Part 3 – The TGU


In the final installment of “Design a Better Warm Up” we will take  a look at the Turkish Get Up.  This may be one of the most unique and complex movements in your skill set and if you have not made it a regular part of your movement/work outs, go about making strides to do so. I enlisted the help of my Training Room colleague Derek Christeler to demo for me. He even got a new haircut for his video debut so prepare to be impressed! 

There are some prerequisites in qualifying to do the TGU as mentioned  in “Design a Better Warm Up” Part 2.  Seeing as we go by the “Joint by Joint approach” at the TR, the TGU make sense. It requires sufficient thoracic mobility, shoulder stability, trunk stability and hip mobility to mention a few. (PSA – I love using the term “trunk” instead of “core”. As you were.)

Before I break down the TGU. Here is what a polished version of the seven movements up and down should look like as demonstrated by Derek.

This article will not try to cover every single nuance of the TGU but rather touch on some main points that are vitally important in executing the movement and that also need a lot of refining, such as the setup, finish, the hip hinge and how not to hinge. There are 7 steps to the TGU and my terminology may differ from Strongfirst as to what I call the steps. I’ve found good results with varying names for the TGU steps with a range of clientele.


Going left to right from the top of the picture above, we will go over some of the 7 steps and also some of what we will cover in this article.

a. Start Position

b. On the elbow (1)

c. Tall sit (2)

d. Hip lift (3) to Low sweep (4) to Hinge (5)

e. Half kneeling (6)

f. To standing (7)

g. Reverse lunge to half kneeling

h. Hinge

i. Tall sit


1 – Set Up & Set Down (Kettlebell Safety)

Always respect the kettlebell. Do not try to fight the bell as it will always win. In other words, how you set up and how you finish your TGU are of paramount importance. Below Derek shows how he sets up in a fetal position to grab the bell, then rolls to a supine position. With his wrist neutral and shoulder packed he is now ready to get his start position.

2 – How to Hinge

The hinge is the cross roads of going up and coming down. In order to pass it effectively you must hinge and be able to load the hips as you transition from the sweep to standing on the way up and from standing to the sweep on the way down. As Pavel Tsatousline puts it,

“Focus not on reaching for the ground with your hand but on hinging with your hips sideways”.


First lets look at how to hinge correctly.

The hinge is slow and deliberate and on the way down Derek uses his hip flexor/top of his quad to measure where his hand should go as he looks to line up his toes, knee and hand in one line after he pivots his back leg in  “windshield wiper” fashion behind his body.

On the other side of the equation lets look at how an improperly executed hinge affects a TGU and the person under the bell. Below Derek is under a 36kg and as he hinges on the way up you can see the lack of stability. This is why the hinge is so important with a heavy weight overhead.

3 – The Chain

Wrist in neutral
Wrist in neutral

In the TGU, the wrist, elbow and shoulder on the weight-bearing side play a vital role. They make up a connective chain of command as I like to say. The wrist must stay in neutral. The elbow must be locked and the shoulder must stay packed in order for the weight to stay where you want it as you move. A “broken wrist” is shown below along with a “neutral wrist” in a side by side. Work on improving your grip strength in order to execute the TGU with a neutral wrist. A “broken wrist” will almost always lead to a bend in the elbow and now you’re one step closer to a bell on your head. Not a good look!

picture courtesy of
picture courtesy of

4 – Speed

The TGU is a slow controlled movement, you should be deliberate in your execution of each of the seven steps up and down with a very slight pause in between each one. Your breathing will not be as sharp as a kettlebell swing.

A method we use in our TRAC classes at the Training Room is a bottoms up TGU which requires a lot more focus for the seasoned TGU’er. It forces you to slow down and “grease the groove” or master the movement.

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