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The Turkish Get Up - Where Strength meets rehab

My case to warm up with the Turkish Get Up (TGU) everyday

Most of the movements we do with a barbell are very sagittal plane (flexion/extension) dominant.  We need to move in other planes transverse (rotation) and frontal plane (side-to-side) movements.  Moving in other planes load our joints at different angles and work our shoulder stabilizers.  Our stabilizers protect our joints.  They make sure the the ball stays in the centre of the socket.  In general, when ball moves off centre you start create pressure in areas that are usually the source of pain.  The TGU works on your shoulder stabilizers by moving through different planes of movement.

The TGU is a great exercise and teacher.  Try paying attention to different positions of the get up and what it is trying to teach you.  One main principle is how to STACK.   Stacking allows you to align your skeleton to handle the weight of the kettlebell.  Look at Pavel in the first position.  Notice how his lower shoulder blade is actively engaged to support the weight of the bell.  As you work with your positions you will notice how organize your body will make the movement easier or harder.  This can be a lesson for you when you put a barbell overhead.  The more we can use our skeleton to handle the load the easier its is on our muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints. 

Test your stack.  During your practice of a naked get up, have someone press down on your top fist at each stationary position.  See attached link for more about TGU basics (  If you are stacked well you should feel the force transfer through your body into your bottom elbow or hand.  If not you will feel discomfort usually in your shoulder, back or hips.

As a therapist I use the TGU as a diagnostic tool and for rehab.  I can tell a lot about how a person moves and their lack of range of motions in their hips and shoulders as they transition through the get up.  You can use the TGU you to help you understand your own stability or lack thereof.  Also, I use the get up or portions it to work on shoulder stability.  I find that these exercises are a good transition from band work to loaded pressing and overhead catches.

Try working on 5 TGUs on each side before every workout with a light weight and gradually build up.  How does it feel?  Where are you having issues?  This can help unlock why you are having issues with other movements and lifts.  

Look for future articles on the TGU and its applications to movement and strength training and life.

Feel free to chat with me at the gym or send email to tell me how your TGU journey is going.  Where do you have issues?  Which positions are difficult? 

I look for to hearing from you.   Please feel free to send me an email or post a comment below.


Dr. Paul Oh

Performance Therapist


© 2014, Dr. Paul Oh. All rights reserved.