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How to Perform The Kettlebell Turkish Get Up Hardstyle Benefits From The Ground Up

Updated on September 2, 2014

My Demonstration of the TGU

Introducing the Turkish Get Up

One can scour the Internet looking for a "correct" way to perform this exercise. There are many benefits and many variations of this exercise. Each version has it's own unique benefits, however they all have one simple theme. Lay down on your back, press a weight over head, stand up while keeping said weight over head and then lay back down.

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, and I'm paraphrasing here, there's more than one way to skin this cat.

It is important to recognize that there is no one "true" way to do a Turkish Get Up. In Pavel Tsatsouline's Enter the Kettlebell the Turkish Get Up is explained in detailed fashion but is also ambiguous enough for each individual to find their own groove.

The Turkish Get Up originated as an exercise for wrestlers in the middle east. It is an ideal drill to train a few things and reap the following benefits:

  • Resilient shoulders. The Turkish Get Up is great for rehabbing shoulder injuries and also a great pre-hab drill. It's a static hold that takes the shoulder through a full range of motion which is great for strengthening and longevity.
  • Train away inconsistencies in symmetrical movement patterns. In English that means; Do you have one side that's stronger or more agile than the other? How would you like to balance that out? How helpful would that be if you're an athlete, weekend warrior, martial artist, etc?
  • Re initiate primitive movement patterns. We "get up" every morning. Every night we lie back down. We "get up" often. As a child we had a certain suppleness that tends to dissipate as we climb into adulthood. We, as kids, had it all too easy. We could lie on the grass, roll around, sit up, lunge, squat, stand up, fall, swing like a monkey. All with relative ease. The Turkish Get Up will help you return to the athleticism of childhood.
  • Strength and conditioning. The Turkish Get Up is a series of movements that will deliver a full body workout as well as help you build strength, condition your endurance and improve overall mobility.

The Turkish Get Up also happens to be one of my all time favorite Kettlebell Drills of all time!

Jason Brown of Kettlebell Athletics Show You How

Gray Cook and Brett Jones on Movement

How to Get Up

The version of the Turkish Get Up that I'm going to review is the version taught at the Russian Kettlebell Challenge. It is adapted from the Get Up described in Pavel Tsatsouline's book Enter the Kettlebell .

In 2008, Grey Cook, Brett Jones and Mark Cheng developed a book and DVD about the Turkish Get Up. They called it Kettlebells from the Ground Up - The Kelos Sthenos .

Kelos Sthenos is Greek for beautiful strength. It is also where we get the word... wait for it... anyone? Anyone?

Calisthenics. That's right.

In this rendition of the Turkish Get Up, there are 7 steps to get up. Each one builds on the other and is a series of progressive movements that will help you dial in all the benefits that make the Turkish Get Up such a successful drill for strength and conditioning.

Let's review the Kelos Sthenos...

From the video, you will see that the Turkish Get Up starts on your back. Roll to your side and grasp your Kettlebell with both hands. Notice the fetal position and relaxed neck. Rolling and being in a fetal position are primitive movements that will help reconnect to that suppleness I mentioned.

After rolling back, use both hands to press the bell overhead. Once overhead, take the time to secure your Kettlebell and lock in 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. Also, make sure to keep your wrist straight at all times.

Take the leg that is on the same side as the Kettlebell and lift it to a 90 degree angle. Your foot should be firmly planted on the ground and your other leg should be straight with your glutes tight.

From here you want to press your foot into the ground while rolling to your side and posting yourself on your elbow. Keep your eyes on the bell, elbow locked and the bell needs to stay vertical.

From the elbow, plant your hand on the ground and press up onto your palm forming and axis between the bell in the air and the palm on the ground. This should be a position of strength. Make sure to keep the lats tight.

It is at this position that you will elevate the pelvis, driving the hips toward the sky to create some room as you are about to move your other leg through. This hip bridge is also here to slow you down. A well executed Turkish Get Up should take about a minute to get through. This high hip bridge will help you slow down a bit.

So now you'll pull your extended leg through and try to place it as close to your planted palm as possible. Again, keep your eye on the bell, wrist straight, and a relaxed neck.

Next transition into a lunge position. This is accomplished by shifting the weight on your hips and ending in another axis line from Kettlebell to ground. Another solid position of strength. Keep the shoulder down, chest open, and neck. It is here that you can shift your focus from the bell to straight ahead.

You will finish by standing up. Stand tall and proud. Stay tight.

Now slowly reverse the movement one step at a time.

Finish and a word on safety

As you begin to practice this drill, it is my sincere recommendation that you train with no weight at all in the beginning. There is a saying in the Kettlebell Community that goes something like this, "Never compete for space with a Kettlebell."

Since you are first learning a movement and want to train for having a good movement pattern, a weight overhead in the beginning may not be the best way to focus on and learn the drill.

Start out practicing without any weight. When you're ready to add a bit of weight, then add something complicatedly simple, such as a shoe or half full bottle of water. Only once you've got a good handle on the movement should you attempt the Turkish Get Up with weight. There's no need to go heavy in the beginning.

As always, feel free to leave a comment or question.  I'm happy to help!

Music To Get Up For


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    • David R Bradley profile image

      David R Bradley 3 years ago from The Active Side of Infinity

      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! ;-)

    • CyclingFitness profile image

      Liam Hallam 3 years ago from Nottingham UK

      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 profile image

      kjrzeek1 5 years ago from New Jersey, USA

      The Turkish Get Up is a great one stop shop exercise just like a burpee. Nice Hub!