How to do a Turkish Get-Up:
The Turkish Get-up is a really fun and effective exercise for a number of purposes. In particular, it is a great way to train overhead stability in a variety of shoulder articulations. It is usually performed with a kettlebell, but it can be used with any weight: a dumbell, medicine ball, a plate, or even a barbell!
The Turkish Get-Up:
Here is an example of a full single rep of a Turkish Get-up. After this we will break it down into 6 stages and explain the common errors at each stage:
The 6 Stages:
Stage #1: Lying Set-Up:
The lying set-up is as follows:
Lying on the ground with the kettlebell on your side, rock to the side of the kettlebell, grasp the handle with two hands, one hand clasped over the other, and hug it to your chest
From here with the weight held close to your body, rock onto your back so the kettlebell is now resting on your chest. Then press it up with both arms until the working arm is straight and in a balanced position vertically over the shoulder, then let go with the non-working arm. Your grip should be in the corner of the handle so that your wrist can be straight, and your forearm can fit in the crease between the handle and the bell on the side. If you grip the middle of the handle, your forearm will be in contact with the largest point of the ‘bulge’ of the kettlebell and as a result your wrist will not be able to comfortably straighten.
Your gaze should be up looking at the ceiling, using your thumb as a ‘sight’.
Bend the same side leg of the working arm up to your butt, then shift the foot out so it sits outside of your hips and your knee points inwards.
Take the non working arm and place it out straight at about a 45 degree angle from your body with the palm flat against the ground.
- Not getting the posted foot outside of the hip, so the knee does not point inwards
- Having your arm too far out or too close to your side
Stage #2: Elbow Rock and Straight Arm Post
If you have set up properly, this stage should be fairly straight forward:
Reach the kettlebell up towards the sky, while pulling with the arm posted on the ground (like a zombie dragging itself along the ground) and pushing with the posted leg to rock your weight onto the posted arm, until you are resting on your posted forearm with your shoulder confidently pushed down away from your ears. From here, straighten your posted arm so that you are supporting yourself on a straight arm, with only your palm on the floor.
- Not pulling the ground with your posted arm
- Not pushing yourself onto your arm with the posted leg (potentially due to erroneous leg placement in stage #1)
- Allowing the shoulder of the posted arm to shrug up to your ear.
The first two of these errors can result in an imbalanced rocking motion that causes your non-posted to leg to lift up in order to keep you balanced. However, when this happens, you leak efficiency in the movement and will not be able to lift as much as you should be able to, due to instability.
Consequences of Poor Arm Placement in the Setup:
If you misplaced your arm in the setup, you will find it difficult or impossible to rock onto the elbow:
Consequence of Poor Leg Placement in the Setup:
If you misplaced your leg in the setup, you will find it difficult or impossible to rock onto the elbow and it will not feel stable:
Stage #3: Thread the Needle/T-Post
From the previous position (the kettlebell is overhead, your other arm is straight and posted slightly behind you, one leg is in front out straight, and the other is still posted close to your hips) you are going to bridge your hips up by driving through the posted leg to make space for your other leg to come underneath you, and sit your knee down underneath your hips. Your upper body will naturally form a T-shape, where the weight supporting arm is vertically over the posted arm. In this position your knee will be under or very near your Centre of Gravity (CoG) so it will be easy to get up into a lunge from here.
- Setting the knee down prematurely, before it is fully under your hip
The consequence of this is it will be very difficult and fiddly to shift your weight off the posted arm to get into the overhead lunge in the next step.
Stage #4: Overhead Lunge:
If you got your knee placement right in the last step, you should be able to easily take your weight off the posted arm, into an upright position with the kettlebell still overhead. You will then rotate your back leg so that your back shin is aligned forward (imagine your legs are on train tracks, both need to be parallel and pointing forward). This is the step where you can stop looking up at the kettlebell once you are in stable position.
- Forgetting to rotate the back leg to get into a stable lunge before standing up
This will make standing up tricky, and imbalanced. If you are using a particularly heavy weight, this may also become hazardous as you could lose your balance and drop the kettlebell.
Stage #5: Standing Finish:
From the overhead lunge position, just stand straight up. Focus here is on keeping the ribs down, minimal arch in the lower back, and pushing the kettlebell up to the sky, shoulders up to the ears.
When the weight is light you can easily just stand up out of the lunge and bring your feet together, but as it gets heavy and potentially hard to stabilise overhead, it is good to get into the practice of standing up mostly in the lunge, then stepping your front foot back, then your back foot forward, making sure you are stable at each stage.
- Improper overhead position; arched back, kettlebell in front of you, bent arm, etc.
Stage #6: The Reversal
This is a step many people forget about. A full rep of a Turkish Get-Up does not end when you… get up. Not very intuitive, I know. You then need to reverse all the steps to return to a lying position again.
- Not following the 5 stages in reverse, and just getting down however you feel like, or just bringing the kettlebell down and putting it back on the floor.