Kettlebell Turkish Get Up: How To And Best Variations To Boost Strength

Move your fitness game up a gear with the Kettlebell Turkish Get-Up – a full-body strength and stability exercise.

kettlebell turkish get up - man doing kettlebell exercises

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The Ultimate Guide to Mastering the Kettlebell Turkish Get Up to Help Boost Your Functional Fitness

The kettlebell Turkish get up is a compound exercise that involves transitioning from a lying position to a standing position while holding a kettlebell with one arm extended toward the ceiling. The movement requires a combination of mobility, stability, and strength throughout various stages.

You can use the kettlebell Turkish get up to help improve core strength, shoulder stability, and functional fitness.

Kettlebell Turkish Get Up Target Muscles

The Turkish get up is a comprehensive and highly effective full body exercise that promotes functional strength, mobility, and stability by targeting several muscles throughout the body.

  • Core Muscles
    The exercise engages the core muscles, including the rectus abdominis, obliques, and transverse abdominis, to help maintain stability and control throughout the movement.
  • Shoulders
    It heavily targets the deltoid muscles of the shoulders, especially the stabilizing muscles responsible for shoulder stability.
  • Legs
    The Turkish get up engages the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, particularly when rising from kneeling to a standing position.
  • Back
    It recruits the lower back muscles, including the erector spinae, to support the spine and maintain a straight posture.
  • Chest
    The chest muscles, such as the pectoralis major, are used for stability and support.
  • Triceps
    The triceps brachii helps to push the kettlebell overhead.
  • Hip Flexors
    Transitioning from lying to kneeling and standing positions engages the hip flexor muscles.
  • Forearms and Grip Strength
    Holding onto the kettlebell challenges forearm muscles and grip strength.
  • Stabilizer Muscles
    You will activate numerous smaller stabilizer muscles throughout the body to help maintain balance and coordination during the exercise.

How to do Kettlebell Turkish Get Up with Proper Form

Performing the kettlebell Turkish get up with proper form is essential to avoid injury and maximize its benefits.

Required equipment: Kettlebell

Steps to follow

Starting position
  • Lie down on your back and extend your legs.
  • Hold the kettlebell with both hands, arms fully extended, and the kettlebell resting on the back of your wrist.
  • Extend your non-working arm (the one without the kettlebell) to the side at a 45-degree angle.

Roll to Your side

  • Roll onto your side while keeping the kettlebell extended above your shoulder.
  • Bend your knees, bringing them closer to your chest.
Move to your elbow
  • Use your non working hand to push yourself up onto your elbow while keeping your eyes on the kettlebell.
Transition to your hand
  • Push yourself up from your elbow to your hand, maintaining a strong and stable wrist.
  • Keep your eyes on the kettlebell throughout this transition.
Lift Hips Off the floor
  • Lift your hips off the floor to create a straight line from your hand to your heels.
  • Your weight should be supported on your hand and the foot on the same side as the kettlebell.
Swing your leg through
  • Slide your free leg (the one opposite the kettlebell) under your body while pivoting on your knee.
  • Position your leg so that you are in a kneeling lunge-like stance.
Stand up
  • Push off your hand and come to a full standing position, keeping the kettlebell extended overhead.
  • Ensure your feet are at shoulder width.
Reverse the Movement
  • Carefully reverse the steps to return to your starting position, step by step, while always keeping your eyes on the kettlebell.
  • Ensure you control the descent and maintain stability throughout.
Lower the Kettlebell
  • Safely lower the kettlebell to the ground when you are back in the lying position.
Repeat on the other side
  • To work both sides of your body evenly, switch the kettlebell to your other hand and repeat the exercise on the opposite side.

Tips and Best Practices for Kettlebell Turkish Get Up

The Kettlebell Turkish get up is a highly beneficial exercise for general strength and stability, but it requires patience and practice to perform correctly.

The following tips and best practices can help you perform the kettlebell Turkish get up safely and effectively.

  • Start with a kettlebell of acceptable weight
    Begin with a lighter kettlebell to learn the movement and master your form.
    Gradually increase the weight to challenge yourself as you become more proficient.
  • Master each step
    Break the Turkish get up into individual steps and practice each until you feel confident.
    That will help you build muscle memory and ensure proper technique.
  • Maintain proper alignment
    Keep your arm extended and your eyes on the kettlebell throughout the movement.
    That can help with stability and control.
    Maintain a straight wrist and strong shoulder position when pressing the kettlebell overhead.
  • Engage your core
    Engage your core muscles throughout the exercise to stabilize your spine and protect your lower back.
  • Control the movement
    Move deliberately and with control.
    Avoid rushing through the steps or using momentum. The exercise is about strength and stability, not speed.
  • Breathe properly
    Coordinate your breathing with the movement. Exhale during the exertion phase, e.g., pushing up, and inhale during the relaxation phase, e.g., lowering down.
  • Focus on your hips
    The hips play a crucial role in the Turkish get up. Ensure they move smoothly and line with your shoulders when lifting and lowering your hips.
  • Use proper footwork
    Pay attention to the position of your feet during the get up.
    Plant your feet firmly on the floor, and pivot on your knee when transitioning from lying to standing positions.
  • Practice Both Sides
    Practice the Turkish get up on both your left and right sides to create a balance and avoid muscle imbalances.
  • Warm up
    Always warm up before the exercise, as it requires flexibility and mobility. Dynamic stretching and joint mobility exercises can help prepare your muscles for the movement.
  • Start low and slow
    Newbies to the Kettlebell Turkish get up should consider practicing without a kettlebell or with a shoe or light object in their hand until they are comfortable with the movements.
  • Seek coaching
    Seek guidance from a qualified trainer or coach if unsure about your form or technique.
  • Listen to your body
    Stop immediately and reassess your form if you experience pain or discomfort during the exercise. Pain is a signal that something is wrong.
  • Gradually increase intensity
    Incorporate heavier kettlebells or more repetitions into your routine as you become proficient.
kettlebell turkish get up - man doing kettlebell exercises-017

Kettlebell Turkish Get Up Common mistakes

The kettlebell Turkish get up is a complex exercise. Thus, making mistakes can compromise its effectiveness and safety.

Below are some common errors to watch out for.

  • Losing sight of the kettlebell
    Failing to keep your eyes on the kettlebell can lead to poor stability and control.
    Maintain visual contact with the kettlebell throughout the entire movement.
  • Rushing through the steps
    Moving too quickly through the exercise can lead to poor form and increase the risk of injury.
    Take your time, and move deliberately, especially during the transition phases.
  • Neglecting core engagement
    Failing to engage your core muscles can result in instability and discomfort in the lower back.
    Keep your core tight throughout the entire exercise to protect your spine.
  • Incorrect arm position
    Letting the kettlebell drift too far from the vertical line above your shoulder can strain your joint.
    Ensure that your arm remains aligned with your shoulder throughout the movement.
  • Not keeping the wrist straight
    Allowing your wrist to bend excessively while holding the kettlebell can lead to wrist discomfort or injury.
    Maintain a straight wrist to distribute the load properly.
  • Using too heavy a kettlebell
    Starting with a kettlebell much heavier than you can control can compromise your form and increase the risk of injury.
    Begin with a weight that allows you to maintain proper technique and gradually progress.
  • Poor hip and knee alignment
    Not maintaining proper hip and knee alignment during the kneeling transitions can cause discomfort or strain.
    Keep your hips and knees in line with each other to avoid this issue.
  • Inadequate foot positioning
    Neglecting the positioning of your feet can affect your balance and stability.
    Ensure your feet are firmly planted and pointing in the right direction throughout the exercise.
  • Not using the correct breathing pattern
    Incorrect breathing can disrupt your rhythm and make the exercise more challenging.
    Coordinate your breath with each phase, typically exhaling during the exertion phase and inhaling during the relaxation phase.
  • Skipping the warm up
    Failing to adequately warm up before attempting the kettlebell Turkish get up can lead to stiffness and discomfort.
    Dynamic stretching and mobility exercises are essential to prepare your body.
  • Ignoring pain or discomfort
    It is crucial to stop immediately and assess your form if you experience pain or discomfort during the exercise, Pushing through pain can lead to injury.
  • Lack of progression
    Not gradually increasing the intensity or load of the exercise as you become more proficient can limit your progress.
    Challenge yourself appropriately by increasing the weight or reps over time.
  • Neglecting both sides
    Focusing exclusively on one side of your body can create muscle imbalances.
    Practice the kettlebell Turkish get up on both your left and right sides to maintain balance.

Kettlebell Turkish Get Up Benefits

The kettlebell Turkish get up is a highly effective exercise that offers many benefits for exercisers of various fitness levels.

  • Total body strength
    The kettlebell Turkish get up engages multiple muscle groups throughout your body, including your core, shoulders, legs, and back.
    The full body engagement can help develop strength and functional fitness.
  • Core strength and stability
    The exercise places a significant emphasis on core stability and strength.
    It challenges your abdominal muscles, obliques, and lower back, promoting a strong and stable core, essential for posture and injury prevention.
  • Shoulder strength and stability
    The overhead position of the kettlebell during the exercise enhances shoulder strength and stability.
    It can help improve your shoulder joint’s health and resilience.
  • Improved flexibility and mobility
    The kettlebell Turkish get up requires flexibility and mobility in multiple joints, including the hips, shoulders, and spine.
    Regular practice can lead to an increased range of motion and improved joint health.
  • Enhanced balance and coordination
    The exercise demands balance and coordination as you transition between positions.
    That can benefit athletic performance and reduce the risk of falls in daily life.
  • Functional fitness
    The kettlebell Turkish get up mimics movements you might encounter in everyday activities, making it a valuable exercise for improving functional fitness.
    It can help with tasks like getting up from the floor and lifting objects.
  • Injury prevention
    You can reduce the risk of injuries in other activities and sports by strengthening the muscles and joints involved in the kettlebell Turkish get up.
  • Mental focus
    The exercise requires concentration and mental focus to perform correctly.
    The mental aspect can improve mindfulness and awareness during your workouts.
  • Calorie Burn and metabolic conditioning
    The Turkish get up is a demanding exercise that can elevate your heart rate and contribute to calorie burn.
    You can integrate the exercise into high intensity interval training (HIIT) regimens for metabolic conditioning.
  • Versatility
    You can adapt the kettlebell Turkish get up to various fitness levels by adjusting the weight of the kettlebell.
    It can integrate the exercise into different workout regimens, such as strength or circuit training.
  • Muscle imbalance correction
    The exercise forces each side to work independently.
    Practicing the Turkish get up on both sides of your body can help correct muscle imbalances.
  • Joint health
    The controlled movements in the kettlebell Turkish get up can promote joint health and reduce the risk of joint-related issues over time.
  • Time efficiency
    The kettlebell Turkish get up is a compound exercise that targets multiple muscle groups, making it a time-efficient option for those with limited workout time.

Kettlebell Turkish Get Up Limitations

The kettlebell Turkish get up offers numerous benefits, but it has some limitations.

  • Complexity
    The Turkish get up is a technically demanding exercise that involves multiple steps and precise coordination.
    It may take time to learn and master, especially for beginners.
  • Risk of injury
    The Turkish get up can increase the risk of injury, particularly to the shoulder, wrist, or lower back, when performed with poor form or a too heavy kettlebell.
    Proper technique is crucial to avoid injury.
  • Weight Selection
    Choosing the appropriate kettlebell weight is critical.
    Too light a weight may not provide enough resistance to make the exercise effective.
    Conversely, using a weight that is too heavy can lead to improper form and increased injury risk.
  • Not suitable for everyone
    Individuals with certain physical limitations, injuries, or medical conditions may find the Turkish get up unsuitable or need to modify the exercise.
    It is essential to consult with a healthcare professional or fitness expert if you have concerns.
  • Time intensive
    Performing a complete kettlebell Turkish get up can be time-consuming, especially if it is part of your workout.
    That may not be practical for exercisers with limited workout time.
  • Limited cardiovascular benefit
    While the kettlebell Turkish get up can elevate your heart rate, it is primarily a strength and stability exercise.
    You may need to complement it with other exercises if you want a cardiovascular workout.
  • Skill maintenance
    Like any complex movement, the kettlebell Turkish get up requires ongoing practice to maintain proficiency.
    You may lose some of the skills and benefits associated with the exercise if you stop doing it regularly.
  • Variability
    Although the Turkish get up is versatile, and you can adapt it for different fitness levels, some exercisers may not find it enjoyable. Others may not respond well to the exercise compared to other strength training methods.
man doing the kettlebell windmill

Kettlebell Turkish Get Up Variations

Variations of the kettlebell Turkish get up can add variety to your workouts, challenge different muscle groups, and help you progress in your fitness journey.

Half Turkish get up

The variation involves performing only the first half of the Turkish get up, from lying down to the seated position.

It is a great way to practice the initial stages of the movement and build strength before progressing to the full get up.

Bottoms Up Turkish get up

You hold the kettlebell upside down with the bottom facing upward.

That challenges your grip strength and shoulder stability even more because of the need to control the kettlebell’s balance throughout the movement.

Double kettlebell Turkish get up

It involves holding a kettlebell in each arm.
The variation increases the load on your body, making it even more challenging for your core, shoulders, and stability.

Kettlebell Windmill

The exercise focuses on shoulder mobility and hip flexibility.

It involves holding a kettlebell overhead with one arm while bending at the waist and reaching down towards the opposite foot. It’s related to the Turkish get up and can be a valuable addition to your routine.

Lateral Turkish Get Up

The variation involves moving laterally instead of moving linearly.

It challenges your core and stability differently. You move from lying on your back to a seated position, then stand up from there.

High Step Up with Kettlebell

Stand upright while holding a kettlebell at your side.
Step up onto a box or platform with one foot, driving through your heel, and return to the starting position.

The variation improves lower body strength and balance.

Loaded Carry with Kettlebell

The variation involves carrying a kettlebell in one hand while walking.

You can do it in a farmer’s walk style with one kettlebell in each hand or as a suitcase walk with one kettlebell in a single hand.

Loaded carries challenge your grip, core, and stability.

Reverse Turkish Get Up

Start from a standing position with the kettlebell overhead and reverse the Turkish get up movement until you are lying on your back.

The variation can help you work on the eccentric or lowering phase of the exercise.

Single-Leg Turkish Get Up

The variation involves performing the Turkish get up with one leg lifted off the floor.

That adds an extra stability challenge and emphasizes the strength of the grounded leg.

Kettlebell Turkish Get Up Safety Precautions

Below are some safety precautions worth noting when performing the kettlebell Turkish get up.

  • Learn proper technique
    Before attempting the kettlebell Turkish get up, ensure you have learned the correct technique from a qualified instructor or through reputable instructional resources. Proper form is crucial for safety.
  • Start with the right weight
    Begin with a kettlebell weight that you can comfortably manage while maintaining proper form.
    Newbies should start with a lighter kettlebell to practice the movement and gradually progress to heavier weights as their proficiency increases.
  • Warm up thoroughly
    Perform a comprehensive warm up with dynamic stretching and mobility exercises to prepare your body for the kettlebell Turkish get up.
    Pay attention to the shoulders, hips, and core.
  • Use a suitable surface
    Perform the kettlebell Turkish get up on a stable, flat, and non slip surface to reduce the risk of slipping or falling during the exercise.
  • Clear your workout space
    Ensure you have ample space around you to move through each stage of the kettlebell Turkish get up safely.
    Remove any obstacles or hazards from your workout area.
  • Secure your grip
    Maintain a strong and secure grip on the kettlebell handle throughout the exercise.
    Sweaty hands or a loose grip can lead to accidents.
  • Engage Your Core
    Keep your core muscles engaged to stabilize your spine and protect your lower back.
    That is critical for maintaining proper posture and minimizing strain.
  • Control the kettlebell
    Move the kettlebell with control throughout the exercise.
    Avoid swinging or jerking motions, as these can lead to loss of control and injury.
  • Focus on balance and coordination
    The kettlebell Turkish get up requires balance and coordination.
    Move deliberately and maintain your balance at each stage to avoid falling.
  • Avoid Overexertion
    Do not push yourself to lift a heavier kettlebell than you can handle with good form.
    Overexertion can lead to injury.
  • Monitor your breathing
    Coordinate your breathing with the movement. Exhale during the exertion phase and inhale during the relaxation phase.
  • Listen to your body
    Pay attention to any pain or discomfort during the exercise. Stop immediately and assess your form if you experience pain, especially in the shoulder, wrist, or lower back.

Who should do the Kettlebell Turkish Get Up

The kettlebell Turkish get up is a versatile exercise that can benefit several exercisers.

  • Strength and Fitness Enthusiasts
    Anyone looking to improve their strength, stability, and functional fitness can benefit from the kettlebell Turkish get up. It engages multiple muscles and can help build strength from head to toe.
  • Athletes
    Athletes from various sports can incorporate the kettlebell Turkish get up into their training regimen to enhance their core strength, shoulder stability, and overall athleticism.
    It can also help prevent common sports injuries.
  • Older Adults
    You can modify the kettlebell Turkish get up to suit older adults by using lighter weights and focusing on improving stability and mobility.
    It can help maintain or improve balance, reduce the risk of falls, and support independent living.
  • Rehabilitation and injury prevention
    Physical therapists often use the kettlebell Turkish get up as part of rehabilitation programs for exercisers recovering from shoulder injuries, lower back issues, or other musculoskeletal problems.
    It can aid in improving joint mobility and muscle strength while minimizing the risk of future injuries.
  • Functional fitness enthusiasts
    Those who prioritize functional fitness and activities of daily living can benefit from the kettlebell Turkish get-up as it mimics movements required for getting up from the ground, lifting objects, and more.
  • Anyone seeking core stability
    The kettlebell Turkish get up is an excellent exercise for building core stability and strength.
    It engages the core muscles throughout the movement.
    That can benefit exercisers seeking to improve their posture or alleviate lower back discomfort.
  • Weight loss and calorie burn
    You can incorporate the kettlebell Turkish get up into high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or circuit training regimens to elevate heart rate and promote calorie burn.
    Thus, you can make the exercise a valuable component of a weight loss program.
  • Strength and conditioning programs
    Strength and conditioning coaches often include the kettlebell Turkish get up in training programs for athletes and individuals seeking to improve their physical performance.
  • Fitness Enthusiasts with varied goals
    You can adapt the kettlebell Turkish get up to suit various fitness goals, irrespective of whether you intend to build muscle, improve endurance, enhance mobility, or add variety to your workouts.

Final words from LiveLIfe

The kettlebell Turkish get up is a complex but highly effective exercise that can help build strength, stability, and functional movement. It is versatile, can fit into many training regimens, and meets the needs of any fitness enthusiast looking to build strength and endurance.

Master the kettlebell Turkish get up technique and incorporate it into your training regimen to help you meet your fitness goals.

  1. Leatherwood M, Whittaker A, Esco M. 2014. Exercise technique: the Turkish get-up with a kettlebell. Strength Cond J. 2014;36(6):107-10. doi:10.1519/SSC.0000000000000096
  2. St-Onge E, Robb A, Beach T, Howarth S. 2018. A descriptive analysis of shoulder muscle activities during individual stages of the Turkish get-up exercise. J Body Move Ther. 2019;23(1):23-31. doi:10.1016/j.jbmt.2018.01.013

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