Jul 26, 2017
Time to Get Up

It may seem like there is never enough time in practice to do everything. Using exercises that benefit multiple parts of the body at once can help. If you need to fit more into your athletes’ workouts, look no further than the Kettlebell Turkish Get Up (TGU).

One of the main benefits of the TGU is increased shoulder stability. In an article for T-Nation, Dean Somerset, CSCS, explains that this exercise requires athletes to hold their arm stable in anterior, lateral, and overhead positions while engaging in various movements.

“You also have to stabilize the kettlebell from rotating around your writs, which takes a lot of rotator cuff involvement, making this a much more involved shoulder training movement compared to endless external rotations with a band,” writes Somerset.

Another benefit of the TGU is a stronger core. According to Somerset, in order to move through this exercise correctly, maintain balance, and refrain from injury, athletes must keep their core constantly engaged. Breathing regularly and focusing on individual movements can help with this.

“The TGU is invaluable in that it’s one of the few exercises where you’re requires to slow down and think about how you move, and not just pushing so much weight you come close to exploding every blood vessel in your body,” writes Somerset.

Beyond the core and shoulder, the TGU also trains athletes in multiple body movements. In an article for Function 5 Fitness, Tyler Schaeffer, CSCS, explains that athletes in any sport might find themselves on their back and needing to roll to the side or push themselves up quickly into a sitting or standing position.

“Luckily all these movements are found in the getup,” writes Shaeffer. “But not only are we moving through all these basic positions, we are also expressing and building strength by stabilizing a heavy bell above our head. Therefore the body gets markedly stronger in each of these positions which carries over to performing better in everyday movements and sport.”

When preparing your athletes to do this exercise, it is important that you break it down step-by-step. Personal Trainer Kindal Boyle gives a breakdown of the TGU in an article for Lifting Revolution.

  1. Lay on your right side in the fetal position with the kettlebell held close to your chest.
  2. Roll over onto your back and use both arms to press the kettlebell straight overhead. At the same time, bend your right knee so that your right foot is flat on the ground. Move the kettlebell to your right hand and place your left arm on the ground at a 45-degree angle to your body.
  3. Keeping your eyes locked on the kettlbell, push through your right heel and engage your abs to come off of the ground and rest on your left elbow.
  4. Push further, coming up to a straight left arm so your hand is flat on the ground.
  5. Push through your heel and your hand to lift the hips. Sweep your left leg back so that the knee is under your hip.
  6. Engage the core, pull the hip in, and lift up your shoulders.
  7. Move into classic lunge position by shifting the left leg so that both are pointed in the same direction.
  8. Stand all the way up, keeping your shoulders high and your back straight.
  9. At the top of the movement, pause for a moment. Then reverse the exercise by stepping back into a 90-degree lunge.
  10. Fold your left leg inwards once again and lower your left hand to the ground.
  11. Sweep your left foot back through and extend it out straight, lowering the hips and shoulders back to the ground.
  12. Repeat on the other side.

Since there are many steps to this exercise, Boyle suggests beginning without any weight. Another method she describes entails holding a shoe. This allows you to focus on keeping a straight wrist, having a target for your eyes, and lets you master the moves with some weight (but not too much) in your hand.

One of the biggest problems that athletes have during the TGU is their breathing. Somerset explains that the breathing pattern should be deep, relaxed, and consistent. Athletes should not be holding their breath or gasping during the exercise. If they are, have them slow down until their breathing is back to normal. Another common issue is tensing the neck.

“An easy test to see if your shoulders are high and diving forward (which throws your shoulders under the bus) is to simply take a two-second pause and try turning your head from side to side,” writes Somerset. “If you can’t turn your head, your shoulders are too high and you’re using your neck muscles to hold them up, so loosen up a bit.”

When deciding when to implement the exercise, Somerset explains that it works well as a warm up before heavier lifts or can even be used as a cool-down exercise. It can also be used between sets of heavier and more metabolically challenging activities.

To see the kettlbell Turkish get-up in action, check out this step-by-step video from Boyle.

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