Breaking Down the Getup

The Turkish Getup (or Getup as we’ll call it) is a great exercise. It really helps to develop body control, shoulder stability as well as core strength. But it’s also a hard exercise to learn. Trying to teach a beginner how to perform a Getup from scratch can be time consuming and frustrating to say the least. That’s why we like to break it down into section. Let’s take a look at each progression and get a basic understanding of why they’re broken down into these specific sections.



The first progression you’ll see is the straight leg situp. This, obviously, isn’t part of the Getup at all, but it still serves its purpose. There are 2 reasons the straight leg situp is the first progression for the getup:


1) The initial half-situp movement off of the ground (which isn’t actually a situp)


2) Getting comfortable holding weight over your head (which can be a little intimidating for some, understandably)


Now don’t be confused, the initial situp movement of the Getup is not actually a situp (confused yet?), as we’ll see in the second step of our progression.


The 1/2 Getup will get us started on the actually movement, starting at the ground and taking us to having our hips up in 3 steps: rolling up to your elbow, sliding your hand under you and driving your hips off the ground. This includes the situp motion that I alluded to earlier. It is actually a combination of sitting up and rolling (but mostly rolling). This can be the hardest step for most people, especially when moving to a heavier weight. Oh, and don’t forget you have to come back down.


To get to a 3/4 Getup we’ll have to add 2 more steps to our 1/2 Getup. Once you have your hips in the air, sweep your off leg through, transitioning to a 1/2 kneeling position and finally bringing your shoulders to an upright position. This transition from leg extended to 1/2 kneeling is probably the second hardest for most. Trying to figure out where the knee should be placed in relation to the front foot seems to cause people trouble. Once you sweep through, try placing the knee directly under your hips. It may take a few tries but be patient.


And finally we have to complete the movement, which, from our 3/4 position, is simply standing up. Sounds easy  enough, right? Well, with a weight extended overhead, it is pretty typical to allow the weight to move around on the way up and have to stumble into the standing position. Just remember to gather yourself first before you being the ascent, drive through your front foot’s forefoot and allow your back foot to help just enough to keep you balanced.


In order to really be able to nail this exercise, it has to be done in a controlled manner. Trying to fly up and down will only allow you to get hurt. With that said, make sure to pause for 2 seconds at each step on the way up AND on the way down. Once you can perform 3 sets of 10 with a 25lb weight for your straight leg situps, it’s time to move to the 1/2 Getup. From there, perform 3 sets of 1 starting with a 6kg kettlbell if you’re a women and 8kg kettlebell if you’re a man . Add 1 rep each week until you get to 3. Once you get to 3 reps for your 1/2, move onto the 3/4 Getup and repeat…..all the way to the full Getup. When you can complete 3 full Getups with your current weight, time to increase by 2kg. Remember to keep it slow!

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