By Scott Iardella
They say the Turkish get-up has been around for 200 years. That’s a long time my friends. For those who are new around here, the “get-up” is an exercise that is highly regarded by elite performance experts, such as renowned physical therapist, Gray Cook and leading spine biomechanist, Dr. Stuart McGill. It’s a dynamic and powerful movement beneficial for anyone – whether a recreational exerciser, high-level athlete, or even a bodybuilder.
When I discovered this exercise years ago, it was definitely an “aha” moment in my own journey of strength and performance training. So, what is the get-up?
The get-up involves getting up from the ground to a tall-standing position while holding a weight overhead in a slow, deliberate, and controlled movement pattern. There’s a lot more to it than that, but that’s essentially what it is. If you think it seems easy, I’d challenge you to learn how to do the exercise and then perform it with a heavy kettlebell for a few reps – then get back to me. If you asked me for my preference of training modalities, I’d tell you that it’s best performed with a kettlebell because of the design of the tool. You could certainly perform it with a dumbbell or even a barbell (as an advanced progression), but a kettlebell is ideal.
Why would you do the get-up? Why would any athlete consider doing an exercise that the majority of the population simply does not do? My experience over the years has led me to believe that this may be one of the most valuable exercises we have available – regardless of age, training background, or training goals.
The get-up improves strength, movement, mobility, stability, conditioning, and a level of resilience that is unparalleled. If there’s an exercise that can literally benefit all people throughout their lives, the get-up may be that exercise.
A few repetitions of a get-up can reasonably fit into any exercise program without detracting from it – it would only enhance any well-designed program. Is it the best exercise for building muscle mass? I’m not suggesting that, but it will add serious strength, stability, and mobility to anyone engaged in a serious muscle building program.
Benefits of the get-up go far and deep, but it is specifically effective in promoting shoulder and upper body strength and mobility. And it could be done with high-volume work to contribute to upper body hypertrophy.
My personal opinion is that there may be no better exercise for overall shoulder health than the get-up because it activates the shoulder musculature and stabilizes the shoulder girdle complex in a very unique way. This is not a press, but a dynamic movement for the shoulder. In addition to the shoulder, the get-up activates the deep muscles of the abdominals and trunk stabilizers at a very high-level. And, it just seems to help everything else.
To summarize, there is NO ONE that I can think of who wouldn’t benefit from performing the Turkish Get-Up. Learning how to do the get-up is not difficult when you learn from a qualified instructor who can break down the exercise in a systematic step-by-step approach.
My recommendation would be to check out a local certified instructor who can show you how to perform this dynamic, proven exercise the right way to maximize results. You can also check out the YouTube videos, but be careful, many of those videos are “shoddy” to be honest. Instead, get with a trained instructor who can teach you the correct way to perform the movement and start performing one of the most resilient exercises we have available to us – an exercise that will last a lifetime and benefit any fitness enthusiast or athlete.
As a physical therapist and a strength coach, Scott has spent 3 decades teaching unconventional approaches to strength & performance training for long term health and fitness results. With numerous training and nutrition certifications, Scott is also one of the world’s foremost experts in kettlebell training and the prominent host of the Rdella Training Podcast. — Scott is the author of The Edge of Strength, a comprehensive new book describing his philosophy and methodology of training and performance (now available at Amazon.com)