The Turkish Get Up (TGU) has numerous benefits, mainly it provides practice transitioning from the ground to a standing position which is a skill human tend to lose as life progresses. The TGU develops spinal stabilization, it synchronizes movement between the upper and lower body while transitioning through a variety of planes and angles—all while holding a weight straight up overhead. The TGU ensures that the entire myofascial system is involved in producing and stabilizing force. As a result, no single tissue or joint experiences a force overload, which actually minimizes the risk of injury.
When learning the TGU, it is essential to first practice the TGU without any weight to ensure that proper muscle coordination and movement sequencing can be developed without the risk of dropping a heavy weight. Before using a weight, extend one arm and make a fist, as if holding the handle of a kettlebell, and then balance a shoe on top of the fist. This helps you learn how to maintain shoulder extension and stability while transitioning through the various stages of the movement.
The TGU is best learned by working on its individual components, which can then be sequenced into the complete movement pattern.
Please be sure that you have been properly screened by your doctor before tying any movement that may aggravate or could potentially cause you to exacerbate an existing condition.
The following steps are for performing a TGU holding a weight (or practice weight) in the right hand:
- Press the weight into position: Lie on your right side and hold the kettlebell with both hands so that your right hand is wrapped around the handle and your left hand is on top. Pull the kettlebell close to your body as you roll on your back and extend both arms to lift the kettlebell over your chest. Release the left hand and lay it on your left side at an approximately 45-degree angle while you bend your right knee and place your right foot flat on the floor. (Note: Throughout the entire movement, maintain a strong, tight grip on the kettlebell as if you’re trying to squeeze water out of a sponge.)
- Roll to elbow: With your right arm extended and your left arm to the side, lift your right shoulder off the ground as you curl your trunk to end up on your left elbow. Post to hand: From your left elbow, push your left hand into the floor as you maintain a straight spine and come up to an almost seated position.
- The bridge: Push your right foot into the floor as you straighten your left arm and left leg to lift your hips off the floor. (Note: Push the hips into full extension while leaning on the left arm.)
- The sweep: As you hold the bridge position with your right foot pressing into the floor, bring your left leg back and place your left knee on the floor (Note: During this phase, your arms should make a straight line from the floor up to the kettlebell to ensure optimal strength and stability of the shoulder girdle.) Remove your left hand from the floor as you move into a kneeling position with your left knee and right foot on the ground.
- Kneeling to standing: Continue to hold your right arm overhead as you press your right foot into the ground and swing your left leg forward (performing a lunge) to bring the feet next to one another.
- Return to the ground: Step back with the left leg and slowly lower to a kneeling position. Place your left hand on the floor and move your left leg to the front of your body as you hold the bridge position between your left hand and right foot. Slowly lower your hips to the ground before rolling all the way back to a supine (face-up) position.
It is recommended that when you are learning the TGU start by perfecting the positions and transitions between the first four steps before progressing to the full Turkish Get Up. Don’t rush the movement, focus on bracing the abdominals to maintain spinal stability while moving through each step of the exercise. Breathe normally, breathing should be natural and relaxed. Execution of both the “up” and “down” portion of the TGU are equally important, precision and attention to detail are required throughout the movement.