How to Improve Your Turkish Get Up in 5 Seconds

Fitness comes in waves, and there has been a definitive wave in my awareness this week.  Everywhere I look, I’m seeing someone absolutely nailing an exercise known as the Turkish Get Up.  Here’s Geoff Hemingway demonstrating the movement:

Geoff and I spent some time chatting about the Turkish Get Up earlier today, and he said the following:

They’re amazing for you! Nothing promotes strength, stability, as well as mobility like the Get Up. Loaded or unloaded, it’s a million dollar move.

Let’s ask the question: “If you could only program a single exercise for the rest of time, what would it be?” It could very well be the Turkish Get Up.  As Geoff noted, it requires a combination of mobility and stability that demonstrate control over our body, and the weight being lifted overhead.  Let’s focus on that very important word: Control.

As with all strength training exercises, there’s a sex factor to the Turkish Get Up.  If we’re performing it well with less load, it’s easy to push towards doing it with more load.  Sometimes, more load doesn’t translate to doing it as well.  That’s when things can get a little bit shaky.


If you’re practicing your TGU, and want to know if you should increase the weight or not, Geoff offers a simple strategy for making that decision:

If you can pause for 5 seconds at each stage of the TGU, then you’re likely able to progress to a heavier weight.  That 5 count can help you reinforce the smooth movement that’s so alluring about the Get Up, and it can also expose a lack of control that will help keep you working with weights that are appropriate.

Using a pause to hold yourself accountable to control helps create solid training habits, and can keep you safer while you practice your Get Up.  For example, last week I spotted a 40kg TGU from Ninja badass Michael Sterling.  It was beautifully executed, but I wanted to make sure Michael was safe the whole time.  Those get-ups were a demonstration of months and years of consistent training.  It was amazing.


To contrast Geoff’s beautiful get-up demonstration, let’s check out this video from our friends at MBSC. You can tell that this is hard work and effort to get this get-up done. Here is a PR get-up from one of their athletes.

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This is a prime example of what dedication, hard work and consistency can lead to. @edecaprio putting up a 36kg #turkishgetup as we get close to the end of summer. It's not the most beautiful TGU in the world, but she wanted to see how heavy she could get, how strong she can be. I've had the pleasure of working with her for the last 6 years. She trained hard and consistently through 4 years of high school and is now entering her junior year at Colgate where she plays ice hockey. It's a bittersweet time as athletes I work with near the end of their college career. It's also an important and emotional time to reflect on the years of hard work, sweat and maybe try to reach some new goals. Can't wait to see what she does on the ice this year. * @not_mark_sanchez * #movementasmedicine

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That’s pretty rad, isn’t it?  The get-up is a great move, and an impressive display of strength, grace, and control.  Remember, not every training session is about jumping up to the next ‘bell as fast as you can. To progress from one kettlebell to the next, honor Geoff’s 5 second hold rule, and nail your get-ups, team!

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