Why Turkish Get-ups?
Here’s a short list of everything that we can get from within a single get up:
Single leg hip stability during the initial roll to press and during the bridge.
Both closed and open chain shoulder stability.
Thoracic extension and rotation.
Hip and leg mobility and active flexibility.
Stability in two different leg patterns – lunge stance as well as squat stance.
Both rotary and linear stability.
The ability to link movement created in our extremities to the rest of our body.
There’s actually a lot more, but we want to talk more about the last point first. When we create movement, we push into the ground – it’s basic physics. The harder we push the ground, the harder it pushes us back. If we make ourselves solid through the midsection we can turn that force through the body into something like throwing or punching in the upper extremities. But it all starts at the ground and is linked through our midsection.
The Turkish get-up allows us to learn how to create this linkage between lower and upper body, all the while steering the kettlebell through a variety of planes and angles. Done well it is filled with aesthetic quality, with beautiful movement.
So what are the benefits of the get up, and how can we use it to benefit us?
Warm Up and Assessment
Firstly, the get up can be used as a great warm up and self-assessment tool. If you begin your session with get ups for even ten minutes you’ll have a good idea of whether or not you’ve really got it in you to train hard that day. If your movement is crisp and you are performing the movement easily with your goal bell for that session then rip it up. If, however, you find yourself struggling and wobbling all over the place like a baby giraffe, maybe even dropping the bell, then today is not the day to go heavy.
Likewise, the get up can be used to highlight if you need to spend extra time on movement or flexibility exercises before getting into your session. Struggling to maintain a tall spine in the seated position can be a clue that you will potentially hurt yourself if snatching or pressing today, unless you can iron out those kinks now.
We use the get up as an assessment of clients – We can see by where they put their feet if they have the faith in their hip stability or want to use their quads. We can see if they lack dorsiflexion or the ability to brace through their core by seeing if they bend their arm as they stand up. It shows me weakness and tightness in the hips. In short – We can watch you do a get up and know, in one rep each side, what you’re struggling with today and what we need to do to maximize your training for the day.
Secondly, we can use the get up as part of our strength workout. There’s no difference between choosing to do a get up heavy or a bent press or double press heavy.
The benefits of heavy get ups are bulletproof shoulders and massive confidence in having big weights overhead. When the body is confident you can stabilize the load overhead safely it will allow you to get it there. However, if the body does not believe you have the ability to do so safely, it will shut you down. Ever tried to press a heavy bell and couldn’t budge it from the rack? Try some goal bell plus one get ups and watch that change quickly.
We can also use the get up to get in some extra time under tension and eccentric work with our goal bell. Let’s say you’ve pressed the 36kg bell and are struggling to get to terms with the 40kg. Because you are stronger once your arm is locked out than pressing, you should be able to do a get up with this bell already. However, once you have reached the top of the movement, slowly perform an eccentric press aiming to take five seconds. Once the bell is racked, put it down and start again. This extra time under tension and eccentric work is a great way to give you more time with your goal bell.
Reinforce Corrective Work
The get up can also be used as a “save document” function. If you perform some corrective work, then some heavy get ups, you tie it all together. Load creates motor patterns and with the get up involving so many different muscles and movements, it reinforces the corrective work just done.
Coach Jake during Turkish Get-up practice.