Functional Training Institute

The Turkish Get-Up: Detailed Steps on How to Perform the Exercise

The Turkish Get-Up: Detailed Steps on How to Perform the Exercise

The Turkish Get-Up (TGU) is an incredibly beneficial exercise-when performed correctly. Traditionally the TGU is performed smoothly through 8 steps.

  1. Press
  2. Post on elbow
  3. Post on hand
  4. Bridge at the hips
  5. Bridge to one knee
  6. Turn knee so both knees 90 degrees
  7. Kneeling lunge
  8. Stand


A number of variations of this kettlebell workout exist, whether through instruction, regression, or just through varying degrees of flexibility and strength. The exercise can be performed without weight, or with a light resistance of any type in your hand, most commonly a dumbbell or kettlebell. In this instance, we will look at performing a TGU with a kettlebell in the right hand.

To commence the exercise, start with the bell on your right side, in line with your ribcage (this is optimal to reduce the risk of shoulder injury). Make sure you are holding the kettlebell with the palm of your hand by pushing your hand deeply through. This will ensure, that when you press the kettlebell towards the ceiling, the weight is distributed in line with the shoulder. Keep your wrist straight, and roll towards the kettlebell, and pull it in towards your stomach with both hands supporting the kettlebell, before rolling onto your back.

Common mistakes. Gripping the kettlebell with your fingers

Ideally, lie on your back with your left leg splayed out and the right foot on the ground with the right knee bent. Breathing out with the lips slightly parted, press the kettlebell vertically away from the shoulder, keeping your wrist straight (neutral), and squeezing the handle of the kettlebell firmly as you straighten your arm. At this point ensure your shoulder is not lifting towards your ears and the kettlebell is above the shoulder, with the arm in a vertical position.

Common mistakes. Holding the breath, bending the wrist, arm not vertical, elbow bent, shoulder towards ears.

Place the left arm on the ground 45 degrees away from the body, palm on the ground. Push the right foot into the ground and slightly roll onto your left and drag your elbow on the ground towards you, so that you now have your left elbow on the ground, with the right arm remaining vertical. Keep the right knee vertical and the foot pushed into the ground.

Common mistakes. As above. Also, right knee collapsing laterally bending the neck.

Straighten the left arm and have the fingers pointing away from the body.  Drive the hand into the ground, drive the hips up high, keeping the knee above the ankle, that is, the shin should be vertical. Think about screwing the left hand into the ground anti-clockwise to assist with external shoulder rotation, keeping the shoulder well aligned. Keep the left leg straight, as you push both feet into the ground, and lift the hips and the chest.

Common mistakes. As above. More prominent is the tendency to lose the vertical line of the right arm, as well as bending at the left arm. Collapsing at the chest also causes the left shoulder to internally rotate and the kettlebell to lose alignment over the shoulder. Tensing through the neck.

With the hips high, step the left leg back behind you coming onto the knee. At this stage the left hand is still on the floor, with the shoulders stacked vertically.

Common mistakes. As above. Shoulders not in line. Collapsing left elbow, rounding the back, flexing at the hips.

If mobility permits, the transition from each position should be smooth. The transition from posting to a kneeling lunge is often a challenge in terms of body awareness and mobility. From this position, drive with the rear leg and come up to standing, bringing the legs together. Throughout the chest remains lifted with the kettlebell vertically placed above the shoulder.

Common mistakes. As above. Not driving with the rear leg and gradually stepping the foot up. Hinging forward at the hips.

Try to transition through each step smoothly. Reverse the process to get back down to the floor. At all times keep the kettlebell directly above the shoulder, and the joints stable-wrist straight, chest and hips lifted. Enjoy!

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