The exercise that everybody loves to hate

if you’re likely to skip leg day, it’s likely you’ll skip turkish get up (tgu) day.

As a student of movement and also a student of human psychology, especially as it pertains to doing hard things, it’s no surprise to me that people “hate” turkish get-ups. Most people hate doing difficult things, and since TGUs would fall under that category, they default to hating TGUs.

What’s even more interesting is that the more people tend to hate a particular exercise, the more beneficial that exercise tends to be. This is not always the case, but more often times than not, it is. In fact I know this feeling all to well, but I’ve just disciplined that emotion and learned that I too typically dislike things I’m not particularly good at. What’s even more interesting is that once you get past sucking at something, you seem to hate it less. Then, once you get proficient, you start saying nice things about what you once hated. And alas, the time comes when you become good at it, and now everyone should do it!

There’s a little lesson in humans-not-liking-things-they-suck-at psychology 101. This should be a high school and college course by the way. Not joking.

Onto the Turkish Get-up………

Executing the turkish get-up without any weight presents challenges for most of the chair-bound, desk jockey society we’ve turned ourselves into. Don’t take offense, I’m sitting in a chair, staring at my computer, and only corrected my posture because I’m typing about it. Now, talking about adding weight to this movement really makes a person feel like they’ll never be able to get good at the movement. 

Turkish get-ups require good hip mobility, shoulder mobility, trunk strength, shoulder strength, and leg strength in order to perform them correctly. TGUs are a great assessment tool for what people lack. Lacking things isn’t generally what people want to hear, but it’s what they likely need to hear.

If I told you that I could help you increase your “core” strength, leg strength, shoulder strength, improve hip mobility, reduce back pain, and build muscle with one exercise, you’d probably spit your drink out in excitement and tell me, “heck yeah man, tell me what it is and I’ll do it!”

Well, the exercise is called……..drum roll…………..turkish get-ups! (cue the anti-climatic music)

If you want to learn how to do this magnificently beneficial exercise for your entire body. Spend the 5 minutes watching this tutorial below:

When learning this exercise, give yourself some grace and be ok sucking at it for awhile. Work on the areas where you feel limitation. If you can feel that your hips are too tight to perform this exercise well, then you probably need to do some mobility and flexibility work on your hip flexors and glutes. If you feel like your shoulder can’t get into position, it’s likely you need to work on your thoracic spine mobility and shoulder mobility, which may require some pec stretches and soft tissue work. If you can’t even get off your back, your trunk may be incredibly weak and you need to spend some time doing some basic “ab work.” If you feel like you possess the mobility to do the exercise, but can’t stand up because your legs are too weak, then you need to spend some time developing some very basic leg strength.

All in all, if you’re able to do this exercise with good technique and some weight over your head later into life, just imagine how much more vibrant your life will be than the rest of your peers with only a butt print on their couch to show for their efforts.

Get strong, and then stay strong.