It’s a rite of passage from man or woman to legend.
One of the first movements I ever learned with a kettlebell was the mythical, semi-legendary Turkish Get Up – a long-time staple in the training arsenal of the feared and revered Turkish wrestlers, dating back (according to some sources) over 200 years ago.
One of the most unconventional-yet-effective ways of training for full body strength, coordination, and top-to-bottom resilience. The Turkish Get Up hits just about everything: the back, the midsection (“core”, if you really must refer to it as such), the arms, the legs, the shoulders (and particular shoulder stability) and yes, even the heart and lungs if done for reps. World renown physical therapist Gray Cook has quipped that if he were limited to doing just one exercise, he would choose the Turkish Get Up (so consider that for your selection next time you get asked one of those silly “if you could only do X number of exercises for the rest of your life, what would they be?”).
For a very long time it remained a staple of my training. I really couldn’t tell you how many I’ve done over the course of the last 7 years, but the answer is in the upper thousands, no doubt.
Much like the swing, I got pretty damn good at the Get Up, but unlike the swing, I’ve never really done heavy Get Ups for a period of time any longer than 8 weeks, and even at that they weren’t really that heavy (32 kg – pretty moderate by most standards). More often than not I did them between 16-24 kg with an occasional leap into 32kgs or 36 kgs, but never for too long). This is border-line blasphemy in the kettlebell world, as Get Ups *rightfully* have attained the status of must-do exercise among nearly all kettlebell enthusiasts.
As easy as it is to get caught up in the whirlwind of the mindset “you have to practice what you want to get good at,” cutting out what we view as clutter and unnecessary distractions on our way to ever-increasing physical greatness it’s important to remember that sometimes – SOMETIMES – what looks like a detour is actually the way.
I hit a big Get Up PR (106 lbs/48 kg with no warm up. Video proof below) a few years ago despite not having practiced the Turkish Get Up in 10 months. A long layoff often spells certain doom for your strength in any number of exercises, but I’m convinced that filling gaps in your training will do a helluva lot more for your pet lifts than practicing them to the exclusion of all other things.
So what exactly did my training look like between February and December? Well, there was a lot of:
* Double kettlebell jerks
* Heavy swings and snatches
* Front squats
* Crawling (especially weighted)
* Straight-arm gymnastics exercises such as front lever work, back lever work, handstands, and so on
* Heavy ab work
* Lots and lots of OS resets
Getting strong in every nook and cranny of your body means a helluva lot more than getting strong in a very narrow, very specific movement. Moreover, filling in those nooks and crannies will make it super easy for you to build your strength as high as you want, and you’ll be able to nudge your weight higher with ease rather than pulling it to where you want as it kicks and screams at you and your efforts.
The moral of the story: Get generally strong before you try to get specifically stronger. It’s safer, simpler, faster, and more fun. Plus, your body will thank you by staying healthier and more resilient. And what’s not to love about that?
If you haven’t already, spend 6 to 8 weeks working on movements you’ve never done and watch as the PRs roll in like never before. You’ll wonder how you ever did without it.