I have been teaching Strength and Weightlifting classes at the Y for several years now so I am always looking for new moves so we don’t become bored. I recently came across the Turkish Get-Up and thought I would give it a try. This is not a new move, it’s been around since the late 19th century, but I had never tried it because it seemed too easy. Many people equate strength for huge muscles, or feats of strength (Happy Festivus for you Seinfeld fans!), or throwing a stone half way across a football field. But strength is our ability to contract our muscles to do work: to hold a pencil; to sit up; to roll over in bed. All of these movements represent the coordinated actions of muscles working together.
Our bodies are constantly fighting gravity and we need to build strength in order to stay upright. As we age we lose muscle mass which means we need to incorporate some “functional” moves meaning they strengthen muscle, build coordination, and train muscles to work together. These functional exercises have practical use in your everyday life.
If you take a tumble and fall down- you need to get up. I know that sounds ridiculous but there are many people who cannot lift their own body weight off the floor which can lead to all kinds of problems. Enter the Turkish Get Up.
This is typically done with a kettlebell but can be done with a dumbbell as well. If you are new at strength training, you might want to skip using a weight for a while.
1- Lay down on the floor (on your back) with a kettlebell or dumbbell next to your right side. (I use a 10 lb but beginners should use 3-5 lb.) Grab the weight and roll to your left side while raising your arm with the weight above your head
2-Keeping your right arm straight (but not locked) throughout, press up to your left forearm. At this point your right leg can come in front of your left leg. Keep looking up at the weight.
3-Press to your left hand and sit up. (keep that right arm up!!) This next step is the tough part.
4-Holding your core tight shift your weight to your legs and push yourself up. Sounds easy when you’re reading, doesn’t it? I have been doing this for a few weeks now and still have to cheat and let my left hand give me a bit of a push,
WAIT-WE AREN’T DONE! We have to go back to the floor.
5- Still keeping that right arm up, lower yourself to a squat. Set your hip on the floor, tighten your mid-section and gracefully bring yourself down to your hand, then forearm, then all the way to the floor. You will snicker as you “gracefully” do this until you master this move. Just try not to hit the floor too hard! It’s all about strength and control.
6-Do this 4 times, then flip over, shift the weight to your left arm and do it 4 times on the other side.
WHEW! I have some very fit people in my class and they were winded and sweating when they finished. If you can’t do 4, do 2 and try for 4 next time. After you have mastered 4, go for 6 and build to 8 on each side. This will take 3 times per week for several weeks for most people.
I looked at all sorts of videos online and found most of the trainers to be much too talkative or slightly over the top. This video is really amateur and for some reason she has her camera sideways, but she executes it perfectly. I don’t do the little fetus curl at the end but I suppose you could add that- just don’t stay that way- you have to keep pushing!