How to Perform Turkish Get Up with  Kettlebell for Full-Body Coordination

How to Perform Turkish Get Up with Kettlebell for Full-Body Coordination

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The Turkish Get-Up is a dynamic and multifaceted exercise that challenges the entire body, promoting strength, stability, and mobility. Originating from ancient Turkish training methods, the Turkish Get-Up has gained popularity for its effectiveness in enhancing overall fitness. This exercise involves a series of movements that require coordination, balance, and strength throughout the body.

Why the Turkish Get-Up Is Vital in Functional Physical Training

The Turkish Get-Up (TGU) stands as one of the most respected yet sometimes least favorite exercises in the realm of functional physical culture. It's often met with reluctance or groans from those engaging in this type of training. Similar to various exercises in the strongman or functional fitness domain, the Turkish Get-Up isn't exclusive to kettlebell training, even though it's commonly associated with it. While it's true that performing a TGU with any heavy object can enhance kettlebell lifts, the exercise itself is not confined to kettlebell workouts. Let's delve deeper into why understanding the significance of the Turkish Get-Up is crucial for kettlebell training, functional exercise, and everyday life.

Unveiling the Importance of Turkish Get-Ups

The analogy of "driving with your brakes on" vividly explains why individuals often fall short in reaching their potential in training. Just as using a high-powered muscle car while perpetually driving with the brakes engaged would hinder performance, attempting to build muscle without achieving normal joint range of motion can impede overall strength gains. The Turkish Get-Up serves as an invaluable exercise to retrain your nervous system to release the "brakes." Most muscle tightness stems from an overreactive nervous system rather than permanently shortened muscle fibers. Modern sedentary lifestyles have led to our nervous systems losing touch with the physical body's limits, causing an imbalance in muscle contractions and relaxations.

Teaching Strength to the Nervous System

Contrary to popular belief, the Turkish Get-Up isn't primarily about muscle building; it's about instructing the nervous system about strength within specific ranges of motion. By educating your nervous system about the true limits of your body, you can maximize your physical abilities. In the hierarchy of strength, the mind-body connection and flexibility sit at the top. The Turkish Get-Up hones these two vital aspects, paving the way for improvements across all areas of physical strength.

Equalizing Kettlebell Lifts and Turkish Get-Ups

There's a firm belief that the two key overhead kettlebell lifts—the clean & jerk and the snatch—should not surpass the Turkish Get-Up in terms of weight lifted or repetitions completed. Achieving potential in these lifts demands excellent hip and shoulder flexibility, which the Turkish Get-Up directly influences by training the body to relax the reciprocating muscles.

Enhancing Your Overall Workout Routine

Integrating the Turkish Get-Up into your workout routine is pivotal. It’s not merely about its direct impact on strength but also its role in reprogramming the nervous system, improving flexibility, and enhancing your kettlebell workouts.

Preparing for the Turkish Get-Up

Before attempting the Turkish Get-Up, a proper warm-up is crucial to prepare the body for the demands of this complex exercise.


Cardiovascular Activation

 Begin with five to ten minutes of light cardio, such as jogging, jumping jacks, or cycling, to elevate the heart rate and increase blood flow to the muscles.

Dynamic Stretches

 Perform dynamic stretches and mobility exercises targeting the specific muscle groups involved in the Turkish Get-Up, including:

  • Arm circles to loosen up the shoulders and arms.
  • Leg swings to warm up the hip joints.
  • Cat-Cow stretches to mobilize the spine and core.
  • Hip rotations and pelvic tilts to activate the hips and core muscles.
  • Wrist and ankle rotations for improved joint mobility.

Mobility Drill

Shoulder Rotations

 Perform controlled shoulder rotations in both directions to improve shoulder mobility and warm up the rotator cuff muscles.

Hip Mobility Exercises

 Incorporate movements like deep squats, hip openers, and lunges to enhance hip mobility and flexibility.

Safety Precautions and Equipment Selection

Safety is paramount when performing the Turkish Get-Up. Prioritize correct form over weight. Ensure you understand and can execute each phase of the Turkish Get-Up correctly before adding weight.

Choosing the Right Kettlebell


types of kettlebells

 Select a kettlebell that is appropriate for your fitness level. For beginners, start with a weight that allows you to maintain proper form. Men might begin with a 16kg kettlebell, while women can start with 8kg. Adjust the weight as your strength and proficiency improve.

Workout Environment

Opt for a safe workout environment with sufficient space to avoid accidents. Ensure your workout area is clear of obstacles and provides ample space for the movement without obstruction. A level, non-slip surface is ideal to prevent accidents.


 Choose shoes with good arch support and traction. Running shoes or cross-training shoes are suitable options. Avoid shoes with thick, cushioned soles as they can hinder stability.

Let's explore a comprehensive breakdown of the Turkish Get-Up technique

Lifting weight overhead properly is one of the most beneficial ways you can build overall strength. It requires both flexibility and force to move anything heavy overhead. By placing heavy weights above your center of gravity, you can also teach your body what neutral posture is. Most chronic joint pain comes from bad posture, and most bad posture begins with your mind being unaware of your body. Your mind not only loses track of what good posture should be but also what alignment your body is currently in. Stabilizing weight overhead helps remind your nervous system what good posture is and also helps it become more aware of your own posture. The Turkish getup will improve all of your overhead lifts, providing you with some incredible benefits.

In this video, Peter Hirsh, a nationally certified personal trainer and kettlebell instructor is going to break down the Turkish getup step by step. You may use any piece of equipment you like or nothing at all. Something as light as a water bottle is fine, but feel free to challenge yourself as you see fit. When you are ready to increase intensity in the TGU, first consider using a less stable load. Holding the center of a barbell can be a great way to make this lift more challenging without moving up in weight.

 If you happen to currently dislike the TGU, then simply try this: measure your performance in your favorite lifts, then practice your Turkish getups for a week (about twenty minutes/day, five out of seven days), and come back and retest your favorites. The improvement you will see may be enough to motivate you and maybe even shift your perspective on this ancient exercise. One day, you'll even grow to enjoy them!

Step-by-Step Guide to the Turkish Get-Up

Starting Position

  • Begin by lying on your back on the floor.
  • Hold the kettlebell in one hand with your arm fully extended toward the ceiling.
  • Bend the same-side knee so that your foot is flat on the ground.

Roll to Elbow

  • Use your free hand for support and roll onto your side.
  • Push off the ground with your opposite arm to raise your upper body and come up to your elbow.

Raise to Hand

  • Push off your elbow and raise your body further by straightening your supporting arm, propping yourself up on your hand.
  • Lift your hips off the ground and slide your knee under your body to come into a kneeling position.

Half Kneeling to Standing

  • Lift yourself off the ground and come into a half-kneeling position, keeping the kettlebell positioned overhead.
  • Stand up completely, maintaining control and balance throughout the movement.

Reverse the Steps

Reverse the movement by carefully stepping back into the half-kneeling position.

Lower your body to the ground in a controlled manner, maintaining the kettlebell's position overhead.

Return to Starting Position

Slowly return to lying on your back while keeping the kettlebell extended overhead.

Control the descent of your body back to the starting position, maintaining stability and control throughout.

Remember, the Turkish Get-Up is a complex exercise that requires practice and attention to detail for each step to ensure proper form and safety. Start with a light kettlebell or no weight at all to master the technique before progressing to heavier weights. Always prioritize form and control throughout the movement.

Progression Tips for Turkish Get-Ups

Once you've mastered the basic technique, you can progress by:

  • Increasing weight gradually
  • Focusing on smoother transitions
  • Incorporating faster tempos
  • Experimenting with different variations like using a dumbbell or adding pauses at various points in the movement

Turkish Get-Up: Benefits and Variations

The Turkish Get-Up is a comprehensive exercise that targets various muscle groups and provides numerous benefits. It improves shoulder stability, enhances core strength, and increases overall body coordination. 

Variations can include altering the speed, using different equipment, or incorporating it into a full-body workout routine.

Muscles to Benefit from Turkish Get-Ups

Shoulders: Stabilization and strength in the shoulder muscles.

Core: Activation of the entire core including the abdominal muscles and obliques.

Legs: Engagement of the legs in different stages, particularly in maintaining a stable base during the movement.

Hips: Mobility and stability of the hip joint.

Glutes: Activation during the rising and lowering phases of the exercise.

Nutrition and Recovery

Incorporate a balanced diet to complement your kettlebell training. Proper nutrition provides the energy and nutrients necessary for muscle recovery and growth. Hydration is also vital. Post-workout recovery should involve stretching and perhaps foam rolling to alleviate muscle tension.

  • Balanced diet, consume a diet rich in lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats to support your energy needs and muscle repair.
  • Staying adequately hydrated is essential for overall health and optimal exercise performance.
  • Implement recovery strategies like stretching, foam rolling, and massages to alleviate muscle soreness and enhance flexibility.
  • Total body workout, kettlebell snatches engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously, providing a comprehensive full-body workout. You'll strengthen your core, legs, shoulders, and back

Real-Life Success Stories

Lily's Transformation

Lily struggled with shoulder stability and core strength due to a previous injury. By incorporating Turkish Get-Ups into her routine, she gradually improved her stability and regained strength, allowing her to return to her favorite activities pain-free.

Pete's Strength Journey

Pete, a fitness enthusiast, found that including Turkish Get-Ups in his routine not only improved his overall strength but also enhanced his performance in various other exercises, demonstrating the functional benefits of this movement.


The Turkish Get-Up is a highly effective exercise that engages multiple muscle groups, enhances stability, and promotes overall strength and coordination. Through proper technique, progression, and understanding of its benefits, individuals can experience remarkable improvements in their fitness levels and overall well-being.

Incorporating the Turkish Get-Up into a well-rounded exercise routine, along with proper nutrition and recovery strategies, can lead to significant positive changes, as illustrated by real-life success stories. Mastering this exercise can be a transformative step towards achieving a stronger, more resilient body.


Peter Hirsh is a nationally certified personal trainer and kettlebell instructor who has been teaching and training with kettlebells for over ten years. Peter has dedicated his life to the enrichment and well being of others and currently teaches classes and trains students one on one in San Diego, California. Wanting to reach a larger number of people with his teachings, Peter started the Kettlebell Movement, a website dedicated to maintaining the authentic teachings of kettlebell training and promoting a simple and effective holistic lifestyle anyone can follow. Kettlebell Movement posts free weekly kettlebell workout videos.




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