While exercises like the squat and deadlift often compete for the “best” exercise around, truth be told, the Turkish Get-Up might just beat them both.
The Turkish Get-Up is an exercise that works everything from head to toe and will challenge your stability, mobility, strength, and patience.
It can be utilized by bodybuilders, powerlifters, Crossfitters, and casual fitness enthusiasts looking to increase their training intensity and build more functional strength.
In this guide, we’ll tell you how to perform the Turkish Get-Up, what are the benefits of performing Turkish Get-Ups, and what are some common mistakes to avoid when executing the lift.
Let’s get started.
How to Perform the Turkish Get-Up
- Place a kettlebell or dumbbell next to the working shoulder
- Lie on the floor and cradle the weight into both hands. The working hand should grasp the weight with the non-working hand covering.
- Roll onto your back with the weight resting on your torso.
- Bend your right leg to 90-degrees. Keep your left leg straight driving the heel into the floor.
- Press the weight in your right arm straight up and extend your left arm perpendicular to the side, pressing your left palm into the ground.
- Tighten your core and press through your right heel and left elbow to come to a seated position (weight still over your head).
- Once you’ve achieved the seated position, contract the glutes to lift the hips, keeping the left arm extended and in contact with the floor
- Make sure to maintain straight (vertical) alignment between your wrist, elbow, and shoulder.
- Slide your left leg underneath you, so that your left knee is directly below your left hip
- Sit back on your back foot with a vertical torso so that you achieve the bottom position of a lunge with your right foot forward and the weight held overhead in your right hand
- Step forward with the back (left) leg while continuing to press the weight overhead and assume a standing position.
- Congratulations! You’ve just completed your first get-up. Now it’s time to get back down…
- While looking forward, step back with your left leg into a lunge so that your knee is on the floor
- Swing the left leg back around so that it’s perpendicular to the front leg
- Hinge at the hips and place your left hand on the floor in front of your left knee on the floor
- Stick your left leg out in front of you and put your butt on the floor
- Roll down onto your left elbow, and then onto your back
- Lower the kettlebell to your torso
- Roll to your side and place the weight on the floor.
As you can see, there’s A LOT that goes into this movement. That’s part of what makes it such an incredibly amazing exercise, but it’s also what makes the Turkish Get-Up one of the more difficult exercises become proficient in. So, don’t be discouraged if it takes you a while to get accustomed to the lift.
Benefits of the Turkish Get-Up
Total Body Builder
When you step back, take a second, and consider all of what goes into correctly performing just a single rep of a Turkish Get-Up, it’s easy to see why it’s such an effective exercise.
Within each rep, you’re performing:
- Hip hinges
- Overhead hold
- Overhead pressing
- Glute activation
- Core stability
- Unilateral strength
- Leg drive
- Shoulder stability
Add all that together and you have the makings of what could possibly be the most complete exercise ever!
Increase Shoulder Stability
Throughout the entire exercise, the muscles of the shoulder and rotator cuff have to fight like hell to keep the weight overhead and stabilize it so that it doesn’t come down and smash your face.
Remember, you’re only as strong as you are stable. The Turkish Get-Up is a prime example of an exercise that can help build stability and strength.
Increase Shoulder Strength
Building off the last point, in addition to challenging shoulder stability, the Get-Up also tests your strength endurance as you have to hold the weight above your head for the entire rep, from start to finish.
There is no “easy” part of the rep once you start it.
Furthermore, there’s really no way to “cheat” the rep, unlike overhead presses where you can hyperextend your back and use excessive leg drive to press the weight overhead. In order to successfully complete the rep, you must maintain core stability and spinal alignment to avoid falling over and/or dropping the weight.
Improve Lower Body Mobility
The Turkish Get-Up involves knee flexion, hip extension, and ankle mobility. Basically, every primal function of the lower body is challenged in the Turkish Get-Up.
When you add a heavy kettlebell or dumbbell to the mix, the athlete is forced to maintain good form and not jeopardize their alignment, which requires the utmost hip mobility. If you’re unable to move through the Get-Up pattern without compromising your form, hip mobility exercises need to become a top priority.
We’ve touched on this a couple times already, but if you want to have any chance of successfully completing the Turkish Get-Up, you better have a rock-solid core. Failure to properly tighten and stabilize your core will result in improperly completing the rep and potential injury.
Common Turkish Get-Up Mistakes
Just like any other exercise, individuals attempting the Turkish Get-Up the first few times are prone to some common mistakes, including:
Not keeping the arm fully extended
When you allow the elbow to bend, you place all the tension into the muscles, instead of allowing the body’s support structure to work as it is intended. Bending the elbow also creates instability in the shoulder, increasing the likelihood of injury.
Improperly Gripping the Weight
When you grab the weight, it should be gripped deep in your palm, not near the top of the palm, close to the fingers. Doing so will cause the wrist to bend, increasing stress on both the wrist and elbow. This weak grip position also increases the chances of your fingers giving out and dropping the weight, possibly on your head.
Not Packing the Shoulders
We’ve stated over and over again how important the shoulders are to this exercise. Creating a stable shoulder entails packing the shoulders -- pulling them down and back like you would if you were going to perform a bench press.
If you need a mental cue to pack the shoulders, think about performing a “reverse shrug” where you focus on pulling the shoulders down instead of shrugging them up.
Who Should Perform the Turkish Get-Up?
Anyone looking to improve core strength, mobility, shoulder stability, and functional fitness levels can use the Turkish Get-Up.
It can be programmed for both strength and hypertrophy set and rep schemes. It can also be included as part of a general fitness program.
If you’re just starting off with the Turkish Get-Up, aim to perform 3-4 sets of 3-5 repetitions with 2-3 minutes rest between sets using a lighter weight.
If you’re more experienced and looking to build strength, perform 3-4 sets of 1-3 repetitions with 2-3 minutes of rest with a relatively challenging weight.
The Turkish Get-Up is a top-notch exercise for building muscle and strength. It requires a considerable amount of patience and practice, but your effort will be well worth it as the Get-Up works everything from head to toe.
If you’re looking to up the ante on your workouts and implement more functional total-body exercises into your workout, give the Turkish Get-Up a shot!