This is a question I have been asked a number of times this week and it seems to be cropping up quite often, along with the slightly more trivial “Why are they Turkish?”
To be totally honest I think a better question to be asked would be “What aren’t Turkish GetUps good for?” The answer would probably be shorter.
If you have never heard of the Turkish Get Up (TGU) before, let me explain.
It is a sequence of movements that take you from lying flat on your back with a weight in your hand then coming progressively to a standing position – and then back down. Here’s a quick demonstration from Rob.
With beginners we tend to teach the ½ Get Up first as shown in this video. The main reason we teach this first is that there are technically 13 steps to a full TGU so breaking down the movement to start with makes a lot of sense.
So then, to address the title…
Why do we get so many of our members performing Turkish Get Up variations, and why are they suitable for just about everyone?
1. It develops a great amount of shoulder stability.
Keeping the Kettlebell/Dumbbell directly over the shoulder in many different positions. In order to get out of phase 2 of our programming, one of the pre-requisites is to be able to perform a ½ Get Up with ¼ of your bodyweight before you see any pressing in a programme
2. It helps with Glute activation.
This is true especially in the “high post” position shown here.
In this position the cue is to get the hips into full extension and squeeze the Glutes, or backside, whilst keeping the eyes on the weight.
3. You will improve your hip mobility.
At the point where you sweep the leg through and onto your knee you need adequate hip mobility to perform it correctly, as shown here. This provides an important foundation for the rest of the movement.
4. Your core strength will improve.
TGU’s should be performed in a controlled fashion with obvious progression through the individual movements. The first and final steps specifically (from the floor to the elbow/ from the elbow to the floor) require a lot of core strength to be performed slowly under load.
5. It improves Thoracic extension
When the weight is challenging, you are forced you to brace your abs and keep a “proud” chest. This will improve the strength of your upper back.
Every single one of those points above serves to directly addresses some of the most common structural, mobility, stability and proprioceptive issues that many people are experiencing. Call it a ‘cure all’ exercise if you like.
Why would the TGU’s not be for you?
So I’ve really talked them up, but one of the reasons that you may not perform the full
get up in good form, might be that you don’t have sufficient shoulder mobility to press
overhead, meaning that you cant get your bicep to your ear without lumbar (lower
back) hyper extension as a compensation.
This would mean the top 2 positions wouldn’t be ideal for you, as you will not be able
to get into a favourable position.
Another reason that we wouldn’t programme these would be if someone didn’t have a
basic level of frontal plane stability and couldn’t hold a Tall Side Plank for upwards of
45 seconds each side.
The Tall Side Plank has a good carry over to the TGU because of the increased shoulder stability needed and the similarity in position to the high post hold.
Call me odd, but someone once asked me if I could only do one exercise for the rest of my life what would it be? They might not be THE exercise, but Turkish Get Ups would be right up there.