The Turkish Get-up

Short Topic


Chances are if no one is staring at you in the gym like a porn star in church then you're not training correctly. Okay, that's an exaggeration, but given the fact that most people wouldn't dare deviate from the norm in the gym, they never try some of the coolest, most interesting exercises available. After all, who wants to stand out in the crowd? Uh, we do! That's why we dug up an exercise called the Turkish get-up.

This is a classic movement with roots deep in iron-game history. The Turkish get-up was a favorite of old school strongmen (think handlebar moustaches and globe dumbbells).

Thanks to guys like Brooks Kubik, the get-up is making a comeback, especially among combat athletes and martial artists. That's no surprise since it trains your stabilizers, hits your all-important core muscles, and improves balance as well as functional strength. Here's how to do the get-up:

Step 1) Lie on your back on the floor. Hold a dumbbell in one hand extended in the air above you. Your elbow should be locked.

Step 2) Now the fun begins. You goal is to stand up with it, without unlocking your elbow and keeping the dumbbell in the air above you. The first step is usually to turn to your side and prop yourself up on one hand.

Step 3) Try to get up on one knee. The arm with the dumbbell should still be vertical and locked tight.

Step 4) Now stand up completely.

Step 5) This part is optional, but try it at least once or we'll think you're a sissy-boy. Reverse the movement until you're back at step one – lying on the floor with the weight still extended above you.

Options and Tips

Now, exactly how you get up isn't all that important as long as you keep the dumbbell above you and the arm straight. Experiment with different strategies.

Keep your eyes on the weight at all times.

Dumbbell too easy, tough guy? Try a barbell like the old timers used to. In fact, a couple of them could do this exercise using a load exceeding their body weights!

Start out with a light weight so you can get a feel for the movement.

There are several ways to work Turkish get-ups into your routine. You can use them as a warm-up or as a "finisher" at the end of your workout. Try to do one heavy set with each arm or do multiple "reps" of a lighter weight. Another option is to set a timer and do as many as you can in a given time, say, two or three minutes.

Do it in the aerobic room if you train at a commercial gym. (Just don't hit Buffy the spinning instructor on the head with a dumbbell. She may lose her gum and that would be tragic.)

Dropping a heavy weight on your noggin would be, like, bad. So don't do that. Seriously, if you start to lose the weight, it's better to just get out from under it and let it hit the floor rather than your face.

There, now we can guarantee that everyone will be looking at you in the gym tomorrow.