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The Turkish Getup

The Turkish Getup

Right, I need to warn you right at the very beginning. The Turkish getup is simply hard work. No two ways about it.

It is one more exercise that you don’t see a lot of in the modern gym world. Largely because many people who go to conventional gyms prefer the idea that they are working hard rather than actually working hard. It’s why the pec deck and cable crossovers are preferred to bench press and leg extensions are preferred to squats.

Of course breaking that mould is the Crossfit world. Much derided by bodybuilders, I guess because they consider the crossfitters to be heretics or something like that.

Crossfitters use weights, but they don’t use weights the way bodybuilders believe you should, and that is where the heresy comes in. Bodybuilders split every routine obsessively into body parts and off they go.. this exercise is biceps.. now I’m doing triceps.. shoulders.. oo, that’s a tricky one. Have to divide that into three parts. Front deltoid, side deltoid and rear deltoid.

A turkish get up? What body part does that do? Lots of them? But how do I categorise that in my anal retentive world of painstakingly slicing up my body into its component parts? Well you see you can’t actually categorise it. At this point, a bodybuilders brain explodes.

Right now I need to say that I have never done crossfit. I was interested in bodybuilding when younger, but my training morphed into more power focused work. Then the older I got, the more it morphed and morphed until I preferred to train for “functional strength” – anothe term despised by bodybuilders.

Having pumped biceps and a spray tan is not for me. Having muscles that can actually do something is preferred. You want to see a body that is both bulked up and functional? Look at international level rugby players these days. They have bodies that more approximate the ideal of the old time strongmen such as Eugen Sandow.

Anyway, onto the Turkish get up. What makes it such a great exercise? It’s quite hard to fully explain in here. I’ll try my best, but to be honest about this, I looked at this exercise for a few years as an exercise I should try some time, without doing it. Then, when I did, I went.. wow. To really appreciate it, I recommend you try it at least once. However, when you do, start small. It is a far more challenging exercise than it looks.

The benefits are many and varied. Firstly, it is fairly taxing on the cardiovascular system. Just try doing one set of 5 reps one just one side of your body and see how where your heart rate is at afterwards. Swap sides and do another 5 reps and it really gets a bit tough.

Next there is the shoulder stability and hip stability, as well as overall body strength. The core? Yep that too. Nothing better.

Those are your basic physical benefits. In addition to that are the things that I love these days, the benefits to your ability to use your body as a whole. The get up promotes what’s known as cross lateralisation, which is apparently getting the left side of your brain to work with your right. This type of thing is of course beneficial to any sport I can think of. It also improves your balance and co ordination.

Just reading what I read in researching this post was enough for me to decide to want to commit to doing the get up on a regular basis. But why haven’t I done it until now?

Well frankly, it’s very hard. It’s far easier to do simple exercises like bench press and shoulder presses.

Anyway, enough talk. Here’s how to perform the get up. You can do it with either a dumbell or a kettlebell. Like I said before, you need to try this exercise to appreciate it, so get to it.

Image Source: Detlef Romeike (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons





About The Author


A guy obsessed with stripping down whatever field he studies to get the optimum return from effort expended. Sort of like Tim Ferriss, except with zero fame.

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