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Stronger & Better Turkish Get-ups

ultimate sandbag


Ara Keshishian, DVRT Master, (Follow on Instagram HERE)

If there is a drill that really gets looks in the gym it is the kettlebell Turkish Get-Up (TGU). Most people look at the exercise and can’t figure out what muscles it works? I get it, most people in the gym are still thinking from a bodybuilding mentality and that is understandable. Even the “functional training” coach is often referring to a muscle or two when it comes to building value in an exercise. So, what does one do with a drill like the TGU?

First and foremost, we have to say what the kettlebell get-up is NOT! It is NOT a sit-up, it is closer to a rolling pattern. While I realize that the history of the exercise didn’t give it such a distinction, when renowned physical therapist, Gray Cook, saw this movement he helped give it so much more power!

turkish get-up

While you can see the description from John Jesse’s 1974 book about the Turkish get-up (which was just called the get-up) doesn’t have a lot of instructions we do see more of a roll than a sit-up. Why does that matter? As Dr. Perry Nickelston writes…

“Movement dysfunction is typically a problem with timing and stabilization, rather than a deficiency in strength of prime global movers. It stands to reason that we should address muscle timing and activation. Rolling patterns can function as a basic assessment in a client’s ability to shift weight, cross midline, and coordinate movements of the extremities and the core.

Abnormalities of the rolling patterns frequently expose proximal to distal and distal to proximal sequencing errors, or proprioceptive inefficiency that may present during general motor tasks. Many adults have lost the ability to capture the power or utilize the innate relationship of the head, neck, and shoulders to positively affect coordinated movements.”

That means the getup is a core exercise not because you are doing a sit-up motion, but you are targeting a system of muscles that needs to work in great combination and specific patterns to give us great stability. The get-up is a complex and multi-planar exercise that begins in a supine  position and eventually progresses toward an upright standing position. If we are holding a weight like a kettlebell over the head and then the movement returns to the original position through the reversal of stages that he/she started we have a very powerful, multi-pattern, and intricate exercise in the TGU.

There are many ways to improve the quality of your Turkish get-ups through our DVRT system. Taking away the mental and physical stress of holding a weight overhead and learning how to build more strength in the lateral system of our body with DVRT leg threading can really accelerate our learning of the kettlebell get-up. 

Functional Training is usually included in training regimens to prevent injury and improve performance. The TGU has a protocol in developing hip and shoulder stability, flexibility, and strength in the core, hip, and knee musculature. We get such a huge “bang for our buck” from exercises like get-ups, most of all teaching the body to work as one unit instead of a bunch of parts. However, for such a great exercise, many coaches struggle in coaching others to success and run into many common issues.

From the several steps involved in the Turkish get-up, the most challenging part can be when you are on your back with the load over your body. Since sit-ups and crunches are engrained to so many people, trying  to initiate your TGU with sitting up INSTEAD of rolling and this is where many get “stuck”. I see many people fail at this step because either they didn’t practice the rolling on elbow part or the are lacking core strength on their frontal plane. 

The good news is that there is a solution for this by using DVRT Ultimate Sandbag. To target the right muscle group for the specific movement, you need to use the proper exercise with the right tools. 

DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Half Kneeling Half Arc Press with Core Strap and Resistance Band is what you need to build core stability not only for your TGU but even for your lunges as well or any exercise that you need balance. We help people learn how to use their feet more efficiently, we teach how to create stability of the shoulder through connecting our lower body and core to our upper body. This DVRT drill helps us learn how to connect and build the qualities that will help us translate to more complex exercises like the Turkish get-up. 

Here what you need to do: Attached your resistance band to an anchor then attach the other end to core strap where the other side of the core strap where it’s already been connected to snatch handles of the sandbag from the get in a half-kneeling position where your kneeling leg is away from the anchor. Now while you’re creating tension by pulling the bag apart, try to press the Ultimate Sandbag right on the top of your crown without moving your head, hip, and your body. 

Do you feel it? Do you feel how your core is active, so you’re not falling? That’s what you need to work on to get a better outcome from TGU. This is where different exercises and tools will make your other exercise with a different tool effective and productive.

Find out how we coach the RIGHT exercise and tool to make you successful in our L.I.F.T. certification. An incredible program that takes the guess work out of your training. Now, you can get the entire program or individual modules for 30% off with code “fall” for only a few more days HERE