Turkish Get Ups to Improve Shoulder Stability

As mentioned in last week’s workout post, I have been nursing a shoulder injury on and off for the last few years. I first hurt it at the gym and re-injured the same shoulder when I was pregnant. This hyper-mobile joint stuff when you’re pregnant (and nursing!) is no joke.

I need to get this shoulder healthy asap since the RKC is coming up in April 2012! It’s slowly been getting better, but I still have good and bad days with it. My other shoulder doesn’t always feel perfect either so in order to help increase my shoulder stability, which I think is the real problem, I’m doing Turkish Get Ups, holding for 15-30 seconds in each position. I was using a 10K kettlebell for about a month, then increased to the 12K for a few weeks and even tried 15 second holds (just one on each side) with the 14K last week.

Here’s a brief Turkish Get Up Tutorial! (Check out the link at the end of this post if you are local and interested in learning more at our kettlebell workshop on December 10th!)

Lie on your right side, the kettlebell sitting on your right next to your ribs. Grip the kettlebell with both hands and roll onto your back with the kettlebell at the bottom of your ribcage (no I’m not sleeping in this pic even though it looks like it!).

TGU Starting Position

Let go with your left hand and press the kettlebell up with your right hand. Pack the shoulder, keeping your elbow straight. “Draw your arm into your body as a turtle draws in its head.” Your left arm should be at a 45 degree angle. Bend your right knee and plant your right foot away from your left thigh and pointing approximately 45 degrees to the right. Look at the kettlebell.

Press kettlebell for turkish get up

Roll to elbow – Push off your right foot, pivot on your left elbow and prop yourself up on to your elbow. Push your chest out and your shoulders away from your ears. Look at the kettlebell.

Turkish Get Up Roll to Elbow

Elbow to post – Straighten your left arm out, pressing down with its palm and sit up. Do not shrug with your left elbow; press down from your armpit and push your chest out. Keep your eyes on the kettlebell.

Elbow to post in turkish get up

High Bridge – Push down hard with your left palm and right foot and raise your hips off the ground. (There are other variations here, but this is the one I usually practice.) You should still be looking at the kettlebell.

High bridge position in turkish get up

Leg sweep to windmill position – Sweep your leg through so that your left knee is in a straight line with your left hand and left foot Continue keeping your eyes on the kettlebell.

Half Kneeling position in TGU

Half kneel/Bottom of the lunge – Simultaneously straighten out your body and square your hips. Tensing the right glute helps. At this point, lower your eyes to the horizon and don’t look back up (at the kettlebell) until you reach this position on the way down.

Turkish Get Up Half Kneeling

Standing – Bring your right arm back so it is in line with your ear. Fire the right glute, drive from the front heel and stand up.

Stand up position in TGU

Now you’re up. Reverse each step to get down!

Turkish Get Ups are not always my favorite, mainly because my knee was reconstructed when I was in highschool and I have an extra bump (from bone being pinned together) which makes it really painful to kneel. However, they are a fantastic exercise so I’m working on loving them. I actually bought a light knee brace to use for the padding. I think I am going to get something else to stuff in there too so it’s a bit more padded. I’ll be much more likely to practice these often if they aren’t so uncomfortable on my poor little reconstructed knee.

Beyond promoting shoulder stability, turkish get ups also promote shoulder mobility and resilience. They improve strength, promote shoulder and upper back hypertrophy (when performed with high volume) and they can also be used as an assessment and corrective tool. So yah, I best be “getting up” even though I don’t always feel like it.

What is an exercise that you don’t love, but know you need to/should do?

Are you in the Boston area and looking to learn Kettlebell Swings and Turkish Get Ups? We’re running a basic kettlebell workshop on December 10th in Woburn, MA for just $50 and we have a few spots left! Let me know if you have any questions or want to sign up!


  1. You’re killing me with these workouts! I WANT TO!!!! I love the workouts that make you feel like you’re going to die. I always feel the best after those… :)

    But…I have to wait…

  2. Wait…are you from the area and I didn’t even know it?! Woburn is like 10 mins from me πŸ˜‰ Looks tempting! I haven’t tried kettlebells yet!!


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