The Turkish Get Up

Any strength den off the beaten path knows about this move. Gyms that subscribe to strength and performance first, where Kettlebells and bumper plates are ubiquitous but searching for a machine of any sort would prove fruitless. Where iron trumps fluff and the ‘smoothie bar’ is a water cooler hiding in the corner, these gyms know about the Turkish Get Up.

It was staple amongst the Physical Culture in counties a bit more to the East of ours, particularly amongst wrestlers and hand balancers about a century ago. But it proved to be hard work, and so, like a collection of great lifts that lost popularity, they all but disappeared in the commercial fitness market because they’re hard to sell.

“Well what body part does it work?”

Pick one.. It’s in there. Not only is this an extremely effective spine exercise, but it is particularly impressive for posture and shoulder rehab, not to mention those legs that play a big role.

So, how does one get up?

The Turkish Getup turns what looks like a simple task into a fun challenge. It is a deceptively difficult lift that keeps us young. The inner 7-year-old in all of us has to get involved. Don’t think, just do. Just grab a weight, lie down, and get up. Everyone has individual techniques on this one, and that is fine.

Important Notes:

  • Any tool will do (we’ve used everything from buckets of rocks to small children, and I’m not kidding)
  • Start light, get used to it and then have some fun.

The Classic Turkish Get Up

  1. Start from the ground with the weight straight out in front of you. Keep looking up at the weight throughout the exercise.
  2. With the leg on the same side as the weight, drive up onto the opposite hip (yep, you can use your free arm to help out)
  3. Tuck the opposite foot under the hips (notice the twist of the trunk, not unlike a windmill. This is important, or the weight will fall forward)
  4. Come up onto the opposite knee
  5. Stand up
  6. Reverse on the way down, still looking up at the weight (you know where the ground is, you don’t have to look at it).

Classic Turkish Get Up Visuals

The Squat Turkish Get Up

Squat Turkish Get Ups are easier for certain body types, particularly those who can naturally deep squat.

  1. Starts the same
  2. Drive straight up onto both feet, or drive onto the opposite hip and then get both feet under you.
  3. Stand
  4. Reverse

If the weight plummets forward, this version isn’t for you.  This is also a tough version for really heavy TGUs.  Good for reps, if you can do them, but for max effort Getups. Even the squatters might want to consider switching to the single leg version.

Speaking of Max Effort Get Ups, if you love a good Max Effort lift, the TGU has so many angle changes and position shifts that this might be the single hardest Max Effort lift there is.

The Squat Turkish Get Up Visuals


Video – The Turkish Get Up

Written by Chip Conrad

Discuss, comment or ask a question

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