“The Turkish Get-Up” – What Is It and Why Should I Do It?

Turkish Get-UpThe Turkish Get-Up (TGU) is as fun as it sounds, and more important to do than you realize. It’s true!  Why?  Because as we age it gets harder to get up and down.  As a health and fitness coach, that is the single most important reason why you should be doing this exercise.  I believe one of the reasons it gets harder is because as we age we get up and down less frequently.


Look at our children, they are up and down all the time, playing on the floor only soon to get up and run around, then back down on the floor, repeating this again and again…see what I mean?  When we are teenagers, we continue this activity but not as frequently as children do. Still, getting up and down doesn’t seem to be a big deal and for that reason we most likely wouldn’t even consider doing the Turkish Get-Up exercise at this age.  Some teenagers would probably look at and giggle.

But instead of anyone giggling, we need to give the movement more credit and continue with it throughout life.  As young parents, we still get up and down often because we have to pick up our children, or should I say…we have to pick up after our children. Ha!  Anyway, the point is that in our 20s and 30s, getting up and down may not be that big of a deal yet but you might begin to  notice that it’s becoming more of a “challenge.”

Unfortunately for many people, as they age they become more inactive. Moving into our 40s and so on, getting up and down is no longer a common every day movement.  You may find that you don’t get up and down that often because 1) you may have no reason, or 2) you have found other ways around it, limiting the movement because it has become difficult.   And so because we do the movement less and less it has become difficult, which eventually leads to complications. Yes, complications, because we do less of it, the muscles used for doing the movement are not worked, they become weak, and so one day you find yourself in the situation where you honestly say, without joke, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”  So…do I even need to explain more about why you should be doing this movement…EV-ER-Y-DAY?  Didn’t think so…

The Turkish Get-Up originates from the Turkish wrestling culture as a training technique used by the “mounted steppe warriors.” Turkish wrestling is one of the toughest and oldest wrestling events in the world.  Strength, power and muscular endurance is needed at an advanced level to endure such a sport.  Click on the link in the first sentence of this paragraph to learn more.

Bodybuilding.com states that “The Turkish Get-Up is a highly functional movement that requires all the muscles of the body working together in order to accomplish the task.”  I couldn’t agree more! And the good news for you is even though I speak about power, endurance, strength and make it sound like a “rawr” exercise to do, every one is capable of performing the exercise.  The Turkish Get-Up has various levels and ways to execute the movement.  This important exercise can be used in fitness classes for the older active adult  to the competitive powerlifter.  You can use it with or without weights.  If you use weights you can utilize kettlebells, dumbbells, barbells, sand bags, or anything that you can lift over your head.  You can even use a can of soup or bag of potatoes. Hell yes!  No special equipment is needed and you can do it anywhere – at the gym, at home, on the beach…ON VACATION!  Yes, I said that!

The Turkish Get-Up strengthens your core, all your major muscle groups (quads, glutes, abs, pecs, shoulders, triceps, back, and more), smaller stabilizers, tendons and ligaments. In addition, it improves power, flexibility and shoulder stability. It’s a full body exercise! Increase the load as you get stronger.  Start by aiming for 10 – 15  repetitions with each arm, anywhere from 1 – 3 sets depending on the time you have or other exercises you are doing. This exercise can be done on it’s own, is very functional, and can be done frequently throughout the week.  It only takes a few minutes of your day and is excellent to do for those with busy lives.  If there is only time for one exercise in your life, do the Turkish Get-Up.  You can remain in your regular clothes, do a few easy reps to warm up your body, add a weight to do a couple more at a higher level, finish up with a quick stretch and there ya go, on your way with your day.

Now, go practice the Turkish Get-Up. Click here for an excellent resource to show you how.  Do it everyday if you can.  Soon you will be surprised with yourself and your ability to not only get up and down with more ease but you will notice how it pays off in other ways you move everyday.   And to all you children out there…never let go of your playful and fun movements you do naturally everyday, as if you do, someday you will wish that you never had stopped.

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