The Turkish Get Up is the most versatile movement in the RKC system. It incorporates all seven of the FMS movement patterns – squat, hurdle step, in line lunge, shoulder mobility, active straight leg raise, trunk and rotary stability – allowing us to utilise it as not only a strength building exercise but as a screening and rehab tool, making it the most valuable exercise to have in your arsenal of training drills.
I’ve been known to be a little bit of a perfectionist when it comes to teaching people how to do a get up. I firmly believe that one repetition completed with good form is far more beneficial to you than completing ten reps with a half arsed attempt at the movement. But I am pedantic about technique for a very good reason…
I train and have taught a large number of people how to use kettlebells during my time as a trainer. From personal trainers to the self-taught and those who have never touched a weight before in their life. All of these people have one thing in common… As their get up improves, their mobility and stability improves. As their mobility and stability improves their coordination improves. As their coordination improves their strength improves and as their strength improves so does the rest of their training.
The get up is not a “simple” movement to teach or to learn. In fact as well as being the most versatile it’s actually one of the most complex of all the kettlebell exercises.
There are a few books on the market that delve deep into the get up, its technique and corrective drills to help you improve your form, the most famous being “Kalos Sthenos – Kettlebells From the Ground Up”. However, most people’s get up can be greatly improved by simply doing the following:
1) Thoracic mobility and hamstring flexibility drills.
Two of the most common issues we see in the get up are caused by poor thoracic mobility (hunching forward or shoulder unpacking during the seated position) and hamstring flexibility (inability to keep the down leg straight or allowing the foot to rotate outward).
Often I see people grinding their way through the movement with bad posture in an attempt to improve. But why continue beating your head against a brick wall when there is an easier way.…
There are a number of drills that you can perform to help improve your mobility and flexibility in these areas, thus improving your get up and posture in general.
My favourite drills, and the ones I have found achieve the best results are all incorporated in to one simple mobility workout called the “Daily Dozen”. This simple eight minutes of mobility, done consistently in conjunction with the get up, will not only vastly improve your movement and posture but they are the perfect way to prepare your body for the workout ahead.
Pay attention to how your get up feels after performing the first round of mobility drills. If you are particularly tight in the thoracic region you may choose to focus solely on the armbar, bent armbar and kettlebell brettzel for the next round of mobility. Likewise, if you are feeling particularly tight from the hips down, you may choose to focus on the Cossack, can opener and lower limb drills.
For those of you who are beginners or may be a little daunted at the thought of doing a bent armbar or the kettlebell brettzel you can replace both of these movements with the “Brettzel” which will achieve the same results.
From the moment you are born you commence a journey of movement. You learn how to shift your weight in order to roll over on to your belly, rock back and forth, crawl, stand and walk. Without this shift in weight movement becomes very difficult.
The get up is a similar journey of movement. Each stage you move to has a different centre of gravity. In order to perform the get up efficiently and gain maximum results you need to learn how and where to shift your weight in order to take the kettlebell from lying to standing position and back down again.
The easiest way to remember where the weight should be felt is to follow this zig zag pattern – elbow, hip, hand, knee.
As you roll to your elbow you should feel all the weight of your body and the bell going through your elbow in to the floor. As you straighten your arm out and progress to the seated position this weight should shift and be felt through your glute, where your femur meets your hip. As you progress to the bridge/low sweep, your arms should form a straight line from the kettlebell, through your shoulders and the weight should be felt through the hand that is connected to the ground. And finally, as you transition from the knee to hand through to the lunge position the weight should be felt through the knee that is connected to the ground. On the descent the weight shift works in the opposite order – knee, hand, hip, elbow.
3) Do more reps.
This is important. In order to get better at something you need to practice it over and over again.
In an average workout you may complete anywhere between 25 to 100 repetitions of exercises such as swings, snatches, presses, deadlifts and squats however, the get up seems to get neglected when it comes to getting our repetitions in.
Instead of lumping the get up in with your warm up every time you train, why not try changing it up a little? Try spending an entire session focusing solely on the get up every now and then.
Mid last year I started using the get up as my recovery workout. Twice a week I would take a light kettlebell (nothing heavier than 14kg), set the Gymboss on sixty second intervals and then proceed to perform get ups for the next 100 minutes. One get up on the minute, every minute. The get up was to be slow and controlled, focusing on good form throughout the movement. By the time I had completed twenty get ups all tightness had washed away from my body and any aches and pains that were rearing their ugly little heads prior to the session had retreated with tails between their legs. My movement felt strong, natural and effortless and the more repetitions I did the better everything felt.
Coincidentally, after incorporating the 100 get up recovery workout in to my routine, not only did I hit a new get up PR but I saw gains in all other areas of my training too.
Work on your mobility, shifting your weight and getting more reps in and I guarantee that your get up will not only get better but you will get stronger too!
Shannon Scullin is an RKC Team Leader and PCC Instructor based out of Dragon Door Australia. As Australia’s first, and highest ranked female RKC Shannon brings a keen eye for technique to training and is renowned for being very focused on form ensuring that clients with previous injuries are able to train safely. As the head of Personal Training at Read Performance Training she uses the CK FMS to test and evaluate all clients before training, ensuring that not only will they look better from training, but they will also move better too. With a background in triathlon, adventure racing, rock climbing, cycling, hockey and running Shannon fell in love with kettlebells and the FMS system when she saw the immediate result that improving mobility, stability and strength has on sporting performance. She can be reached through: www.readpt.com