Turkish Getup Guide - 7 Tips Plus Common Mistakes

For such a funny name, the Turkish getup is a great full-body exercise. They increase our torso stabilization and improve our overall strength.

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If you've never heard of a Turkish Getup, this movement is pretty complex and requires a lot of upper body strength and stabilization. Building overall strength and shoulder stability, you use your hip and glutes to raise your body off of the floor.

I don't know if you lay down on the floor much, but getting up is hard enough. Imagine holding a kettlebell straight above your body while standing up.

While not impossible, this exercise is very functional and includes many of our most basic human moving patterns. That means that it's exceptionally powerful and helpful in our quest for greatness. Well, at least it will help you get stronger and more agile.

As this exercise builds more popularity, it's only worth doing if you will do it right. Just like any compound movement, it takes dedication to proper form to see results.

So how does this exercise help you?

If shoulder stability, improved mobility, and agility aren't appealing... You are learning how to move while under heavy weights. It's a great way to learn body control and awareness.

In order to properly perform a Turkish getup, you must "lock" your rib cage to your pelvis using your core muscles. Similar to planks, you'll be forced to produce and absorb force through a range of diverse stances.

This is the exercise that many strength coaches and rehab specialists have been raving about.

The Turkish Getup Isn't Just One Move

When we think of doing a bench press, there's an ascending and descending aspect to the move. It's a compound movement, and it works great.

The Turkish getup, however, takes multiple movements on multiple planes. Below we will go over how to properly (safely) do a Turkish getup, what to watch for, and what to work on.

Turkish Get-Up Tips for a Better Kettlebell Workout | Joe Daniels

How to Perform the Turkish Getup

Every move below needs to be done with caution. This movement will take some time to learn, so doing the move without a weight at the beginning is highly recommended.

This movement is supposed to be a chain of movements that fluidly work together. Jerky transitions are not recommended. Again, practice without weights before you try a weighted Turkish getup.

1.) Cradle and Grip the Kettlebell

Choose which side you want to work on first.

Lie down on the floor and place the kettlebell next to your shoulder on the side you are working on. Roll to that side and cradle the kettlebell with both hands. Grab the kettlebell with your working hand first, using your other hand to safely hold it.

Example: If you are laying on your left side, you are working your left hand.

Roll onto your back and place the kettlebell on your stomach.

2.) Press the Kettlebell Overhead

Move the bell and press your kettlebell so that your arm is perpendicular to the floor. You can use one or both of your hands.

Using only one hand is more advanced so a two-handed pistol-grip works just fine.

Lock your elbow out and tighten your shoulder into your socket. This locks the weight and improves your overall shoulder stability.

Bend your knee on the side that is holding the kettlebell. Place your empty hand about 45 degrees to your side - about 4 or 5 o'clock on a watch.

3.) Roll up onto Your Elbow and Transition to Your Hand

Roll your body so that the arm you placed to your side can now rest on your elbow. After you regain stability on your elbow, keep rolling until you are resting on your hand.

Note: Don't skip rolling to your elbow before your hand.

Load the heel of your bent leg to prepare to lift your hips.

4.) Lift Your Hips

Now that you are ready to lift your hips, take a moment to tighten your core and ensure you are properly stable. Drive your weight to your heel, squeeze your glutes, and lift your hips high enough off of the ground that you can move your outstretched leg under you.

By now, you are supporting your weight on your one hand, the heel of your outstretched leg, and your foot that is flat on the ground. Think of it like a tripod.

Keep your arm as vertically straight as possible. The more weight you start using, the more you will see why.

It's similar to trying to bench and you get out of your groove. You've lost your leverage and you're going to pay for it.

5.) Sweep Your Leg

Now is the time you take your outstretched leg and pull or sweep it under your body. You want to get your knee close to the hand that is on the floor.

Both of your legs are now pointed at a 90-degree angle - one pointing straight ahead, the other directly at your hand on the floor.

Keep your neck rotated upward, keeping an eye on the kettlebell in your hand.

6.) Stand up From a Lunge Position

Take the support from your hand on the ground and place that weight on your knee. Slide your leg like a wiper blade so that you are now in a low lunge position.

Shift your body upright and keep the kettlebell overhead. Now is the time to shift your gaze from your kettlebell hand to straight ahead.

Produce power from your back leg, hips, and front foot to stand up from a lunge. Keep your gaze facing forward.

7.) Back on Down

If you thought the first half of a Turkish getup was hard, just wait for the rest of the movement. Now is the time that we basically "reverse" our movements.

Keeping your gaze forward, do a lunge and rest your knee on the ground. Maintaining a rigid and straight body, slide your leg like a windshield wiper so that your back leg is perpendicular to your front leg.

Fold at your hips and slowly place your hand just in front of your knee on the ground. Stretch your front leg out and get your butt on the ground.

Carefully roll from your hand down to your elbow, then your shoulders, and back. Cradle the kettlebell with two hands to your stomach and then roll to your side.

Place the weight on the floor and count your blessings you made it through your first Turkish getup.

Common Turkish Getup Mistakes

This exercise has a lot going on, so that means there's a lot that can go wrong.

Like I said before, start this exercise without any weight. It's hard enough for some people (including me) to get up from the floor - imagine holding proper form with a weight in your hand.

This move takes a lot of practice and time to get proper form and build muscle memory.

Once you are solid on doing the exercise without any weights, we can now jump into some of the most common mistakes people commit when trying to progress with weighted Turkish getups.

Not Gripping the Kettlebell Properly

Just like with the bench press, having wrists that are not locked and straight leads to an offset center of gravity and can increase your probability of injury.

Think about hitting a punching bag or doing pushups on your fists. Your wrists are straight and not hyper-extended. You'll find your perfect position; it will take some time and practice.

Allowing Your Elbow to Bend

This exercise mistake is very common and can be the most potentially harmful. Allowing your elbow to bend at all, you are forcing your muscular system to overwork instead of using your body's support structure.

When properly performing a Turkish getup, the weight is well-supported by your bones. This is why taking your time to learn the movement is crucial.

This exercise is basically fluidly moving into one strong position to another.

Bending at the elbow destabilizes your shoulder and increases your chances of injury. Aside from that, your triceps will have to do all of the work. With fatigue comes injury - you may drop the bell and get hurt in the process.

Don't be lazy and maintain proper form.

Letting Your Shoulders Go Soft

Let's get a little science into the article.

When your shoulders are passively shrugged, the head of your humerus isn't centered in the shoulder socket. Maintaining a "packed" position with your humerus centered in your shoulder socket allows us to control the movement and keep our shoulders protected.

Learn how to "pack" your shoulders into their sockets and maintain this sensation throughout your entire lift.

Wrapping It Up

Turkish getups are a great way to build overall strength and stability. It's a hard exercise and needs to be completed with caution.

Practice this exercise without any weights so you can learn the cues and proper body placement. The goal of this exercise is to have fluid movements into these different power positions.

Grab a kettlebell and get to work.

Previous article 10 Bicep Exercises You Have to Try


Damon Harrison - January 11, 2019

definitely trying this.

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