Five Things The Turkish Get-Up Teaches You About Life

by Sebastian Müller on January 14, 2015

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RKC Team Leader Sebastian Muller performs a TGU

Try to imagine an exercise that could make your life easier—a “magical” exercise that improves your response to everyday challenges and can make you into a better human being? Would you include it in your training?

That exercise exists, it’s the kettlebell Turkish get-up.

For more than four years, I’ve been doing heavy Turkish get-ups with kettlebells at least once a week. Besides the Hardstyle kettlebell swing, the Turkish get-up is a basic exercise in RKC kettlebell training and one of the reasons I ending up training with kettlebells.

Even though it is pure fun and constantly provides new training stimuli, over time I became aware of the other benefits of the get-up, that also apply to life in general.

  • You’ll need to be flexible and work on your weaknesses
  • You’ll learn to set up for the next step, instead of just staying put
  • The more resistance you encounter, the stronger you’ll get
  • Consistency and discipline always pay off
  • Training is life

These are all things you need to realize when working on a solid and strong Turkish get-up and these same ideas also help in everyday life.

Be Flexible and Work on Your Deficits

If you’re thinking about performing a Turkish get-up with half of your body weight, everything must fit. You need to be flexible and stable in your joints, and have the necessary strength—along with a strong will.

If one of these things is problematic, it will pay off in multitudes if you work on that deficit. Otherwise, you’ll probably plateau at some one point or weight weight sooner or later.

Two personal examples:

With Turkish get-ups, my thoracic spine mobility has always been a problem, but now it is almost perfect because I kept specifically working on it for a long time.

Another thing – when I started kettlebell training over five years ago, the English language was a big problem for me. There were practically no articles about kettlebells written in German. Even now, I almost exclusively read in English, and not just about training. Now I have completed many certifications in English and have even held entire training sessions in English. Working on these deficits paid off very well and made me a lot better.

Learn to Set Up for the Next Step Instead of Just Staying Put

Eventually, after the floor press (you’ve pushed the kettlebell overhead with your arm) you need to decide whether you want to stand up or to stay put. If you decide to get up, you have many exhausting steps ahead of you. You’ll need to get up from a prone to standing position with a kettlebell overhead making it difficult for you. There are no exits and no shortcuts.

The same is true in life. Will you stand still or take the next step forward? One thing is for sure, the more resistance you meet, the more it usually pays off if you keep going forward. This brings us to our next point…

The More Resistance You Meet, the Stronger You’ll Get

If you use a heavier weight with your Turkish get-up, you’ll get stronger. “Progressive (Capacity) Overload” are the magic words with this concept. If you keep working with the same weight all the time, you’ll get used to it, and it will no longer be a challenge. Your body won’t receive new stimuli to force it to become stronger. You strength will plateau, because there is no reason for your body to adapt to a new task.

There is some truth to the German saying, “You grow with your tasks”. When you stop facing new challenges in life, you will stop growing. Of course it’s nice and safe in your comfort zone, but that doesn’t mean you should make yourself comfortable in it.

Heavy Turkish get-ups will be mostly outside your comfort zone, and the feeling of accomplishing these challenges is awesome. It’s just the same in life!

Consistency and Discipline Always Pay Off

I want to be straight with you, to conquer a half body weight Turkish get-up won’t happen overnight. You’ll definitely need to be persistent. If you’re not afraid of that, it will eventually pay off, guaranteed! There will be days when it’ll be hard for you, and days when everything will happen easily. The most important thing is to stay persistent. The best part of all this is the journey itself—your way, your personal records, and the moment you realize the little improvements toward your goal.

Sebastian Muller Spotting Student performing a get up

A Turkish get-up with half your body weight is an absolutely realistic aim, but it doesn’t have to stop there!

While you should celebrate your small, but important achievements in training, you should also do the same thing in your life! Focus on your goal, but be aware of all the things you have already achieved on your way to get there. This is an incredibly important thing to do! Be thankful for what you have already mastered, then it will be easier to focus on the bigger goals in the future.

Training is Life

At this point, you should have realized one thing, training is life or should be at least be a regular part of it. You probably also noted that the individual components of training and life have a lot in common, and together they form a bigger picture. Just like the Turkish get-up—where all muscles need to work together as a unit and you need to consider every aspect on your way to more weight—it should be the same in your life. Take a look at the whole picture. Everything is part of your life—work, training, spending time with your family, and the time you’re on your own. If you harmonize these things, nothing in life can stop you.

The Turkish get-up taught me many things during the past few years. Today I train my body as a whole, and according to how I use it in everyday challenges. I train my body because it is a part of me and therefore a part of my life.

***

Sebastian Müller, RKC Team Leader, PCC Instructor, FMS, and Primal Move Instructor, trains and instructs at the KRABA location in Wiemar, Germany. He can be contacted by email at: info@kraba-erfurt.de and his website: http://www.kraba-erfurt.de. His Blog is Vereinfachedeintraining.com

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  • Great article Sebastian. Get-ups, to the chagrin of some of my students, are part of our weekly training regiment!

    • Thank you Phil. Weekly Turkish Get Ups are simply part of life.
      Like a small law of nature. 🙂

  • Mark

    I’ll be honest, on swing days my self talk is “C’mon, you know it’s good for you.” as I get dressed but on Get-up days I hop out of bed. “Alright! Get-up day!” Love ’em. I just had no idea I was learning so much more. Great post Sebastian!

    • Thanks Mark. By the way, I got the same feelings for swings. 🙂

  • Michael Krivka

    Great article Sebastian! 🙂 Keep up the great work representing us in Germany and elsewhere!!!

  • Pingback: Getting the Most Out of Your Turkish Get-Up | RKC School of Strength()

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