The Hardest Part Of The Turkish Get-Up And How To Master It

The hardest part of the Kettlebell Turkish Get-Up that a lot of times people miss or misunderstand is the first and last part of the movement, coming onto the elbow and coming down from the elbow.

This can be due to many reasons, but mostly due to not engaging with the required muscles for long periods of time. Sitting in front of the computer 9 to 5 for five days a week doesn’t help. Simply not using them in day-to-day life doesn’t help. Another reason is that the muscles used for the initial movement are generally weak in many people, again, due to non-use.  Hence, once you overcome these common issues, your posture and back strength will improve.

I will explain some movements/actions that are involved in the first and last part of the TGU to help you understand what needs to happen. Then I will explain how those actions come into play step-by-step, and finally, I will explain the process in a different way (easily unlocked) so that everyone can understand it. If you are experiencing a problem with the first and last part of the TGU I highly recommend you read everything and also perform the little drills, as this is not just a switch-off and on type of thing.


The Hardest Part Of The Turkish Get-Up And How To Master It


Scapula Adduction

Scapula adduction is the action of pulling the scapula toward the spinal column. This action brings the shoulder further back, it can also be seen as pushing the chest out, and it provides a stable base for when the elbow is pushed into the ground.

You can play with this while laying down, relaxing the scapula, pushing the elbow into the ground, and feeling your shoulder coming forward. Stay there and pull the shoulder back through scapula adduction. Now you know why you need to perform this action during the first phase of the Turkish Get-Up.

Now you know an important part of how to keep your shoulder in place and safe.

Prime mover(s):

  • Trapezius (middle part)
  • Rhomboideus major
  • Rhomboideus minor


Shoulder Horizontal Abduction

Shoulder horizontal abduction is what you would have done during our drill to experience scapula adduction, pushing the elbow into the ground, that action is what this is.

Prime mover(s): Deltoid (posterior head)


Shoulder Adduction

Shoulder adduction is what happens if you lay down with your arms spread out like a snow angel and then pull your arms into your side.

Prime mover(s):

  • Latissimus dorsi
  • Teres major
  • Pectoralis major
  • Coracobrachialis
  • Triceps brachii (long head)

Most of the action will be on the back so, in this case, the pectoralis major and coracobrachialis will not be involved as much as it normally would for this action.


How To Perform The Hardest Part Of The TGU

Time to dig deep into how exactly to perform that first part of the TGU that most people have problems with. For this explanation, the kettlebell is in the left hand, so the right side is doing the work.

The first step is to get the left shoulder slightly off the ground and lean onto the right shoulder. This is done through thoracic rotation, sure, a part of the lumbar slightly moves too but we’ll focus on the thoracic spine. Thoracic rotation is when you’re sitting down and bringing one shoulder forward while bringing the other one back. The muscles involved in this action are the internal obliques, external obliques, rotatores breves, rotatores longi, and multifidus. These last three run along your spinal column on both sides. Your left leg pressing into the ground is also going to assist with getting that first part of the movement going.

The second step is scapula adduction.

The third step is shoulder horizontal abduction.

The fourth step is shoulder horizontal adduction.

You should now be positioned on your elbow.


Drill this part of the movement without weight. Coming up. Rolling and coming onto the elbow. Coming down. Lowering and rolling back down to the ground.


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I’ll explain the process in different words. Bring your shoulder on the side of the kb off the ground by rolling onto the other shoulder, assist with the leg while doing so. Continue on from the roll and push the elbow into the ground, while doing so, flex the hips, you should not be sitting up.

Initially, and also depending on the weight you use, these movements are best performed without pausing which allows you to take advantage of the little momentum that’s there. Pausing during the steps described above would require great control and strength.


Common Mistakes

Thinking that it’s an actual sit-up exercise, it’s not. You’ll know when you’re trying to sit up when the straight legging is coming off the ground (excessively).

Coming forward (sitting up) instead of rolling and then pushing and pulling yourself up. The elbow pushes and your hips pull.

Not creating a firm chest and back. The whole torso should be tense, abs, chest, and back.

Falling back down from the elbow onto the back.


How To Come Down?

Coming down from the elbow to laying back down is the same as the first part but in reverse. Slowly push less and less into the ground with your elbow while you slowly lower yourself to being fully flat on the back. Slowly releasing the hip flexion. Make sure to keep that shoulder high on the kb side, remember that little roll you did at the start, you do that in reverse now.



TGU Related Content:


Are you enjoying Kettlebell Training and the infinite kettlebell exercises that are possible? Buy yourself a copy of the Kettlebell Exercise Encyclopedia. Are you just at the start of your journey and want to lay a solid kettlebell foundation to safely build upon? Check out our online kettlebell certification which is suitable for at-home users and trainers. For the best kettlebell workouts check out the Kettlebell Workouts And Challenges series.


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