Learn the Turkish Get Up with these steps and modifications

Nov 17, 2023

The Turkish Get Up is a perfect exercise for core stability and joint mobility, however it can be difficult to get to grips with. That’s why I wanted to create a tutorial to go through some of the tips and tricks I share with my clients to help them build up to the full exercise. And hopefully this will help make things easier for you too.

Prerequisites for Turkish Get Up beginners

If you‘re coming to the Turkish Get Up as a beginner, and you’re looking for a place to start, let’s talk about some prerequisites.

  1.  Hip extension

The first thing you’ll need for a smooth Turkish Get Up, is adequate hip extension. When you’re lifting up from the floor to the correct position, you need the hip to be extended rather than flexed in order to be able to get your knee underneath your body. You’ll find that successfully mastering this first part of the move comes down to glute muscle strength as well as range of movement.

  1.  Hip and shoulder stability

In simple terms, you need your hip and shoulder to remain stable so you don’t start wobbling about all over the place. This becomes particularly important at the point of the transition where you come up onto one foot and one hand. I liken this to being on a tight rope between your wrist and ankle. Only stability through the shoulder and hip will help ensure you’re not rocking or falling forwards or backwards as you take the leg underneath into the semi-kneeling position.

Shoulder stability also becomes vital when you’re looking to introduce a weight. Without this you won’t be able to keep your arm vertical as you lift up from laying on the floor. It’s of course possible to complete the exercise without a weight to begin with and then build up to this.

  1.  Thoracic rotation or spinal rotation

When we move up from the floor into the position where your arm is up straight and supporting a weight, it’s important that you’re able to ensure your shoulders are vertically aligned. If you’re not able to rotate through the spine you’re in danger of overloading the arm by either under- or over- rotating, putting excessive stress on the anterior portions of the shoulder. This will then create tightness and potentially a muscle imbalance that could be problematic.

The best way to do the Turkish Get Up

Of course, this is about more than simply moving from a laying to a standing position. There are lots of things to think about and concentrate on throughout the exercise.

At around 4 minutes into the tutorial video above, you’ll see I demonstrate and discuss the full Turkish Get Up movement. I think it’s important to understand what the whole thing looks like when it’s done in the best way, before breaking it down in order to get started and then also get better at it.

Of course the idea would be to work on each part to the point that it’s one free-flowing movement up and down. But it’s unlikely you’ll get there right away.

The Turkish Get Up: step-by-step

As you’ll have seen, the start position you’re aiming for is flat on your back with one knee bent and the same-side arm up to the ceiling at 45 degrees, holding a weight or kettle bell if you wish. The hips are open and the foot is a little apart from the knee that it is adjacent to. That’s because you will need space to push yourself over and up into position. Note: this is not a roll where you’re using momentum.

To get started, push the elbow into the floor to get yourself up, using your foot as well. Concentrate on keeping that shoulder stable and vertical. You can look up at the weight to help you.

Next, come up onto the hand. This is the position where the hip extension comes in. From here you take that straight leg and put the knee in between your hand and foot. If you need to look,  you can, otherwise just adjust your foot come up to a standing position, then stand tall. That is the Turkish Get Up.

To get back down? You just do the reverse.

Need an easier option to get started?

If you need an easier way to get started, try this:

  1. Practise only the roll up part. Without weight, simply go from the laying position, to getting up onto the elbow by rolling up sideways. Your aim is to learn to roll the hip up, rather than stressing the spine by attempting a sit-up type movement. Repeat this until it becomes easier.
  2. If that’s still tricky, take a weight, hold the arm vertical while you’re in the laying position and just get used to rolling up a bit while keeping that shoulder stable. No need to get right up onto the elbow, simply rolling onto the other shoulder is enough to begin with as you build that stability.
  3. Ultimately there’s no other way of doing it than getting up onto the elbow and then the hand for this first part, so keep working on the steps above until you get there.
  4. The next part of the exercise is to get into the position where your knee is between your hand and foot – with all of them in a line. I talked earlier about the need for good hip extension for this, but in fact there’s an easier way to start. Simply keep contact between the knee and the ground and slide that leg through and under until it gets to the right place.
  5. Do this a few times to get used to the concept and then you can start working on strengthening the glutes and improving that hip extension to enable you to lift the leg through. If you need an extra step, try placing both hands on the floor as you lift your hips and pull the leg through.
  6. Finally, lift up from the floor so you have one arm raised vertically in a one knee up one knee down position. Adjust your feet as necessary and push up to standing. Again this last part can be practised independently until you can create a smooth, fully supported movement with no wobble.
  7. I always advise starting without weight and then building the weight in to make the exercise more challenging when you’re ready.

Watch from around 7.5 minutes for a demo of the tips and modifications above to make sure you’re getting them correct.

Hopefully that will give you enough different variations that you can identify which bits of the exercise you’re stronger in and which need more work. And then allow you to cherry pick the options above that will be the most useful for you in the shorter term. There is absolutely nothing wrong with just doing each phase as an isolated exercise to build it up.

Then with hard work, one day you’ll find you’re able to integrate it all back together and perform a full, weighted, Turkish Get Up.


If you want to build your core strength and stability please take a look at my 12-week online program.

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