Turkish Get Up for Core Strength & Shoulder Mobility

The Turkish Get for Core Strength and Shoulder Mobility

The Turkish Get Up or TGU is a blast from the past, apparently having roots in the Ottoman Empire’s Military as an all around builder of baddasses.

More recently, it got plenty of exposure in the 1900’s Circus Strongman circles.

Today, we use this exercise to develop coordination, increases core strength & build stronger shoulders. It’s not t really just one movement but several distinct movements strung together in a long chain. 

I program this exercise for everyone of my clients in some fashion. There are several mini patterns in this exercise that can provide you with a challenge no matter what your age & fitness level. So, even if you cannot complete the full TGU, there is some place in the progression that you can work with and see results.

There are several variations and plenty of places to work through this exercise; here are the most common ways I use this exercise

  1. As Part of a warm up sequence with light loads, or only focusing on certain part of the sequence.
  2. As a stand alone component on it’s own day or before other heavy work with moderate to high loads to really develop a stronger core, and full body strength.
  3. As part of a circuit for conditioning, usually with lighter loads.

How to do the Turkish Get Up

The 1st part of the exercise is not a true sit up, rather the name refers to the end point of the sequence. It IS however a great core strengthening exercise as discussed in our favorite Core Strengthening Exercises.

The Turkish Get Up Sit Up

There are 3 positions in the 1st section of the TGU Sit Up.

  1. Roll to the Shoulder
  2. Roll to the Elbow
  3. The TGU Sit Up
  • Start by laying face up on the floor. Roll and grab a kettlebell or dumbbell into a modified rack position. Bend the leg and place the foot on the same side as the kettlebell , flat on the floor.
  • Start the Exercise by pushing with your bent leg and reaching towards the ceiling with the extended arm. Keep pushing and reaching until you’re on your shoulder. Continue through until your are propped up on your elbow, and finally push your hand into the floor to finish in the Sit Up position. You should imagine yourself almost as a barrel rolling to the sit and up into the Sit Up rather than contracting into the abs as in a traditional Sit Up.

High Hips/TGU Bridge

From the sit up Position you will continue to push into the floor with the active leg. Visualize touching your hip to the ceiling and maintain eye contact with the kettlebell or dumbbell over head.

Swing Through

While continuing to support with the active leg, swing the outstretched leg back behind you so that the shine lies flat on the floor and your knee is now directly under your hip, you’ll be in a modified 1/2 kneeling position.

1/2 Kneeling Windmill

Push Your hip sideways/laterally towards the side with the kettlebell or dumbbell supported over head while continuing to “reach” towards the ceiling with the extended arm. You will finish in a 1/2 kneeing position with one arm overhead.


Adjust the rear foot if necessary and place the ball of the rear foot into the floor, brace the abs, and drive through the legs as if in a lunge. the front foot should remain flat while standing up out of the 1/2 kneeling position and the feet will end up together under the hips.


Congrats you have now completed one half of the TGU! Reverse the process to end up back on the floor laying face up.

Tips & Safety

  • Keep your eye on the kettlebell during the entire exercise, this will help with general awareness.
  • Keep thumb pointed towards your head. This will add some stability to your shoulder during the lift AND just in case the lift goes bad you’ll be able to dump it out away from you rather than on you.
  • Use moderate jumps in weight over time and seek to develop a real mastery of the entire movement.
  • If you have really angry shoulder this one my not be for you.
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About the author : Brendan Cabral

I use simple and effective strength training to help busy people improve their lives by getting stronger, leaner and moving better.

My services and training methods have helped 100’s of people double their strength, lose fat and move pain free.

Most of my clients have NEVER stepped into a gym before or even touched a weight.

I’m seeking is to empower people through fitness and strength training to live fuller, stronger lives, so that they feel capable of taking on anything that life throws at them.

Brendan Cabral is the owner of Thrive Athletics. Family man, lifter, coach, & artists.
Find more at www.ThriveAthletics.com

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