The Spartan Warrior

The truth about fitness and nutrition.

Exercise You Should Be Doing: Turkish Get-up

The TGU is a highly functional movement that requires all the muscles of the body working together in order to accomplish the task. 

For the purposes of this article I am assuming you will be starting with a lighter dumbbell when first learning the movement, and progressing up to a barbell or kettlebell. I perform Turkish Get-ups with a dumbbell ranging from 80lbs-100lbs. I did not start using heavier weight until I was 100% confident my form was perfect.

When first learning the movement it is best to practice with either bodyweight or a very light object. Just because you may be strong, don’t think you can just pick up a heavy weight and start doing this, as you may be setting yourself up for injury.

How To Do A Turkish Get-up:

   1. Lying on the floor, safely move the implement into a locked out position straight up with your right hand. Your shoulder should be tight in the socket. Your right leg will be cocked, your right foot alongside your left knee.

   2. Pushing off your right foot, roll onto your left hip and up onto your left elbow.

   3. Push up onto your left hand.

   4. Holding yourself up on your left hand and right foot, bring yourself up off the ground, and thread your left leg back to a kneeling position. You are now left knee on the floor, right foot on the floor, and implement locked out overhead in your right hand.

As stated, your arm should be locked out. You will be stronger in this position than in a flexed position, where the muscles would be doing all the work. This is a whole body exercise and particularly a shoulder developer, it is not meant to tire your arms out.

   5. From the kneeling position take in a deep breath, tighten up, and lunge forward to a standing position.

   6. Reverse the process to come back down to the floor.

   7. Repeat with the other side.

Remember that a Turkish Get-Up is not complete until you return to the start position. The descent is one of the hardest parts, which is why I see so many people on YouTube doing a Get-Up to the standing position, and then dropping the weight to take a break to flex for the camera. Their Turkish Get-Ups do not count.

Where do I start?

In the beginning of adding Turkish Get-ups to my workouts everything was about form. I started with a very low weight and worked on perfecting each movement in the exercise. I would usually rack up about 10-12 reps per side before stopping for the day.

As I’ve moved up in weight, the reps have become less. Think of it like a deadlift. More sets, less reps. The reason being is that the move is VERY taxing on your entire body. You will feel them. They will hurt. The benefits you receive from them are phenomenal though. Strength, flexibility, concentration, power. The work your everything: shoulder, core (resctus abdominus, obliques), wrists, grip, quads, hams, glutes. If you do them correctly you will feel them the next day.

Currently I am doing 5-8 sets of 2-4 reps per side and I always warm up.

  1. 65lbs x 4 reps (each side)
  2. 70lbs x 2
  3. 75lbs x 2
  4. 80lbs x 2
  5. 90lbs x 2
  6. 100lbs x 1

Why should you be doing them? (by scottydog28 via reddit)

  • Shoulder Health: The benefits of shoulder packing are pretty well known. Here is a great article from Bret Contreras’ site. This should also have carry over to any shoulder press movements in addition to strengthening the entire joint.
  • Core: Yes, they were right. Your core gets trashed. Sitting up and in the intermediate stage, you are really using your core for stability.
  • Strength: The TGU is really like 5 exercises in one (in progression): Floor Press, Weighted Situp, Weighted Plank, Weighted Lunge/Split Squat/Squat, and overall isometric hold. The more weight you do with each, obviously you will get stronger.
  • Focus: A TGU takes ~30 secs to perform. Far longer than pretty much every other dynamic exercise. Concentrating on each part of the movement while holding heavy, face crushing metal above your head really helps you focus. By the end, there is very much will power and concentration needed to fight your fatigue and finish properly.
  • Proprioception: When all you’re looking at is the heavy bell over your face while performing a series of complex movements, you become very aware of each part of your body and where it’s at and where it needs to go. How any slight adjustment affects what you’re doing becomes immediately clear.
  • Balance: This pretty much speaks for itself. Try doing it without any weight and get up. Now imagine with a heavy weight in your hand. Any derivation from a proper path and you will dump the bell and/or fall over.
  • Flexibility: You will learn to bend in the right ways and in a slow and controlled fashion to do a heavy TGU.
  • Time under tension (on body): All that time under tension really puts a strain on your connective tissue (from your wrist right down to your toes) and I’m going to go a step further and say also your bones (but that’s part of ‘Things I Believe but Can’t Prove’). Everyone knows that muscles get strong fast, connective tissue does not. Doing TGUs will help strain and heal your ligaments and tendons in a way most quick and dynamic exercises do not, strain over time. I would also dare say it’s a safer way to strengthen them since it’s pretty much isometric.
  • Time under tension (on CVS): If you’re not breathing hard after a heavy TGU, you must be one bad mother. Spend 30 secs under real strain and your heart will thank you (while you may hate it).
  • Grip: You will feel it in your forearm and wrist. You are crushing the bell to hold it in place. Your wrist is preventing any lateral movements. They are doing them at the same time for a prolonged period. Your grip will get tired by the end.
  • Confidence: What can I say, there is no feeling like standing up from the ground with 100 lbs (45.4 kg) over your head.

The topic of exercises that I think you should be doing is going to be a series of posts. Each post will use the tag “eysbd” as a marker so that they can be searched out with ease. Starting off this series I have chosen the Turkish Get-up.


  1. pu25uitofchange reblogged this from thespartanwarrior
  2. shmorgesborg reblogged this from thespartanwarrior and added:
    These babies burn...before with my trainer...definitely...
  3. moremuscles said: Thanks for posting this. People need to stop doing crunches and do more functional exercises instead.
  4. adarkervision reblogged this from thespartanwarrior
  5. anisaer said: Sweet, I was looking forward to this. Your cardio/core workout is full of movements that I had no clue as to what they were. I Googled a few, but reading your posts is way more fun. For example: try saying “Proprioception” five times fast!
  6. hidefherm reblogged this from thespartanwarrior
  7. iwannarun10k reblogged this from thespartanwarrior
  8. goldtrack said: this is awesome, thanks!
  9. lacomeobejas reblogged this from thespartanwarrior
  10. thespartanwarrior posted this

Recent comments

Blog comments powered by Disqus