By: Keli Roberts
The Turkish Get Up (TGU) is a traditional KettleBell exercise that is a powerful total body movement sequence that trains specific aspects of fitness that are beyond just upper body, lower body or core. Truly integrated by it’s sequencing, taking the body from standing, to supine and back to standing, the TGU is a highly effective exercise for developing a perfect balance between stability and mobility.
I learned the TGU in a KettleBell clinic in Turkey that focused exclusively on that movement. Initially without a Bell in our hands we learned with a shoe resting on our fist overhead. This was a great kinesthetic learning experience because without perfect technique the shoe fell off our hand! The Kamagon® can offer even better feedback with Hydro-Inertia® and a single-hand ball grip.
Hold the Kamagon® Ball overhead, in the palm of your hand, and attempt to keep the water still. The kinesthetic learning is clear; the ball falls out of your hand if you’re not holding the shoulder stable while moving fluidly underneath it. Why, you wonder is this important? Why does this matter? To recognize the relevance you must first understand the stability/mobility relationships of the joints of the body to see why the TGU with the Kamagon® is one of my favorites.
First of all, your joints have structural differences so that they can perform specific functions. For instance, the knee is a hinge joint and ideally moves in the sagittal plane, with one degree of freedom: flexion and extension. Whereas the hip and shoulder joints are ball and socket joints, with the hip being like a baseball in a glove and the shoulder being like a golf ball on a tee. Both of these joints have three degrees of freedom: they move in all three planes of motion, sagittal, frontal and transverse.
To distil this further, different regions of the body have specific levels of mobility and stability. The foot for example, has to be stable enough to push off during gait. If it weren’t rigid we couldn’t walk! The ankle is a mobile structure, it needs to move through great ranges of motion for us to be successful at walking up and down stairs, getting in and out of a chair, and playing sports like tennis and basketball. Whereas the knee needs to be stable! Just ask anyone who has a knee that moved in the transverse plane and they’ll tell you about their torn meniscus. Hips are designed to move! For the hip to be successful at most activities of daily living and sports performance, it needs great mobility. Without it, our ability to function is greatly limited. The lumbar spine is a stable structure, designed for flexion and extension with limited ability to rotate, due the structure of the facet joints in that region. However, when you move further up the spine, at the thoracic region, it’s designed to be mobile, through all three planes of motion, while the scapulo-thoracic structure provides the stability for a mobile glenohumeral joint.
Why do I love the TGU so much? Because it does exactly what the body needs: Ankle mobility and knee stability (during the ½ kneeling to standing phase), Hip mobility (during the high bridge and quick transitional movement from bridge to ½ kneeling), Lumbar stability, thoracic mobility and scapular stability (throughout the entire exercise). And starting with a lightly filled 2-4 lb Kamagon® Ball with a 1-hand ball-grip is the perfect way to learn it. While practicing the movement, the body develops the mobility and stability necessary to perform the exercise with increasing skill. It’s invisible learning because of the kinesthetic nature of Hydro-Inertia®.
Here’s the breakdown:
- Standing, press the ball overhead with the ball resting in the palm of the right hand. Fully extend your elbow without hyper-extending it.
- Step back behind you with your left leg and bend your knees to a half-kneeling position. Then, swing the left foot inwards while placing your left hand on the floor. Maintain the upright position of the right hand and keep your chest open and lifted.
- Extend the left leg out from under you, and press the hips up to a high bridge. This position develops hip and thoracic mobility and scapular stability.
- Lower the left hip to the floor, while continuing to maintain an open chest. Bend the left elbow to the floor, pressing the chest upwards. Finally, roll onto the left shoulder and lower the body all the way to the floor, while holding the right hand up, perpendicular to the floor.
- Come back up the same way: Raise up until you are on the left elbow, then the hand, and finally to an upright seated position. Drive the hips up, back to the high bridge. This high position makes it easier to get the left leg back underneath you to the half-kneeling position.
- Once in the half-kneeling position, stand back up to upright.
- The goal is to learn to do this entire sequence Turkish Get Up smoothly while balancing the ball in the palm of the hand. Repeat the entire sequence on the other side, and then alternate for 2 - 4 repetitions each side.
Keli Roberts is a Development Team Member and Elite Master Trainer for Kamagon®, and is a BOSU®, Schwinn and IndoRow® Master Trainer. Additionally, Keli is the Kamagon® Brand Ambassador and a SCW Faculty Member.