STEP 11: TGU STANDING POSITION
Lunge into a standing position as seen above without bending your right arm while maintaining stability. Make sure that the kettlebell feels like it is sitting in your right hip again right through to the right foot.
Once you got to the TGU standing position which is halfway through, you will complete the TGU by moving through the steps detailed above in a reverse. But you can skip step 7 (High Bridge) by moving into Step 6 (Tall Sit) from Step 8 (TGU Windmill).
If you got a quick question about the TGU, feel free to post it in the comment section below.
If not, do check out the recommended TGU resources below: