The Turkish Getup is one of those lifts that people either love or hate. Many people swear by them, while others don’t see the point in them. Let me take a few minutes to give my two cents on one of the most misunderstood exercises in the world of functional weight lifting.

First of all, let it be said that the TGU is not a kettlebell specific exercise. Traditionally, it would be more often performed with a barbell that would require more stability to balance with one hand. A kettlebell can be a good substitute, and because of it’s compact design, it is often more practical. It will change the feel of the lift slightly, not just because of the stability factor, but also because the kettlebell may improve the sensation of sinking the weight down your lat.

The main reason for the TGU is to provide a stable foundation for other lifts by developing stability, flexibility and focus. The range of motion in your shoulder while moving under the weight will create a base of strength that will make massive changes to your primary kettlebell lifts. You will notice this especially in overhead lifts like the clean&press and snatch, where it is so common to have flexibility issues.

The turkish getup does something else better than any other exercise, it teaches you where that neutral plum line of your body is. The TGU will demand that you keep the weight as light as possible, this is the plum line that when standing is considered good posture. I think one of the most important aspects of weight lifting and calysthenics is to align your posture to neutral. To undo all of the various tightnesses and compensations people develop in their body from either a sedentary lifestyle or continuous activity like cycling, running, isolation exercises, or manual labor. These postural deviations, although they may seem minor, throughout the day are responsible for chronic joint and back pain and soft tissue problems like plantar fasciitis.

Practice the TGU to create strong, flexible, hips and shoulders which will allow you to perform all of your other lifts better. Through your practice, observe how it teaches your nervous system neutral posture and try to maintain that posture in your daily life. The TGU is all about unity and therefore it will also burn lots of calories and has direct carry over to everyday activities. Frequency is more important than intensity, you’re better off doing a few moderately heavy reps and saving some energy for later than trying to exhaust yourself with many reps all at once. Learn the TGU from a reliable source and never take shortcuts or use sloppy technique, be exact.

You can click here to watch the turkish get up broken down and explained step by step, the learning is up to you. Practice makes perfect, rushing the technique or not paying attention will probably get you hurt and will prevent you from developing your true potential.

Thank you for reading, have fun practicing and watching your strength improve big time!

Peter Hirsh