When working with the kettlebell, you quickly understand the benefit of squatting, pressing, and swinging.  You feel the muscles burning as they work, and the soreness experienced the next few days will tell you something positive is going on.  But what about the Kettlebell Get Up benefits? AKA the “Turkish Get Up.” Sure it is hard to stabilize the bell as you move to the standing position, and you may even feel the midsection contract during the first few movements, but what exactly is going on?  Three things stand out to me when I think about this question and thus why I decide to program them regularly. First, get-ups build shoulder stability.  Second, they teach you to lock your ribcage to your pelvis through activation of the musculature in your midsection.  And lastly, they teach the athlete to stabilize themselves in several basic human positions.



Gray Cook, a world-class physical therapist and creator of the Functional Movement Screen, says the following “stabilizers are what gives you the mechanical advantage to be stronger; this is how the TGU makes you stronger.” By supporting the kettlebell overhead while performing the get-up, we are building the stabilizing muscles in the shoulder.  When the stabilizers become strong, all other shoulder dependent movements (the press series, benching, pushups, etc…) will also improve and quality strength is gained.

“For many athletes, learning to lock the ribcage on the pelvis is essential for injury prevention and performance,” says Dr. Stuart McGill, premier spine specialist.  Keeping the pelvis locked to the ribcage ensures that your trunk musculature (or “the core”) stays activated.  When these muscles are “turned on,” power can be efficiently transferred to our extremities. Physiologist Bret Contreras tested several midsection exercises via EMG readings.  He concluded that the get-up was the only exercise to create 100 percent activation of the trunk muscles. Therefore the harder we can lock down these muscles, the more weight we can press, and the harder we can punch.

From day to day life to the most intense athletic feats, we find ourselves in many primary human positions.  Sometimes we are flat on our back and need to roll to our side.  Other times we must drive off our backs and get into a tall sitting position.  And sometimes we must get from our knees to a fully upright position.  Luckily all these movements are found in the get-up.  But not only are we moving through all these basic positions, but we are also expressing and building strength by stabilizing a heavy bell above our head.  Therefore the body gets markedly stronger in each of these positions, which carry over to performing better in everyday movements and sport.

Sometimes it can feel like not too much is happening during your 7 minutes of get-ups (even though a good sweat may be worked up), and we even may become bored with the movement at times.  But as you can see several key things are happening to our bodies as we move from lying on the ground all the way up to a standing position.  Keep in mind the benefits of shoulder stability, a more robust midsection, and more powerful movements the next time you perform a Turkish Get-up.

-Tyler Schaeffer, CSCS, SFG II, SFLI, USAW Sports Performance Coach

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