The Turkish Get-Up is a complex exercise with lots of changing movement patterns. Learn how to do it right.
If you aren't doing the Turkish Get-Up because it looks like a complex move you could easily mess up, first, you're not wrong, and second, that's no reason not to try it. Here, we tapped the heavy kettlebell queen herself, Lacee Lazoff, certified personal trainer and FHIT Pro at Fhitting Room in NYC, to show you the ropes.
While it's true that mastering the Turkish Get-Up takes some practice, keeping at it is well worth it—when you see those strength, stability, and grip gains, you'll thank us for this step-by-step tutorial.
"The TGU is the ultimate move to build strength, stability, and test flexibility across the entire body," says Lazoff. "It requires and builds core strength, while uncovering sources of weakness [or imbalance] in the body."
What's more, proper form is key with the Turkish Get-Up, and you'll be glad you didn't half-ass it when it comes time to lift that heavy box on moving day. "This movement can simply not be done properly without shoulder, hip, and core stabilization—each important things for every human," says Lazoff.
Before even getting started, have a frank conversation with yourself, says Lazoff. Do you have a basic knowledge of functional movements such as hinging at the hips, lunging, proper spinal alignment? Each of these movements is incorporated into the TGU, and understanding how these patterns feel will help you maintain proper form from head to toe throughout the exercise. Plus, you can work your way up with bodyweight TGUs and other modifications to get you started.
One last pointer before you get moving, and this is perhaps the most important thing to remember about doing the Turkish Get-Up: Speed is not your friend. "Rushing through is one of the worst mistakes because each position is important to control for safety as well as developing strength," says Lazoff.
Watch Lazoff demonstrate how to perfectly execute the Turkish Get-Up with a kettlebell. She'll also show you what not to do (so you don't end up hurting yourself or wasting your time), as well as different ways you can simplify or modify the exercise while you're still getting the hang of it. (Mastered the TGU? Next up, you'll have to try the Shrimp Squat.)
How to Do a Turkish Get-Up
Start in the fetal position cradling the handle of a kettlebell with both hands at chest level. Roll onto back, while moving the kettlebell in to a supported position at chest. The bell should be on its side.
"Starfish" the legs by bringing them out at a diagonal from the hips. Pull the heel of the foot of the weighted arm in toward the corresponding glute (so if KB is sitting to the left side, pull left heel to left glute) with foot flat on the floor, knee bent toward the ceiling).
At the same time, push weight straight up above chest with straight arms. Place free hand that isn't supporting the kettlebell briefly down on hip on same side then move it directly out of the side of the hip on the floor. (Think hand-to-hip in one straight line.)
Push free hand on floor and your foot on the weighted side into the ground, then roll toward the free arm, balancing on your elbow. Keep your weighted arm straight and gaze up toward kettlebell. Then, push through palm of your free hand to straight arm and lift torso to sit up.
Lift the hips and sweep your straight leg back, gently placing that knee in line with the hand that's on the ground. Eyes should still be on the kettlebell.
Lift hand off floor and straighten torso to come to a kneeling lunge position with both legs bent at 90-degree angles.
Push through front heel to come to standing. Now is when you can move your gaze from upward toward kettlebell to straight forward in front of you. Free arm can be out to the side for added balance.
Reverse the movement, keeping eyes on kettlebell throughout each transition.
Common Turkish Get-Up Mistakes
Now that you know how to do it correctly, learn what not to do.
Don't bend the elbow of your weighted arm (aka lose the shoulder pack). Your shoulder should stay locked in place and your arm must be straight and in line with the ear for the entirety of the move. This keeps you from putting undue stress on your muscles and joints, and prevents the heavy KB from falling. Yikes.
Don't take your eyes off the kettlebell (until the end of the get-up when you're standing). Looking at the bell is essential, especially if you start to increase the weight. Avoid temptation to look at the free hand or in the mirror. Keeping your gaze on KB will help you control the weight and maintain proper form.
Don't slide your straight leg out too far when you're coming down from the get-up. Simply place glute down where knee was previously, instead of sliding leg out. This makes sure the alignment is correct throughout the entire exercise.
Exercises to Help You Do a Turkish Get-Up
TBH, this is not an easy move to master. If you need to modify or want to work your way up to it, here are some tips.
Bodyweight Turkish Get-Up
Move through the exercise step-by-step without a weight. This will allow you to really feel each position and make form adjustments without worrying about the added strength element.
Kneeling Side Press
Hold a kettlebell in racked position at chest height. Shoot hip outward to same side and touch the ground with palm of opposite as you push the KB straight up. Return to starting, racked position, and repeat. This exercise will help you practice proper alignment and hip hinging at the bottom of the TGU (steps 5 and 6).
Strict Press with Negative
From standing with the kettlebell in racked position at chest height, push weight directly above the head. Very slowly lower the KB back to racked position. This should take about 5 seconds. Repeat. This will help build strength in the shoulder and back as well as help you practice the locked shoulder position.