The Turkish Get Up (TGU) is a classic drill and display of power and coordination. It fits in with the Bent Press and a properly performed squat as exercises you won’t see in 99% of gyms in the world. A century ago, it was a bit of a different story, but we all know what happened when strength took a back seat to looks! For those of you new to CrossFit, you may be asking yourself, “Just exactly what the heck is a Turkish Get-Up?!” Well, I’ll tell you. The TGU can be a serious wake up call if you have haven’t yet developed any real functional strength.

I don’t know about you, but I train to get stronger. I understand that some people out there prefer to build size and aren’t concerned about TRUE strength. If that’s your cup ‘o’ tea then that’s fine. But….why not try to do both?

The Turkish Get-Up is a highly functional movement that requires all the muscles of the body working together in order to accomplish the task. One thing in particular to like about the Get-Up is that it can help to restore some range of motion into your strength routine, particularly in the shoulder girdle, which has a tendency to get tight in most people, regardless of activity level. Movements like the Turkish Get-Up will promote healthy joints, keep your posture correct, and your primal movement patterns intact, as well as get your heart beating faster and healthier.

Many of the things we do with functional training at CrossFit flies in the face of conventional wisdom. It is important to learn the rules before you break them, but equally important to think outside the box in order to achieve the best results in your training.

Prior to the popularity of bodybuilding in the 60’s and 70’s, the average person didn’t know what the bench press was. This isn’t because the bench press is no good, but prior to this era most men were training for functional strength that could be used in daily tasks. (I’m over here screaming “Eureka!” at my desk…) They would have seen no reason to train lying down. So before the measure of strength became: “How much can you bench?” you were more likely to hear: “How much can you Military Press or Bent Press?”. (Now we like to ask each other strange things like, “What’s your Fran time?”)

The Turkish Get-Up is simply the mechanically correct method of coming from a position lying on the floor, to standing while supporting a weight locked out overhead. Functional fitness? I think so. This movement insures that you have General Physical Preparedness and do not have weak points; such as a giant upper body and tiny chicken legs, or well-defined abs but no obliques to speak of, and therefore no rotational control.

Doing a TGU with a Kettlebell or dumbbell requires a great degree of shoulder flexibility and stability as well as wrist strength. You may not have these attributes when you begin, but the movement is scaleable and will help you develop them. Many people go on to rehabilitate very restricted range of motion in the shoulder girdle via the TGU. As an added bonus, the Kettlebell method also has a strong effect on strengthening your grip. The barbell method requires a greater degree of balance, and not as much wrist strength. It is also useful in that you can graduate the weight at smaller increments.

No matter how you slice it, the Turkish Get-Up is an important part of your functional CrossFit training regime, and an outstanding drill for the entire body. It may be slow, and sometimes boring, but it’s ALWAYS a great way to spend your time!