5 reasons to LOVE the Turkish Get Up

If it's good enough for Iron Man.....

If it’s good enough for Iron Man…..

The Turkish Get gets a lot of love.

There are those around who harp on at it ad nauseum. They’ll tell you all sorts of hyped up hyperbole leading you to believe that if you were only allowed to do one exercise, it’d be the Get Up.

Well, they’re not far wrong.

It won’t cure you of all your dysfunctions.

It won’t make you indestructible.

It won’t cure cancer.

But here’s a few things about the Turkish Get Up that I absolutely love:

1: It rewards patience.

You simply cannot explode though a get up. You can’t use sheer force. You have to be smooth, controlled and take the time to stabilise at each transition point.
In other words, a heavy get up will teach you to slow down. That doesn’t mean you move slowly, but you find the right speed to get the job done.

2: It’s great for the shoulder.

From time to time my dodgy shoulder flares up and the Get Up becomes my only way to train the upper body. As you roll and stand in the movement, your arm is taken from straight out in front of the body, to the side and then to overhead. All the while the shoulder is loaded, but not really moving, unlike a pressing action.
This forces the rotator cuff muscles to work reactively in order to keep the shoulder stable and the weight locked out.

3: It involves a dead-start lunge.

On the way up, especially with a significant weight, once you get to the half kneeling position with the bell overhead, you will discover that getting from there to standing is a bit tricky.
This is because we have to lunge, but not just any lunge. We have to start from scratch, no lowering portion to pre-stretch the muscle, we have to create all the tension ourselves. Much akin to the most lauded of all strength lifts, the deadlift. The deadlift is so awesome because it comes from a dead start.
A dead start lunge is a rarely trained beast, yet look at real life. How often are you on the floor resting on one knee and have to get up? Well if you any sort of contact sport, I bet it’s a hell of a lot.

4: It’s a lesson in proprioception.

Proprioception is the body’s ability to judge where it is in space. It’s listening to the feedback from the nerve endings, the muscle spindles and the Golgi Tendon Organs, all the little sensory jobbies that feed us information.
We are visual creatures, but our senses go much further. The Get Up is one tool for helping us tune into those other senses. If we load up (I’m not a fan of going light on the get up) then we must focus on stabilising that weight over head as we move from a prone position to a standing position. This means using our other three limbs to shift our body around underneath that weight.
And we can’t look down, or we’ll drop it!

5: Getting strong on the Get Up improves most other things.

It’s true, the get up will improve every other lift to a point. The added core and shoulder stability, the increased body awareness and the ability to brace reactively as you move are all skills that cross over to the rest of the world.
That doesn’t mean you can drop everything and just do get ups, but it does mean that spending time developing the get up, especially in the off season, is a pretty good idea. It goes both ways too, has your training program made you stronger and more athletic? Test your get up, it’s a decent litmus test.

So there are 5 reasons I love the Turkish Get Up.

Now grab a weight and get on it, if you can’t manage a single rep in each hand with half your bodyweight, then start practicing!

If you’re new to the lift, the Level 2 Kettlebell Manual goes into detail on the lift with around 30 photo’s taking you through it step by step.
You can get it here:

Level 2 Kettlebell manual, builds on level 1 with more on the Swing, introducing the Clean, Push Press and the Turkish Get Up. Click the here for more info

Turkish get Up and a lot more besides.
Click the Image for more info

Just don’t rush into attempting Jeff Martone’s party trick:



A Summer of Kettlebell Lifting

2012 is looking like the year of the Irish Kettlebell.

Just look at whats going on:

25th March:
Kettlebell Lifting and Conditioning Training for Sports
I’ll be at Dolan Fitness, Tullamore to present a workshop looking at the use of Kettlebells and other “non conventional” methods to build an unstoppable athlete. This is particularly relevant to the Combat Athlete but anyone involved in sports will benefit.
This is a steal at €20 for around three hours. All I ask is you come armed with an open mind and lots of questions.
To book contact Kieran through info@dolanfitness.com

15th April:
Kettlebell Lifting Levels 3 & 4

Kettlebell Lifting

You’ve been asking so here it is, the Levels 3 & 4 from my kettlebell lifting syllabus.
Level 3 covers the Snatch and Jerk in minute detail, Level 4 covers Double Kettlebell Lifting including the Long Cycle event.
If you plan on taking part in this years competitions, these workshops represent your opportunity to brush up on technique.
If you are simply a kettlebell enthusiast looking to take your training to the next level, then you’ll enjoy these workshops.
The key to all my Kettlebell workshops is attention to detail, we don’t cover many techniques but we go deep into each lift that we look at. And you get all the info emailed to you in a PDF reference manual at the end of the day.
Workshops cost €35 each or €60 for both.
Level 3 runs 10am-12pm, Level 4 runs 12.15pm – 2(ish)pm
Bring an enquiring mind!

20th May:
AIKLF Cup of Ireland – Open Kettlebell Competition
Mick Kelly and his guys in Wexford are holding both the Biathlon and Long Cycle events under Vasilly Ginko’s AIKLF, one of the first organisations to introduce kettlebell sport to Ireland back in 2007/8.
Mick is a great athlete and a gentleman so this’ll be a great event.
For details and to register CLICK HERE

2nd – 4th June:
Certified Kettlebell Teacher Levels 1 & 2 with Steve Cotter
Steve Cotter Dublin 2012If you’re into Kettlebells or even if you just follow this website, you’ll be well aware of who Steve Cotter is. He’s one of the men who created the original RKC course, he’s become one of the worlds most in demand kettlebell coaches, he’s the man who goes to all the world’s real experts to learn so you don’t have to.
There is no other certification course like this. Even the last certification course we held here in 2009 won’t be as good as this next one. Why?
Because I’ve had Steve here each year since then and each time he has updated information. To train with Steve is to be at the cutting edge, not just in lifting Kettlebells but also in a wider, more holistic methods of fitness training.
Here’s a teaser of a few things you will see:

For booking details CLICK HERE for Level 1 and HERE for Level 2

25th August:
Irish Kettlebell Sports Championships
The boys from Kilkenny are running their annual event, but this time it promises to be bigger and better than ever before.
The lads are without a doubt the top lifters in Ireland, Eddie was recently declared the absolute winner in the UK open. They represent the European Girevoy Sport Association (EGSA) with is fast becoming Europe’s largest Kettlebell Sport organisation.
If you register for this event you’ll be lifting alongside some top class lifters from Europe as well as our homegrown athletes.
More details will be announced HERE soon
The Kilkenny boys also run regular workshops, if you’re around the neighbourhood be sure to drop in.

15 -16 September:
Mike Mahler Kettlebell  Seminars
Mark Bunce from D8 Fitness is bringing over Mike Mahler for two days of Kettlebell Lifting.
I’ve been a follower of Mikes work for the best part of 10 years and I have to say, he is excellent. If you want to build size and strength and the Kettlebell is your weapon of choice, this is the workshop to attend. Mike has a unique standpoint on the use of Kettlebells in training and also on how to balance the bodies’ hormones for a fuller life.
CLICK HERE for details.

It’s great to see real instruction of the use of the kettlebell and also the growth of the sport here in Ireland. Anyone who attends any of the above events will receive a level of instruction unrivalled by any of the “commercial” kettlebell courses and certification currently available in Ireland and even the UK.
Make sure to click through some of the links above, but above else, get swinging!



Breathing and Feedback from Sunday’s Level 1 Kettlebell Workshop

Last Sunday I ran the Level 1 Kettlebell Workshop which was attended by 10 eager participants. 2 of whom were regular members of my classes, the rest I’d never met.

I have to say the group were great, they listened, watched and applied. When given the opportunity they asked some very smart questions, including one that I couldn’t give a proper answer to!
Don asked what the advantage is to breathing through the nose. Puzzled, I asked why he was asking to which he replied, “Well, you always do.”
I grabbed my kettle and yes, he’s right I often inhale through the nose. Is this any advantage? I’ve no idea. Why do I do it? Probably from other training when I studied Tai Chi, Chi Gung and other martial meditations.
On the Level 1 I allow students to choose their own breathing style, either Anatomical or Paradox.

Paradox breathing is the most common. It is the most commonly used breathing style in any gym, as you elevate the weight, you exhale. As you lower, you inhale. in kettlebell terms, this means you exhale at the top and inhale as the bell swings back through the legs.

Anatomical breathing is where you breath with the natural rhythm of the body, as it straightens and the chest opens, you inhale, as the body compresses you exhale. In kettlebell terms it means you inhale at the top of the swing and exhale as the bell swings back through the legs.

Which is right and which is wrong? Neither, you will use the method that best suits your personality type and training style.
I will tell you that for extended sets of swings, sets with high or very high reps over several minutes, you will want to use the anatomical method. But for sprints or experimenting with very heavy bells, I’d go with paradox.
At this level, it is up to the participant to experiment and find their own way. Come level 3, we steer you towards anatomical for the classical lifts of Snatch and Jerk.

So back to the weekend just gone, here’s what a few of the guys had to say……..


Hi Dave,

Thanks again for the workshop. It was the same as the local kettlebell classes I’m going to except this time I ACTUALLY did (or at least attempted to do) proper squats, swings and presses, I ACTUALLY understood what to do and how and I DIDN’T hurt myself trying to copy somebody who was doing it wrong ;)
I loved the way you pointed out the common issues in doing squats, swing and presses and the little drills to improve them. Having a trainer with such a vast knowledge and experience really makes all the difference. And my muscles can feel it (but no back pain this time) :)

Can’t wait for Level 2 workshop!



Had a great time today,was probably the most well spent €35 in ages.The main thing I noticed was that a 20kg was easier to lift wit ur tips,than my 16 kg was last time I checked!

Lookin forward to puttin in the time at home,and for the next workshop.




Many thanks for the course which was really interesting and good craic.

I look forward to using the level one book when my new kettlebell gets delivered and giving it a whirl!

All the best,



Dave can i just say that the course was amazing .It was nice to get back to basics again . Class flowed even though we were quiet at times . Felt energised after it too . Defo will sign up for the whole course and all else that you bring on board . Am away this sat camping but will drop by first one in sept to do the kettlebell class . Was talking to that girl Mia and she loved it too .Keep inspiring as the way you teach is way i like to teach also .And it was amazing to learn again from someone that is dedicated to proper technique Regards Shay


I’ll be announcing the next workshops soon, I seem to have every weekend tied up right now with christenings, birthdays and family visits, but keep an eye out on the sidebar to the right and of course the Facebook page.



Irish Kettlebell Sports Championships – 23/7/11

Last weekend saw the third Irish Kettlebell Sports Championships, once again run by the lads at the Kilkenny Kettlebell Club and the EGSA.

The event was fantastic, the lads really have got the running of a competition down. There were in the region of 30 men and 20 or so women competing in the Biathlon event, which is Jerks followed by Snatch. Many of the competitors had experience but there were still a good number of new faces, which is great to see.

From here I had two lads with me competing and one who was forced to sit out due to a recent injury. The two lads were Mark Kennedy and Graham Bird.
This was Graham’s first competition, he trains in my regular lunchtime fitness sessions and competes in triathlon, but fancied a crack at this. Over the last 10 weeks he has had to learn the Jerk, improve his technique on both Jerk and Snatch as well as begin specific training for the Kettlebell Sport. And he did us proud.
In true Wild Geese spirit he decided to skip the light weights and entered with 20kg kettlebells, which meant he was lifting heavier than the majority of lads there, he scored 46 jerks and 90 snatch, which a good score for anybody first time, especially with 20’s. His snatch set finished with an impressive ending, the bell slipped from his hand on the upswing and very nearly took out his judge!

Mark has a little more experience, he joined me from another gym recently as he felt he wasn’t getting the training he needed. The Kilkenny lads had provided him with a program, but he needed a coach to keep an eye on him and tweak his technique. On the day he put up 100 jerks and an impressive 214 snatch with 16kg bells. It really was a gutsy performance, well done mate.

As for myself, well I entered with the 28kg bells for no reason other than I used 24’s the last time out. My training has been far from consistent and for a while I considered pulling out, but I’m bloody glad I didn’t.
With a little help from Steve Cotter in regards to technique and breathing, I managed 40 jerk and 100 snatch, earning a third place overall place.

Here’s my Jerk Set:

And my Snatch set:

Once again, I want to say thanks to Mark and Eddie (more on them here)for organising and running the event and huge congratulations to every single person that stepped onto a platform, regardless of the weight you lifted or the reps scored, you all put on an incredible performance, Kettlebell Sport is one of the most demanding things you can try your hand at, and seeing the spirit with which you all attacked your sets is inspiring.



The Day Before Tomorrow

Sounds like the title of a James Bond movie….

But what I’m getting at here is that tomorrow is the third Irish Kettlebell Sports competition, once again hosted by the boys in Kilkenny. I’m entered and am resting up today, drinking plenty of water and getting the carbs in ready for my first ever go at a competition set with the 28kg bells.

It’s gonna hurt.

But that’s what we have to do in order to find out what we’re about, to answer the question that always sits in the back of mind, the one that always rises up before an event like this, the question of “Am I good enough?”

There’s only one way to answer it, and that’s to get out there and do it.

Our Wild Geese Muay Thai coach and fellow kettlebell enthusiast Dave “The Rasta” Gordon said to me one time after I’d hurt my shoulder setting a personal best on the handstand push up that “Glory is fleeting, but mediocrity lasts forever”

So tomorrow I intend to give it my all. I’ve spent my quite time visualising the day, I’ve been cycling home from the gym playing my set over and over in my head. All that is left to do is sweat, grunt and lift, 1 rep at a time until either I’m told to stop or I’m forced to stop.

Then next week I can take a back off week, a rest from the kettles and from hard training, I can let the body rest and recover. I’ll allow my niggling injuries repair themselves. I’ll catch up on some sleep and I’ll even have a beer or two.
I’ll then spend some time working on a few personal goals, things like mastering the standing ab wheel roll out, taking my Pistol Squat into double figures, improving general flexibility and getting back out running.

But not until after tomorrow.

While we’re mentioning running, this article got flagged up recently:


Scientists have discovered that strong hips help protect runners knees. We’ll stone me!
Of course they do, running is about hip extension, actually hip HYPERextension which is produced by the Glutes and Hamstrings. The vast majority of the amateur running and jogging population are vastly quad dominant and since the quads are knee extensors they tend to power themselves along with their knees rather than their hips. Any wonder the knees get destroyed?
I’ve a string of clients in this last few months all of whom have knee issues, some have hamstring pain. Every one of them has made massive progress by doing two things:

  1. Strengthening the hip
  2. Lengthening the Quads and Hip Flexors

Strength is built by a number of exercises, Kettlebell Swings, Deadlifts, Glute Bridges & Hip Thrusts  and the Box Squat.
Flexibility / Mobility is developed by firstly getting the Glutes firing properly with the strength training and then using the Hip Flexor stretch and Quad Stretch shown here:


Thats all for today, I’ll see you after tomorrow!


Steve Cotter and the Art of Kettlebell lifting.

In the side bar to the right you’ll see a new box marked Join my free mailing list, it sounds bit cheesy but it’s there for a reason.
If you click it, you’ll be added to a mailing list which I will send out updates no more than once per week. The updates will have any new posts that go up here, plus other new info that won’t be on this site, cool stuff that will be kept exclusive to the mailing list.
It’s something that was suggested to me a long time ago, I just never bothered, but as it’s coming into the christmas season and I’m heading away for a couple of weeks it gives me a great opportunity to still help you with your training.
Over the time that I’m away I will be sending out No Equipment bodyweight workouts and kettlebell hybrid workouts, with video clips that you can do at home. These workouts will be sent exclusively to the email list.
Oh, for those that sign up, you’ll be given download instructions to a couple of cool PDF’s, so my web dude says….

Anyhow, enough of the BS. The following article is a report on Steve Cotter’s recent visit and was originally sent out on the Wild Geese Martial Arts monthly newsletter, I’ve reprinted it here for any of you who don’t receive it.

Steve Cotter and the Art of Kettlebell lifting.
Steve Cotter was back for his second visit to Ireland, we at Wild Geese are extremely proud and fortunate to have been able to host him on both occasions.

For many years I’ve been an admirer of Steve and his work, even before I bought my first Kettlebell I’d watch his video footage and read his articles. Having the opportunity many years later to have him at my own centre is a great experience, and one that I’m happy to have shared with several other enthusiasts and coaches from around Ireland.

One of the standout features of a Steve Cotter workshop is his willingness to share information and join in with discussion. As he said on the day, we can talk a lot when working with Kettlebells because it only takes a few minutes to destroy you with them, consider this a recovery, and we’ll do the work in a moment….
One of the course participants is the ever vocal Kieran Dolan, owner of Dolan Fitness in Tullamore, Co Offaly. Kieran’s main sport is power lifting, but recently he’s been attending my Kettlebell workshops as he is always on the lookout for new information to improve himself and the already excellent training at his gym.
Kieran came to the Steve Cotter workshop armed with questions, and Steve was more than happy to oblige.

When asked about the difference between the “Hard Style” method of Kettlebell lifting and the more fluid style that Steve has learned from Russian coaches and genuine Master of Sports, Steve gave a great explanation. I’m recalling this from memory so the following are not Steve’s words, but the point is the same.

Steve told how tests of strength are as old as the human race itself. Either men would gather and see who could lift the heaviest rock (we’re predating any purpose built gyms here), or they’d gather around a designated “test” rock and see who could lift it the most. The man who lifted the biggest (either total weight or reps) would become the chief and bag a bride.
Fast forward to a more modern era and the strength competitions continue. In Northern Europe, the biggest men lifted the biggest rock, whereas in eastern Europe they favoured the repetition method. So as lifting equipment became more available, these preferences drifted into organised weight lifting competitions. The barbell became the iconic symbol of maximal strength with its ability to be loaded and adjusted to each individual’s ability, but in the east, they preferred to see who could manage a fixed weight the best. The ability to lift a 32kg Kettlebell for multiple reps shows a greater depth of character and ability than a single maximal lift.
A more rounded athlete, one with the mental fortitude to lift well beyond physical fatigue, is probably going to make a stronger leader.

Hence the birth of Kettlebell sport, the discipline of lifting the maximum number of repetitions within a 10 minute time limit. The lifts used are the Clean & Jerk, Jerk and 1 arm Snatch (with only a single hand change). As Kettlebells came west they have been used for a huge variety of other lifts, but the competition and the beauty of the Kettlebell still lies in mastery of the Clean, Jerk and Snatch. These three lifts are the equivalent of the Power lifting trio of Squat, Bench and Deadlift.

Steve went onto explain that if you’re sole interest is maximal strength, the Kettlebell is an inferior choice to a barbell. However athletes that train for the three Kettlebell lifts have been shown to exhibit a good ability in other feats of strength and athleticism even though they don’t train these events. “Hard Style” advocates call this the “What the hell” effect. And it’s exactly what Paul is eluding to in his article above and something myself and many of my regulars are all familiar with.
And while the “Hard Style” marketing does talk highly of this cross training effect, all the research and study on the worth of kettlebell lifting has come from the athletes that specialise in the three competition lifts.

The conversation did seem to satisfy the gathered audience, and if anyone was left doubting Steve simply said, “please don’t take my word as law, go out an experiment, find out your own path” or words to that effect.

He then spent the next ten minutes making us wish we’d never been born…….

Checking the guys facebook updates over the last few days showed that Steve had proved his point perfectly, everyone was suffering, happy in the knowledge that they’d worked body and mind, learning from one of the best in the business.

Of course, we did more than just Kettlebell lifting over the 6 hour workshop, we also looked at warming up, mobility and flexibility, but the conversation that Kieran instigated proved to be the high point of the day for me.

The good news here is that Steve has a soft spot for Ireland (his grandfather is from around Cork) so wants to come back, we’ll have a date set up for the summer of 2011, keep an eye on the blogs and this newsletter for further updates.