Examining the Turkish Get Up

As I alluded to in my Dan John podcast from a few weeks ago, we’re using more and more Turkish get-ups (TGU) in our programming.  Obviously, it’s a fantastic exercise, but it’s got me thinking more and more about why it’s so great.

When you break down a get-up, here’s a short list of benefits I can think of:

–       Improved shoulder stability (especially in the low traps and rotator cuff)

–       Improved thoracic spine extension

–       Improved core strength/stability

–       Improved hip mobility in multiple planes

–       Improved hip extension

And while that’s all fine and dandy, I think if we simply look at those isolative points, we’re missing the boat to a degree.  Here are some of the reasons I like to include Turkish get-ups in my programming.

1. Break the monotony!

So much of what we do in the gym is purely front-to-back or side-to-side.  With TGU’s, it breaks that monotony.  It’s not only good for our bodies, but for our brains as well.

2. A Fantastic Diagnostic Tool

While a great initial assessment is important, we also need to adopt the “always assessing” mindset.  Quite simply, we’re always watching our clients and athletes move from the second they walk in the door.

TGU’s not only give us a better idea of how they move, but also the limitations they suffer from, and asymmetries that we should be working to address.

3. Regaining our athleticism

As I mentioned above in #1, so much of what we do in the gym is regimented and strict.  While a maximal deadlift is friggin’ cool, it’s definitely not the most athletic thing I’ve ever seen. (And yes, I’m sure powerlifters everywhere are going to be fuming all over the Interwebz after I write this one!)

Athletics force us to react to different situations, and adapt to them.  This is one of the major benefits of TGU’s – they put us in a much more dynamic environment and force our body’s to adapt and overcome.

As you can see, I’m a huge proponent of the TGU and it’s something I’m going to be employing heavily in upcoming programs.  If you’d like more information on the TGU, I’d highly recommend checking out Brett Jones and Gray Cook’s Kettlebells from the Ground Up DVD and manual at Dragon Door.

You can also find out more about kettlebell training in general from the two podcasts I’ve linked below (because I know everyone likes free stuff!):

Dan John podcast

Brett Jones podcast

Stay strong


(Robertson Training Systems is an Affiliate for Dragon Door)


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  1. I use TGU as an ‘activation’ exersice before my chest and/or shoulder exercises. It wamrs me up and give my ‘core’ a great workout, and more then anything I like the ‘full body’ aspect of it, you have to use your whole body to dot hem 🙂

  2. As a person with sever reoccurring ITB/knee/hip problems the TGU and swings have helped me learn how to move from the hops again. When I realize I am walking from the knees I know it’s time to incorporate more TGUs and KBS into my program. Glad you are going to be using KBs more.

  3. Great post – just tweeted and blogged about it (I am getting really into TGUs these days)! And ordered “Kettlebells from the Ground Up” – sounds really good.

  4. I am wondering what is the hardest part of the Turkish Get-up? Is it the point of coming from a position lying on the floor or the part of standing while supporting a weight locked out overhead? ….thanks for any reply

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