The Turkish Get-Up: Your one-move, whole-body workout

Turkish getup feature image

The Turkish Get-Up or TGU might be the ultimate exercise – one move to rule them all!

This full-body exercise can be done with a single tool – a heavy-ass kettlebell – and targets all the major muscles in the back, chest, shoulders, arms, legs, hips and core.

Here’s why you should try the TGU…

It’s one of the most functional strength exercises around as it mimics fundamental movement pattern, emphasising load balance and mobility.

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For these reasons, it has become a common sight in CrossFit boxes and functional training facilities across the globe.

Here’s how to do it…

The roll: Place the kettlebell on the floor and lie down next to it, with the kettlebell positioned next to your upper arm. Ensure that the handle is parallel to your body. Roll onto your side, into the fetal position and grasp the kettlebell. Place your other hand on top of the handle and pull the kettlebell to your stomach. Roll onto your back and help the kettlebell into the straight arm position, with your legs stretched out.

The handle should rest in the palm of your hand and run straight across, not at an angle.

Starting position: With the kettlebell in your right hand and your arm extended overhead, bring the knee of your right leg up and move your left leg out to the side slightly while keeping it straight. Extend your left arm out to the side. Keep your right shoulder blade pressed back and down into the ground.

To the elbow: Drive through your right heel and engage your core to get up onto your left elbow. Maintain head and spinal alignment by keeping your chest up and your left leg lengthened.

To the hand: Transition from your left elbow to your left hand and bring your torso into the upright position. Maintain spinal alignment and keep your shoulder close to your body to maintain the extension in your right arm.

High bridge: Drive through your right heel and engage your glutes to extend your hips off the ground and move into the high bridge position.

The sweep: Pull your left leg back between your right leg and left arm. Position your forefoot and knee on the floor behind your right foot and left hand.

The get-up: Position your torso in an upright position, then stand up with your right arm remaining in the fully extended vertical position.

The return: Step back with your left leg and kneel down, as you would in the downward phase of a rear lunge. Lean to your left side and place your left hand on the floor. Shift your weight onto your left arm. Pull your left leg forward between your right leg and left arm. Sit back down with your left leg extended outward and your right leg bent. Extend your right leg as you gently lie down.

Structuring your get-up workout

Using a weight that enables you to execute each movement with perfect form, perform between 3-5 get-ups with each arm to complete 1 set. Rest for 60 seconds between sets.

Level 1: Volume progression

  1. Beginner: Complete 2 sets
  2. Intermediate: Complete 4 sets
  3. Advanced: Complete 5 or more sets

Level 2: Weight progression

Use progressively heavier kettlebells following the same structure for adequate progression.

What it works…

This functional kettlebell exercise offers a host of benefits, including:

  • Promotes cross-lateralised brain function
  • Improves upper and lower body stability
  • Enhances core stability and strength
  • Strengthens arms and legs
  • Improves balance
  • Enhances proprioception (sensing our limbs in space)
  • Improves hip strength and mobility
  • Improves shoulder mobility
  • Builds functional strength
  • Moves through multiple movement planes

Author: Pedro van Gaalen

When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.

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