The Turkish Get-Up is one of the best “bang for your buck” movements I use when I’m in a crunch for time at the gym. It’s one of the best exercises to build total-body strength and improve movement control. The execution is quite tricky, but mastering it is well worth it.
The movement is packed with movement nutrition. You get a healthy dose of balance, shoulder strength, straight and bent arm strength, core work, leg strength and flexibility—and honestly, the list could go on. Importantly, the exercise requires intense focus, especially when transitioning from one movement to the next. By the end of this exercise, you will be drenched while your fat will be shredding serious tears and getting burned.
Perform the Turkish Get-Up either at the beginning or end of your workout. At the beginning, use your body weight or very light resistance. It’s a simple movement strategy to ensure that all your joints are oiled up and ready for action. At the end of a workout, when your body is almost fully taxed, it’s a great time to challenge your core for short periods of time (8-15 seconds per rep) to prevent energy leaks, leading to better adaptations and movement transfer. Most athletes can hold a Plank for a few minutes at the beginning of a training session, but the end tells the real story, in my opinion.
Watch the video above to learn how to perform the Turkish Get-Up.
What if you just want to lift heavier? A simple solution is close your eyes while you go through the Turkish Get-Up holding a shoe, while a partner guides, spots and manually challenges your shoulders with perturbations (small, random movements). If you think you are strong, this will humble you.
When you close your eyes, you turn off one sense (sight), forcing your other senses to work harder. The ability to touch, feel and know where your arms and legs are depends on more factors—e.g., your core muscles fire to keep you balanced. You can imagine how this might be a good tool to use on an athlete who thinks he’s a big shot, doesn’t listen, and is one rep away from blowing a disc or throwing out his arm due to improper form stemming from a lack of awareness. Closing the eyes slows things down and assists in grooving movement patterns through multiple avenues such as promoting visualization and challenging proprioception.
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This approach can be useful for strength coaches, giving them alternative methods to challenge their athletes beyond increasing resistance. As a former competitive athlete, current daily warrior and movement enthusiast, I’m always seeking growth, and am currently a student of “awareness.” It’s easy for others to tell us what we need to work on; however, once we have felt and experienced a heightened sense of awareness as students, we can make informed conscious decisions to move ourselves forward in a positive direction.
NOTE: The Turkish Get-Up is NOT a beginner exercise. It is a tool that should be used with discretion by athletes who have proficient baseline movement patterns, coordination and strength.