The Turkish Get-up

When you’re in a fight, the last place you want to wind up is on your back with your opponent bearing down on top of you.  The Turkish get-up is one of the most fundamental strength and conditioning exercises for MMA athletes because it trains you to stand up while simultaneously pushing away resistance.  This one exercise alone works every muscle in your body – including your heart – and it’s as functional as it gets for the sport of mixed martial arts.

Originally developed as a military technique for self defense, the Turkish get-up has become a viable tool for athletes and strongmen of all kinds.  The lift involves moving from a position where you are flat on your back into a full standing position, the whole time keeping a weight extended above you in one hand.  Do to the up-and-down nature of the Turkish Get-up, MMA athletes in particular can benefit greatly from training this exercise.

Though there are a few different variations on specific techniques, the classic Turkish get-up starts with the lifter bending the leg on the same side where the weight is being held. That foot is used for leverage to roll the torso up onto the opposite hip and elbow. From here, roll onto your palm, bridge your hips, and drag the far leg under your body. Complete the move by standing up just like you were coming up out of a lunge.

Make sure you keep the arm holding the weight straight during the entire lift. Think about actively pressing through that shoulder the whole time. Keep your eyes on the weight, maintaining a tight grip with your arm vertical.

Once you get to a standing position, you’ll need to return to the ground to complete the lift. Take it slow and controlled. Sometimes getting down can be harder than getting up!

Trainer Tips

Start by practicing with your hand empty at first to get a feel for it.  When you’re ready, you can perform the exercise holding a dumbbell or kettlebell.  Once you get comfortable with that, you can try using a barbell or sandbag to add an additional challenge.

About Paul Halme

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