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The Turkish Get Up | How To Do It & The Benefits

The Turkish Get Up | How To Do It & The Benefits

If you’re looking for a whole body, efficient exercise, look no further than the Turkish Get Up. This exercise involves lying on the ground with a weight overhead and transitioning to a standing position keeping the weight overhead the entire time. Let’s find out all about it and how you do a Turkish Get Up.


This movement seems to originate over 200 years ago with Turkish wrestlers. There are accounts of old training sessions that recount “getting up from seated in the Turkish style.” This exercise was very popular with old school strongmen.  Imagine a well bodied mustachioed strong man doing a Turkish get up back in the 1920’s. Recently, movements that involve multiple muscle groups in synchrony have been gaining traction among combat sport athletes and gym goers.

the turkish get up


The great thing about the Turkish Get Up really is how much musculature it involves. The more muscle you use in a given exercise, the more calories you will be utilizing. Therefore, if you are short on time and need a total body workout, the Turkish Get Up might be a good place to start.

This exercise also works a ton of stabilizing muscles. This is good news for the entire body because instability around the joint could lead to injury in the long term. You are working on stability in the Turkish Get Up because the muscles in the front and the back of the body are working constantly to keep the weight balanced above the shoulder.

The core activation that occurs in both the concentric and eccentric phases of this multi-joint exercise is great for sculpting a strong midsection, but it will also help stabilize your body during your other favorite heavy lifts like deadlifts and squats.

Because of the open chain (terminal end is in motion) and unilateral nature of the exercise, you have the opportunity to develop a better kinesthetic awareness in your body. In other words, you are able to better sense where your body is in space. Why is this important? This is what will allow you to achieve proper form without looking in a mirror and have structural integrity in other exercises without losing balance.

In contrast to other exercises, the Turkish Get Up forces you to slow down and think about your breathing and movement. This can be beneficial in a similar way to yoga or any other exercise where you focus on the movement and the muscles you are targeting. You’re not thinking about the errands you have to run, what you’re going to make for dinner, or the argument you had with your girlfriend; just lifting.

the turkish get up

How Do You Do a Turkish Get Up

 1. Start by lying on your back. Roll to your side to grab your weight of choice – the most commonly used weight is a kettlebell. With both hands, press the weight above your chest.

 2. Shift the weight into your right hand. Keep the right arm locked while tucking the shoulder back and down by engaging your lats. Maintain a bend in your right knee, while the left leg is flat on the ground at a 45 degree angle to the right leg. Place your left arm flat on the ground at a 45 degree angle. Now everything is tight and ready to go!

 3. Press into the right foot and shift your hips to the left as you begin to press into the left elbow and engage your core. Make sure to maintain a lengthened torso and reach the weighted arm straight up as you do this. The hand should be above the shoulder.

 4. Maintaining this long torso, press up onto your left palm. Your weight should primarily be on the left butt cheek and hand at this point. You may need to move your hand closer to your body depending on your anatomy.

 5. Press into your right foot and your hand to raise your butt off the floor a little bit.

 6. Draw the left knee back as you shift the left side of your hip downward. When you place your left knee down, you should have created a triangle on the floor between the right foot, left hand, and left knee. Throughout this motion, your hand is still stacked directly above the shoulder as you engage the muscles on your back to stabilize the shoulder joint.

 7. Release your hand, as you engage your core and glutes to extend at the hips. You are now kneeling on the left knee and supporting yourself with the right foot.

 8. Turn your left shin so that the toes, shin and left knee are aligned. Tuck the left toes under so you are in a low lunge type position. Make sure your right foot is directly below the right knee.

 9. Use the strength in the right leg to stand up as you step the left foot forward.

 10. Reverse the aforementioned steps to return to the starting position.

the turkish get up

Take Home Message

To begin with I would  highly recommend learning the Turkish Get Up without weight in order to get comfortable with the complex motion. It’s not easy to grasp. There are YouTube videos online which are worth checking out so you have a visual idea of how to do it.

Slowly add weight as you become more comfortable. Once you are able to perform the motion properly while focusing on the individual steps, you can start to challenge yourself with some heavy weight. Usually kettlebells are utilized for weight, but if you’re looking a challenge and you want to be like an old school strong man, you might try using a barbell. Don’t be ashamed if you can’t do that just yet. Keep practicing and you’ll be sure to reap the rewards of this highly technical and impressive lift.

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Sarah Joseph

Sarah Joseph

Writer and expert

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