The Turkish get-up is one of my all-time favorite kettlebell drills.
How to Perform the One-Arm Turkish Get-Up
You can scour the Internet looking for the "correct" way to perform this exercise, but there are many variations of it. Each version has its own unique benefits, but they all follow one simple theme: Lay down on your back, press a weight over your head, stand up while keeping said weight over your head, and lay back down.
This version of the Turkish get-up is adapted from the one described in Pavel Tsatsouline's book, Enter the Kettlebell. There are multiple steps, each one building on the other in a series of progressive movements that will help you reap all the benefits of this strength and conditioning drill.
- Start by lying down on the ground, kettlebell on the floor next to you. Roll to the side into a fetal position and grasp your kettlebell with both hands. Keep your neck relaxed.
- Roll back onto your back and use both hands to press the kettlebell over your head. Once it's overhead, secure the kettlebell in one hand and lock your arm into this position. Your arm and your body should form a right angle, your shoulder should be pulled down towards your feet and your back muscles should be firm. Keep your wrist neutral. Place the opposite arm flat on the ground, at a 45-degree angle from your body.
- Take the leg on the same side as the kettlebell and bend your knee to a 90-degree angle, planting your foot firmly on the ground. Your other leg should remain straight, glutes tight.
- Keeping your eyes up toward the kettlebell and the elbow holding it locked, press the foot of your bent leg into the ground while rolling to your side and propping yourself up onto your other elbow. The kettlebell needs to stay vertical.
- Plant your hand on the ground and lift yourself up onto your palm, forming a straight line between the kettlebell in the air and your palm on the ground. Make sure to keep the lats tight.
- From this position, lift your pelvis, pointing your hips toward the sky to create a high hip bridge. There should be some room underneath you.
- Pull your extended leg through and place it as close to your planted palm as possible. Again, keep your eyes on the kettlebell, your wrist straight, and your neck relaxed.
- Transition into a lunge position by shifting the weight on your hips, creating a straight line from the kettlebell to ground. Keep your shoulders down, chest open, and neck relaxed. Shift your focus from the kettlebell and look straight ahead.
- Stand up, tall and proud. Keep your muscles tight.
- Slowly reverse the movement, one step at a time.
A well-executed Turkish get-up should take about a minute to get through. Again, there are many variations. You can do it with one arm or two. You can get up from a lunge or a squat. You can do a high hip bridge in the middle or just pull a leg through. As Grey Cook put it, there's more than one way to skin this cat. In Pavel Tsatsouline's book, the Turkish get-up is explained in detail, but the description is ambiguous enough that each individual can find their own groove in the movement.
Practice Without a Weight First
As you begin to practice this drill, it is my sincere recommendation that you train with no weight at all in the beginning. Since you are learning an exercise and want to have a good movement pattern, holding a weight overhead may not be the best way to focus on learning the drill and can lead to injury.
When you're ready to add a bit of weight, start with something small and simple, such as a shoe or half-full bottle of water. Only once you've got hang of the movement should you attempt the Turkish get-up with a weight.
This Drill Has Many Benefits
The Turkish get-up was originally developed as an exercise for wrestlers in the Middle East. It is the ideal drill to train a few different muscles, and it has the following benefits:
- It builds resilient shoulders. The Turkish get-up is great for rehabbing shoulder injuries and is also a great pre-rehab drill. It's a static hold that takes the shoulder through a full range of motion, which is great for muscle strength and longevity.
- It trains away inconsistencies in symmetrical movement patterns. In other words, it helps balance you out if you have one side that's stronger than the other. How helpful would that be if you're an athlete, weekend warrior, martial artist, etc.?
- It reinitiates primitive movement patterns. We "get up" every morning, and every night we lie back down. Children have a certain suppleness that tends to dissipate as they reach adulthood. We, as kids, had it all too easy. We could lie on the grass, roll around, sit up, lunge, squat, stand up, fall, or swing like a monkey, all with relative ease. The Turkish get-up will help you return to the athleticism of your childhood.
- It develops strength and conditioning. The Turkish get-up is a series of movements that deliver a full body workout, helping you build strength, develop endurance, and improve your overall mobility.
The Turkish get-up also happens to be one of my all-time favorite kettlebell drills!
My Rendition of the Turkish Get-Up
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
David R Bradley (author) from The Active Side of Infinity on January 31, 2015:
Yes, if you're looking at core stability look at the Hardstyle Swing. Different from the crossfit swing. Hardstyle Swing is crisp, like a punch and will help create a higher level of core stability while working on endurance. Also, Kettlebell Single Leg Deadlifts would be great for runners, stability and engaging more stabilizers. Try both bare foot - just watch where you're dropping the bell! ;-)
Liam Hallam from Nottingham UK on January 30, 2015:
A real exercise in whole body stability- I've done plenty as part of Crossfit style workouts and as someone that does a lot of running I find it helps with my core stability for running when combined with Kettlebell Windmills as I have to work to stabilize despite the twisting action- Any other recommended KB exercises for runners?
kjrzeek1 from New Jersey, USA on June 21, 2012:
The Turkish Get Up is a great one stop shop exercise just like a burpee. Nice Hub!