The Benefits of the Turkish Get-Up
TGU has a long list of benefits worthy of its own article, but I’ll do my best to summarize them. I was first introduced to TGUs during my kettlebell certification and after performing roughly 100 on the first day, I fell head over heels in love. Similar to the OHS, the TGU is an almost perfect expression of strength and stability, requiring the utmost coordination, control, shoulder stability and strength in your core, shoulders, hamstrings and hips.
Heavy get-ups, the kind in the triple digits for men and upwards of that amount for women require an enormous amount of strength and power simply to apply the drive to initiate the movement. You cannot even start this wonderful exercise without a high level of strength. Your hamstrings, shoulder and abdominals are all working in unison at near maximum capacity to get you going. It’s as if you are putting the gas pedal to floor in hopes of getting a truck out of the mud. It takes absolutely everything you have at a maximal effort to get from the ground to the support of your forearm, and sometimes, your tires are just going to spin and spin in place until you develop that total body unison strength. Like the OHS, the get-up teaches the body to apply and maintain tension for periods of up to thirty seconds. No other lifts fall into this category of theirs.
It’s also the best (and only) exercise that teaches “cross-lateralization” (as Pavel puts it), your right side working with your left side at max tension, and vice versa.
As a core movement, it is in the elite category. Since you begin by placing weight overhead and then holding it as you stand fully erect, your abdominal muscles are working very hard isometrically to resist spinal rotation and flexion, and as we have seen from all modern research, the very best kind of abdominal work you can do are isometrics. The movement is first initiated by driving into the floor with everything you have, activating the hamstrings to overdrive and the core muscles to be firing on all cylinders.
On the metabolic side, working at lighter weight for 3 – 5 reps per side at a time is a very challenging conditioning workout.
And if nothing else, it’s just plain fun to have a goal of lifting a human being up overhead.