Exercise of the Week: Half Turkish Get Up

While I’ve been writing up this blog post the Half Turkish Get Up has been on my mind so much, that I was actually doing them in my dreams last night.  I must say Dream Kevin has a lot better looking abs than Reality Kevin, so I think my subconscious mind is telling me something.  So follow Dream Kevin’s actions and include these into your training program too.

The Half Turkish Get Up is a great core exercise that also works the entire body as well.  It requires flexibility, mobility, stability and strength, making it a great functional exercise that can benefit the beginner to more advanced trainee.  It is also not your “typical” core exercise but can add a lot of flavor and more bang for your buck, than tirelessly crunching your life away.

This, of course, is only half of the full Turkish Get Up but is still a very effective exercise.  I personally like the “Half” version for my jiu-jitsu training as it mirrors movement and targets muscles that is commonly used in the sport in a very sport specific way.  Learning this first half of the movement will also help with progressing and performing the full version in general training.

The Set Up

The set up is important, as getting a kettlebell overhead while on your back can be challenging and not the safest.  So train smart and follow this approach.  Laying on your side with knees bent (fetal-like position), grab the kettlebell sitting beside you.  Your grip will be with the bottom hand facing palm up (this will be the arm stabilizing the kettlebell through the movement) and the other hand, palm down and over top of the other hand.  This grip will get you in the “racked” position for holding the barbell.  This means that the kettlebell is resting against your forearm, when holding.

Once the grip is secure roll onto your back, bringing the kettlebell to your chest.  Bend the right knee up and bring the heel up to wards the glutes and plant the heel on the floor.  The left leg is left straight out and on the floor.  Press the kettlebell up to the ceiling with both arms, let go with the left, holding the kettlebell with just the right arm. Screw your right shoulder into the socket.  This will stabilize the shoulder and activate the lat.  By “screw”, imagine you are squeezing an orange in your armpit trying to make orange juice.  A squeezing and twist motion.  You should feel the muscles around the shoulder tighten up.


The Drive Up

For the drive, you will focus the heel of the bent leg.  As you push the heel into floor, you punch up with the right arm and get your body posted up on your left elbow.

** A really good tip is to push your left heel into the floor along with the right.  This will help stabilize that side of the body.  If I do not push the heel of the straight leg down, then my straight leg lifts up a little and I do not feel stable. By pushing down with both will give you a stronger, stable base. **

All the while keeping the arm with the kettlebell straight up to the ceiling and stable.


The Post Up

The Post Up is moving from the post on the elbow to a fully extended arm position.  This shouldn’t be too hard, but take your time and do not loose focus on the kettlebell over head.  Once posted up fully on the arm, the only thing left is to raise the hips off the floor.



The Bridge Up

For the Bridge Up, we have three contact points to push with into the floor.  The heel on the bent leg, which will be your strongest push off point, the heel on the straight leg like before, and now the hand that you are posted up on.

To create a stable shoulder on the posted arm, screw that arm to the floor.  Push through all three points and lift your hips and butt off the floor.  Once you are in the top position, squeeze the glutes and abdominals, maintaining stable shoulders for a strong position.

Again all the while keeping the arm with the kettlebell straight up to the ceiling and stable.


The Coming Back Down

Ok so I’m up here, now how do I come back down.

Yes the coming down part is still part of the exercise so focus on it just as much as getting up there.

The hips and butt will come down first.  Then bend the posted arm and come back down on your elbow.

From there you will roll your shoulder back down to the floor into the starting position.

When coming back down, keep pushing heels into the floor to continue tightness and stability through out the lower body.

When completely finished, reach up, grab the kettlebell with two hands and safely bring down to chest.  Roll to your side with both knees bent and place the kettlebell back on the floor.

That’s the Half Turkish Get-Up.

Here’s a complete demonstration with no stops


When you feel like you have the Half version down then add the following steps needed to complete the full version.


About The Author

Kevin Fulton

Kevin Fulton is personal trainer in Pittsburgh, PA. His goal is to help his clients look, feel, and move better. In his spare time you can find him under a barbell or practicing jiu jitsu.

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