Why the Get Up?

by Beth Andrews on October 9, 2013

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I love the Get Up, it’s one of my favorite exercises. I think it’s the ultimate show of strength to lie on your back holding a weight at arms length toward the ceiling and then  methodically move through various movements to a standing position, still holding the weight at arms length above your head. And then reverse the maneuver.

The GU builds tremendous shoulder strength, stability, and mobility. The isometric contraction from packing the Humerus into the socket will build strength that will carry over into other lifts. Plus, this exercise is possibly the best choice in developing pure athleticism, due to the movement transitions from one position to the next under load and tension. Because this exercise engages the entire body, it builds flexible strength. It is crucial that all Athletes that play sports possess this type strength. Athletes that can move in and out of quick explosive unpredictable positions during a play with flexible strength can possibly reduce the chances of injury. Not an Athlete? The same benefits will carry over to the general public that must handle the activities of daily life.

The GU builds linkage strength and works the stabilizers to correct many asymmetries to improve movement patterns. To quote Gray Cook, “The Get Up is the perfect example of training primitive movement patterns, rolling, kneeling, standing, and reaching.” Studies have shown heavy Get Ups activates all four of the “core” muscles. The Get Up builds resiliency and also embraces “Kalos-Sthenos”, beautiful strength.

Here are some of my favorite GU combinations. I practice these combos for 5-10 minutes straight through without putting the bell down.

  • The first is a GU to standing, then a windmill, then back down and switch sides.
  • The second one starts with a Snatch, then reverse the GU down, then back up, then switch to the other side with a snatch and repeat.
  • The last one is a GU to standing, then lower the bell to a front squat and press, then reverse the GU and repeat on the other side.

You can do any one of these three combos as a warm up, used with a medium sized bell to work on movement patterns, or go for heavy singles.

Here’s a few workout burner’s I play around with.

50 Swings- 5/5 GU.
40 Swings- 4/4 GU.
30 Swings- 3/3 GU.
20 Swings- 2/2 GU.
10 Swings- 1/1 GU.

Start with a light bell and increase to a heavier bell each set. Or you can keep the same bell all the way through. Next time, try the reverse sets from 10- 1/1 up to the 50- 5/5. Then lastly, mix it up, start with 20-2/2, then 40-4/4, 10-1/1, 50-5/5, 30-3/3.

Did I mention the goal is to NOT put the bell down all the way through except to switch sides? Try it once/week for 6 weeks and test your GU weight at the end.

Here’s a tip that I used to get a 36kg GU-Windmill combo.

Heavy overhead holds 1x/week. I increased the time until I got the 36kg for 1 minute.

1 min- 28kg R/L
45sec- 32kg R/L
30sec- 36kg R/L

Some say, “What can you bench?” I say, “What’s your heaviest get up?” Give these a try and let me know what you think.


Beth is the owner of Maximum Body Training. She became an RKC Sr. Instructor in Feb 2013 and the 5th Iron Maiden in June 2013. You can visit her website at www.maximumbodytraining.com

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