I think it’s fair to say the Turkish Get Up is one of my favorite things to do.
It’s also pretty fair to say there’s a lot of people who would agree with me that it is an incredibly valuable lift, for a number of reasons.
It’s also fair to say that a lot of people talk a lot of bollocks about the lift.
There are many ways to work the get up depending on the type of response you’re trying to elicit from the body.
And just the other day I had two very different lads in who have get ups programmed into their workouts but for very different reasons, and as a result, they do the lift differently.
The two lads are Don and Les. Don is a BJJ player, fairly new to the sport coming into it with very little of any sort of training. Much like most people who take up a martial art, it was his first real training experience.
Les on the other hand is a bit of a machine. He’s a hockey player (proper hockey, not that padded up ice dancing thing…) and loves to train hard.
The two lads both partake in sports that live in a forward flexed posture. The hockey player is hunched over with his stick on the floor to control the ball. The BJJ guy, especially the new guys, are usually on their backs in a foetal position trying not let the better guy fold them in half.
Don realised early on that he needed to get some serious core strength going, so he came to me. At first he couldn’t hold a plank steady for 30seconds.
With some “gentle persuasion” he accepted my homework assignment and couple of weeks later he passed a 2min plank test.
But he despises the plank, and to be fair, 2mins is plenty,.at least that’s what Dr Stuart McGill says and who am I to argue.
So what next? Various exercises, all very core centric with an emphasis on developing the get up.
Some days he worked volume with a comfortable weight, other days he’s pyramid up to a max.
Just the other day a 75kg Don did this with a 40kg bell
In total he worked up to the weight before managing 3 reps each side. It was only the second time he’d worked the 40.
Interestingly, a shoulder injury he picked up from an overzealous submission attempt has magically cleared up.
He first noticed his shoulder had cleared up, ie no longer clicked or ached when he started working with the 32kg bell regularly.
Which brings me to Les.
As I said, Les is a different animal. Les is completely anterior chain dominant, he lives in his sporting posture, forward flexed, internally rotated shoulders. Much of what I talked about in Fighting Back direct applies to Les.
It’s no surprise his shoulder blew up and he ended up in physio before coming to me.
Now we have him doing a bottoms up half get up every warm up.
In the beginning he could barely hold the weight out. A strong lad being crushed by an 8kg bell shows a huge problem.
So Les worked the movement with no weight, than slowly added load in the standard grip until eventually he could manage a single bottoms up rep.
This clip shows him performing the drill on his injured side
Remember this is him simply warming up. His training is very much about getting that posterior chain kicking in, but before anything happens we use this drill to turn on the rotator cuff and integrate the shoulder into the rest of the body.
Already in just a few weeks Les’ symptoms are reducing and he’s able to take on more movements.
So we have one exercise, the Get Up, being utilised in two very different manners according to individual athletes needs.
There is no one best way to perform any given exercise, especially something as global as the get up.
The mainstream kettlebell community may deride Don for not bridging up during the get up, but his hips are not our focus. We do other work for that.
They may also be baying for blood because Les doesn’t roll enough, not realising that to get to where he is now is an achievement in itself and a constant work in progress.
The key point here is that we can take an exercise and break it down, tailoring it to suit the athlete. We don’t try to make the athlete suit the movement, we.make the movement suit the athlete.
Spend time with the get up, get to know it intimately, and while a half bodyweight get up is the standard we want to achieve, for many, like Les, it’s not realistic.