The Turkish Get-Up – Benefits For Athletes (There Are Many)


The Turkish get-up is one of the most unique, full-body movements that all athletes can benefit from. Its unique movement sequence challenges the whole body to work as a unit. The focus here is on stabilization, flexibility, mobility, and kinesthetic awareness.

In this article, I will be going over how to do the Turkish get-up, coaching points, common mistakes, and more!


How To Do The Turkish Get-Up


Equipment Needed

  • No equipment is needed if you plan to do your get-ups without an external load
  • Kettlebell or Dumbbell (Or a Barbell if you really want a challenge)
  • Yoga mat if the floor is too rough
  • Enough space to move around comfortably. You don’t want to be doing get-ups and worrying if you’ll hit someone or something.

Step-by-Step Instruction

  • Start by lying down flat on your back.
  • Grab your kettlebell or dumbbell and bring it to a position ready to press it up.
  • If you have the kettlebell in your right hand, bring your right leg to 90 degrees and keep your foot flat on the ground.
  • Press the kettlebell up. Always look up during the Turkish get-up and keep the kettlebell locked out.
  • Use your left hand and sit yourself up.
  • Bridge your hips up like a glute bridge. Your left leg should be straight (5-10 degrees away from the midline) and your right leg should still be bent at 90 degrees.
  • Sweep your left leg behind you and get onto your left knee.
  • At this point, you should be in a half-kneeling position on your left knee, kettlebell pressed overhead, and torso upright.¬†From here, stand straight up. You have completed the get-up.
  • You will work your way back down to the lying position.
  • Come back down to the left knee.
  • Use your left hand to brace, untuck the left leg, and straighten it out.
  • Now you should be in the bridge position with your left leg straight.
  • Sit down on your butt, and use your left hand to ease your body back to the lying position.
  • Bring the kettlebell back to the pre-pressing position.
  • Complete all reps on one side before switching sides.

Common Mistakes

The most common mistake I see with the Turkish get-up is going too fast. To glean the full benefits of the movement, go slow, and take your time through each phase of the exercise.

Emphasize stabilization in the shoulder, glutes, and core. Keep the kettlebell locked out the entire time. If the elbow gets soft, you’re not stabilizing the shoulder, and maybe you’re going too heavy. In the bridge phase, pause, and squeeze the glutes and core. Emphasize locking in each phase.

Don’t get sloppy as you get back down to the starting position. Getting up and getting back down should be done at the same tempo.


Benefits of Turkish Get-Ups


Turkish Get Up Bridge Position
Bridge position of the Turkish Get Up just before pulling the leg back underneath the body.

The benefits of Turkish Get-Ups are many and include:

  1. Core activation
  2. Shoulder stability
  3. Glute activation
  4. Single leg strength
  5. Kinesthetic awareness (Awareness of muscles and movement)
  6. Goal variability (Movement prep, main movement, accessory work, conditioning work, off-day regeneration movement)

I recommend the Turkish get-up for movement prep prior to lifts. I think this is a great exercise choice for athletes on upper body days, especially if you had a lower body session the day prior. This movement will get the blood flowing, and work on flexibility, mobility, and upper and lower body activation.

Turkish get-ups can also be a great choice as the main movement for a lifting day. I often programmed Turkish get-ups for baseball pitchers as one of the main exercises for their sessions. This is a movement that can be overloaded. Progressively increasing the weight of the kettlebell will challenge the athlete to get stronger and adapt.

The Turkish get-up is a “time under tension” movement. You cannot do a proper Turkish get-up by rushing, getting it done as quickly as possible, and get the benefits of the movement.

With that being said, this is a great movement for conditioning purposes. Use a lighter load, set a timer for 2 minutes, and complete as many perfect reps as you can on one side. When the timer goes off, switch sides. Complete 2-4 sets here.

This is also a great movement for off-day regeneration sessions. If you just competed or lifted heavy the day prior or maybe your body just doesn’t feel great, the Turkish get-up is a great movement to do. Do the get-up with either an extremely light load or maybe even just body weight.

Focus on feeling the stretches, the muscle activation, and feel your muscles move. We call this kinesthetic awareness. It’s a similar idea to what yoga seeks to accomplish. Focus on regaining some joint movement and flexibility. The idea is to feel better after you’re done.


Muscles Worked


  • Abdominal core muscles (Rectus abdominis, Serratus anteior, Obliques)
  • Anterior, Medial, and Rear Deltoids (Also upper back and rotator cuff musculature responsible for stabilizing overhead movements)
  • Glutes (Hip extension and stabilization)

Turkish Get-Up Variations


If you are looking to progress to the full Turkish-get up or just looking for some other unique core/mobility movements, here are some I recommend:

Tall Kneeling Get Up

Start in a tall kneeling position, with both knees down. Grab 2 kettlebells or dumbbells. Press them straight up. Bring one foot up so that you’re in a half-kneeling position, and then stand up. Work your way back down to the starting position. Alternate each leg until you complete your set.

Wide Stance Walk Out

Take a wide stance, think sumo deadlift stance. Hinge at the waist until your hands are on the ground. Slowly walk yourself out until your body is at the top of a push-up position (legs still wide). Don’t let your waist sag and keep that core activated. Walk your hands back and hinge back to the starting wide stance position.

Front Plank To Side Plank Transitions

Planks

Assume a front plank position. Rotate to a side plank. Rotate back to the front plank. Lastly, rotate to the other side plank. Hold each position for 10-20 seconds.


More Info and Links


Looking for some more great exercises to take your exercise regiment to the next level? Check out our core exercise library and crush your goals!

ChristianG

Christian Gangitano has 6 years of experience coaching collegiate sports performance. He coached field and court sport athletes at Longwood University, University of Richmond, and Elon University.

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