The Turkish Get Up (TGU) is an exercise which involves your whole body in a series of fluid movements, taking you from laying down to standing, and back down. It is an incredibly versatile exercise and worthy of a place in any training programme – either for warming up or as an exercise in it’s own right.
The TGU is easily adaptable to suit different levels of fitness, flexibility and strength. Over time it can improve each of these aspects and in performing TGUs you will also be promoting both upper and lower body stability. Because your arm is held overhead throughout the movement (with or without a weight) your core stability is challenged during the bending, twisting and lunging phases of the movement.
What we commonly see in training sessions when this movement is introduced to someone for the first time is a lack of mobility, stability, body awareness (proprioception), coordination and balance. Through repeated practice we have seen people who were barely able to stand up from the floor, in any manner, progress to doing full TGUs with weights. As with anything, repeating a movement slowly and incrementally over time will build the strength on a neurological and muscular level. Both components are vital in improving overall fitness because it is the neurological functioning that keeps your movements coordinated and smooth.
The TGU can help us to identify where improvements are needed. For example, if flexibility in the hip is lacking the leg swing phase will be difficult or awkward to perform, and if there is a general lack of upper body and core strength then just holding body weight up to swing the leg through will be challenging. In the book “Movement-Functional Movement Systems” Gray Cook, in relation to the TGU, states that:
“These movements serve as progressions to maintain and build basic movement skills across the lifespan”.
Making progression not only improves physical fitness but also brings a confidence in your ability to support your own weight and move well that is essential throughout life.
How do I do a TGU?
During each phase you need to move slowly and ensure you are stable. Here’s how to do a TGU – a step by step guide and a video to watch below:
- Start laying down
- Raise right arm above your head – ensure it remains above you at all times
- Flex right knee
- Push down with your right heel and rock onto your left elbow
- Push up onto your left hand
- Taking the weight of your body on your left and and right foot, lift your hips
- Swing your left leg behind your body
- Kneel on your left knee
- Stand up
- Keep your right arm above you at all times
- Step back with your left leg
- Kneel down onto your left knee
- Place your left hand on the floor
- Take your weight on your left hand and right foot
- Swing your left leg through in front of your body
- Control your descent onto your left elbow
- Lower down so both shoulders are on the floor
- Lower your right arm and leg
To complete one full TGU round, repeat each step above on opposite side.