The Turkish Getup

Guest Article by Grant Lofthouse, RKC

If you checked out Eric’s recent post The 6 Fundamental Movement Patterns you learnt that it’s not about training the muscles in isolation but rather focusing on movements to develop athletic potential. Or in words – ‘moving with flow’ as opposed to a robot.

If you think about the typical common exercises such as the squat, bench and deadlift, it’s very one dimensional a.k.a robot like.

Squat – sit down, stand up.

Bench Press – pull bar to chest, push it away.

Deadlift – stand up with the bar.

All these common movements are performed in the sagittal plane which is only moving forward and back.

However there are 2 other planes of motion that also occur in human movement and they are…

  • Frontal plane – moving from side to side (like a lateral lunge)
  • Transverse plane – rotational movement; think or Eric’s one arm plank he performed in this video:

In MMA all movements in all 3 planes of motion occur so it would be handy to be strong in all three planes and not just one. That being, just sagittal.

If you follow Eric’s recommendations in his book – The Ultimate MMA Strength and Conditioning Masters Manual you would know that you should only strength train 2 times a week to allow for optimal recovery due to also having to handle work, life and mat training.

So if you only strength train 2 times a week you will want to get the most bang for your buck correct?

Now I’m not a fan of sport specific stuff however, this exercise that I’m about to introduce to is about as close to “sport specific” you can ever get.

It’s called the Turkish Get Up – and once you do it you’ll soon find out why it is so effective.

So let’s do a Get Up…

  1. Start in the fetal position with the kettlebell on your side. Pierce your hand through the handle, hug it to your lower ribs and roll back.
  2. Use both hands to press the bell up and only take the other hand away once you have stabilised the bell and you’re confident.
  3. If you have the bell in your left hand you will have you left knee bent and slightly outside the line of your body. Your right hand will be down on a 45 degree angle and in line with your hip.
  4. Push off with your left heel and roll in the same direction as your right hand and post up onto the elbow. Once you are posted – stabilise, suck your shoulders together and make sure the right shoulder is packed (down away from your ear).
  5. “Squash the spider” with your right palm and extend the elbow until straight. Once you are posted – stabilise, suck your shoulders together and make sure the right shoulder is packed (down away from your ear).
  6. Take your right foot and drag it over to your left. Now drag your right knee over towards your right hand.
  7. Bring your torso up so that you are in a lunge position.
  8. Straight the front and back leg up, push off the back leg and stand up with feet in a squat stance.
  9. Congrats, you’re half way there!
  10. Take a big step back with your right leg (think of a reverse lunge) and touch the knee on the ground gently.
  11. Windscreen wipe the back right leg and fold at the hips whilst placing your right hand back on the ground.
  12. Swing your right leg through and sit down. Check that your right shoulder is still packed.
  13. “Unsquish the spider” and fold back down onto the elbow. Check that your right shoulder is still packed.
  14. Lye back down onto your back gracefully. Place both hands onto of the kettlebell and bring it back down to your chest.
  15. Roll to the same side you got it from and place the bell on the ground.

That’s one!

As you can see there are so many exercises in one it’s a really great ‘bang for your buck’ movement. Also you’ll notice that because you’re in so many different positions during the get up, the shoulders become strong and stable which is great news if your shoulder is ever forced into a nasty position i.e. an arm bar.

So there you have it. Now you have an exercise that covers all movements, stabilises and strengthens not only the shoulders but the entire body AND a great time efficient exercise.

It is truly the best exercise for MMA. Give it a go and post your comments or questions below.

Grant Lofthouse is an RKC and the founder of Cardio Haters Training. He specializes in getting people sexy without cardio and has a current mission to help 100,000 cardio haters set themselves free from the treadmill grind. Grant has been featured in Australia’s Women’s Health & Fitness, Muscle & Fitness and Oxygen magazine. For more info visit

Eric's Comments...

The TGU is a great exercise, although I'm not one to call any exercise "the best" for anything, as there's no such thing. That being said, it's a great movement to incorporate into your training that I feel provides the biggest benefit in terms of shoulder stability. It's one that I have as a Fitness Skill requirement in powerDOJO once you get to the Orange Belt level.

Throw it in more near the end of a workout as opposed to the front because you don't want to tax your shoulder stabilizers before any heavy lifting. I like 2-3 sets of 2-3 reps per side.

Thanks goes out to Grant for the great breakdown of proper technique for the TGU!


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9 years ago

The get up is a great exercise! Although saying it is ‘the best’ for MMA is a little short sighted, the get up should be included in all MMA fighters training. The articles in-depth explanation of how to perform it is also really good; often the descriptions for this exercise are somewhat lacking!

9 years ago

I’ve just started doing the Turkish Get Up, in an effort to improve shoulder stability after a rotator cuff injury. I was told that I was doing too much pressing and not enough stability work on the shoulders.

It’s a great exercise, even with just a very light kettlebell it gives a good workout to the whole body. What I like most is the focus on both strength and coordination, which so many workouts ignore nowadays, as we have machines to coordinate the weight for us.

Thanks for the form guide on this exercise, I will be taking that with me to the gym next time.