The Turkish Get Up is a little known weapon to those who are insanely strong, balanced and mobile.
Since implementing into my own training schedules, I have noticed incredible increases in shoulder stability and strength, core stability and strength through multiple planes of movement, along with a nice boost in joint mobility at the hip, shoulder and thoracic spine regions.
To be honest, it’s extremely hard for an exercise to crack my workout line-up. In other words, I am very selective about adding new training methods since I have seen such tremendous results with my mainstay movements.
However, in the same breath, I have to say that the turkish get up has been one of the greatest additions to my training habits to date. The amount of insight that I gained about my own movement quality was unprecedented, and humbling at times.
I ‘bulletproofed’ my body the day that I dedicated myself to learning the turkish get up, and by learning, I am talking about reading articles and watching YouTube videos until I was blue in the face.
You can learn any exercise correctly if you know where to look on the internet. If you’re a visual learner, check out the videos on YouTube, some are extremely high quality and in depth.
I cannot say enough about the drastic impact turkish get ups had on my performance and quite frankly, my physique. Spending that amount of time under tension does wonders for firming up a person’s body. I can’t deny that I haven’t enjoyed seeing the tweaks in transformation.
The traditional turkish get up is a phenomenal exercise, and probably needs no further adjustments or additions, but for the curious mind (which I have) and those who enjoy exploring (which I do), adding in slight tweaks to the turkish get up can make what some feel is a “bland” exercise extremely interesting, not to mention fun.
Of course, everyone should hone in on the basics of executing a regular turkish get up before moving any further in the progression, it just makes senses to progress with common sense.
The idea of pressing during the turkish get up was simple…
I perform a press at certain check points that allow for it.
Press #1: Horizontal chest press in the starting prone position.
Press #2: Overhead vertical press at the tall kneeling position.
Press #3: Overhead vertical press at the standing position.
Press #4: Explosive push press at the standing position.
If you stop and think about it, you’re pressing the kettlebell (or dumbbell) four different times for each individual rep of the turkish get up.
That’s a lot of work.
*** Keep in mind that the chest press performed in the lying position might will not feel like a normal bench press because: 1) You’re pressing an odd object (kettlebell), 2) Your range of motion is limited (elbow contacts ground surface) 3) Your body position is altered from a more traditional bench press.
All of these things are ok, so relax about it. “Real world training” says that you won’t always be pressing a shiny dumbbell on a padded bench. Though he was referring to sandbags, I believe I heard Alwyn Cosgrove call repetitions like these “alive reps”. Nice terminology, I can roll with that.
If you perform 5 reps of get ups on each side of the body, you’re looking at 20 reps per side (40 total) right and left. If you go higher reps, which I typically like doing since my turkish get up practice usually involves nothing more than get ups and some kettlebell swings afterward for conditioning purposes, you might be looking at a pressing volume of 40+ reps on each side of the body.
Consider that the pressing is uni-lateral (pressing with one arm while the other remains unloaded) and you can bet that your mid-section is getting as much of a workout as your upper and lower extremities are.
Poke your tummy the next time you press a decently heavier weight on one side only, it will be activated.
“Six-pack training” anyone?
I considered pressing at the same check points on the way back down to the start position, but felt like this would be slight overkill. Who knows, maybe down the road. That would have increased my pressing volume to 40 reps per side for every 5 reps of turkish get ups, and 80 per side had I completely 10 turkish get ups.
This is where I use my logic. For my goals, that amount of pressing will take away from my main goal, which is to work the turkish get up, not improve my pressing strength and abilities. So, I avoided this volume to keep the workout more TGU-centered.
Post-workout, the first observation I had was the fatigue component experienced from all of the added pressing.
The shoulder burn wasn’t nearly as bad as it was from the “5 minute no rest turkish get ups” that I adopted from Jon Hinds (owner of Monkey Bar Gym), but it was right up there. I am humbled what a simple activity like holding a weight (and a relatively light one at that) overhead can do to fry your shoulder musculature.
For me personally, it was a completely manageable fatigue (which is perfect) that provided an added challenge to the main movement.
A rarely discussed topic with turkish get ups is the amount of cognitive support needed to execute such a segmented exercise. There is a lot happening on the way up to the standing position, and then on the reversal moving back down to the starting position.
Holding the weight overhead is one thing. Holding the weight overhead while twisting and turning underneath that weight in an effort to rise up to the standing position from a dead stop laying position is another. Don’t
The first few times I gave a good effort to turkish get ups- treating them like practice versus a workout- my brain was fried. My eyes felt tired.
The brain has to be engaged in order to make turkish get ups work, and this is another HUGE benefit of the drill. Turkish get ups are a technique driven drill sequence. I respect those who preach this, because I feel that focusing on technique and the subtle details is how you extract the most physical and mental benefit from the movement.
The mind-body connection during get ups is of tremendous benefit for the exercisee.
I feel smarter after get ups, no lie. More detailed, more creative, stronger 3-dimensionally.
If you’re looking for a challenge, try adding some presses into your turkish get up practice. But keep it exactly that, practice. Be mindful of your abilities, yet don’t be afraid to walk to the fringe to challenge your mind and body.
And as I mentioned earlier in the post, if you have never practiced turkish get ups, your main job is to learn the steps first before adding pressing. You have to crawl before you walk.
Cheers to adding pressing to your turkish get ups,
(pictures to come…)