Turkish Get-Up: Roll-to-Elbow Conundrum

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Damn those Turks!  It’s no secret that I have a love-hate (mostly hate) relationship with the Turkish get-up. I love them because there’s no doubting their validity in terms of providing a lot of bang-for-our-training buck.  We’ve been utilizing them more and more at CP with our athletes and clients to address everything from scapular stability to t-spine mobility to hip mobility to glute activation to, well, lets just say there’s a lot of good stuff happening.

I hate them because, speaking from a personal perspective, TGUs do an excellent job at shining a bright, Bat Signal’esque spotlight on some glaring weaknesses and imbalances I have. And while I think I’m better than the average cat at performing them, I know deep down that I probably suck at them.

But it’s like I always say:  you’re only as strong as your weakest link, and it’s generally those exercises you hate most that are most beneficial for you.

Don’t believe me – read THIS awesome post by Roman on why you should embrace the suck.

Anyhoo, back to Turkish get-ups.

At last count there are like 593 separate steps to perform a proper get-up. Funnily enough, it’s step numero uno that generally gets people the most flummoxed (<—- I love that words).

Many people have a hard time with the roll-to-elbow because they try to do it like an ab crunch.  I know I’ve tried to use cues like “roll and punch the ceiling” which works for some people, but admittedly even this only works half of the time. If that.

One of my former distance coaching clients, Laura McNally, who also happens to be a Strong First (SFG) certified kettlebell instructor, recently invented an ingenious drill that really cleans up the roll-to-elbow conundrum.

Here’s Laura’s description:

This assisted drill helps teach the proper motor pattern, which is a roll with a pulling motion on the down arm.  You’ll automatically feel what’s supposed to be happening, and people can move to unassisted after only a couple reps.

Lay a heavyish kettlebell on its side so that the student’s hand on the down arm is holding onto the handle of the bell.  During the roll-to-elbow move, the student pulls against the handle, using the kettlebell as an anchor. (A variation is for the instructor to hold the student’s hand as the anchor, with the student pulling against the teacher’s hand.)

Bloop – the student pops right up.

NOTE: It’s important to highlight that you need drive the elbow into the floor when doing the roll, as opposed to just trying to drag the KB toward the torso without pushing the elbow down as a pivot point.

It’s definitely one of those drills that you have to try to understand why it works.  The drill helps to teach lat engagement and elbow drive. After a few reps, once the motor pattern feels grooved, try unassisted.

Since I first posted this idea on Facebook, I’ve heard from a number of kettlebell instructors that this drill helped switch on the lightbulb for the start of the TGU.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

I don’t share email information. Ever. Because I’m not a jerk.

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