If you only ever do one exercise again, make it the Turkish Get Up
There really is no such thing as a do-it-all exercise – the human body is just too complicated for that – but the Turkish Get Up might be the nearest thing you’ll find to one. It promotes strength, stability, coordination and mobility. It works core muscles and stabilisers in the back, shoulders, hips, glutes… hell, it works almost all muscles.
‘If you look at it carefully, it combines nearly all the basic human movement patterns into one exercise,’ says Will Newton, endurance sports coach and former instructor at British Cycling. ‘There’s a push movement, a hinge movement when you raise your hips into a bridge, and the last part is a one-legged squat.
‘It’s a great test for mobility and when I first started doing it I found it was great for fixing my shoulders. I spent so much time on the bike in that hunched over position, my shoulders were always sore, and cyclists also tend to get shortened hip flexors from pedalling so the Turkish Get Up is good at helping to diagnose and correct movement deficiencies you have.
‘Finally it’s a good strength exercise, because once you have the range of movement you can then add a load, which means you get strong moving between those positions.
‘For many cyclists, cycling is the only exercise they do, and while it is great for cardiovascular fitness, it doesn’t necessarily bode well for long-term health. We’ve now got an epidemic of people who are actually quite fit, but as they age they get frail because they lack bone density and the strength actually to keep themselves upright. That’s where the Turkish Get Up can help.’
To start with, try performing it with no weight until you can do each part correctly and can flow one move into the next. Then you can look to add weight, such as a kettlebell or dumbbell in order to keep challenging yourself.
‘It doesn’t demand an enormous amount of time every day,’ adds Newton. ‘In five minutes you could probably get six Turkish Get Ups done reasonably well. That’s the benefit of it.
‘I love it. I think it’s a great exercise.’
Lie on your back with your legs apart and your right leg bent, with your right foot flat on the floor. Hold your left arm at 45° to your body. Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell in your right hand, with your arm straight above your shoulder.
Form tip: tuck your shoulder in as though you were trying to push it into its socket, and hold it there for the duration of the move to preserve stability in the joint. Keep your wrist straight, with knuckles pointing at the ceiling, and keep your eyes on the weight.
Push down through your right foot and sit up until you are resting on your left elbow, and use your core muscles to maintain good posture in your back.
Keep your right arm pointing straight up and eyes on the weight. Keep that shoulder locked in position.
Push up onto your left hand so that you’re in a seated position, still with your right arm vertical, wrist straight and shoulder locked.
Push down with your feet and raise your hips off the floor until your body is in a straight line. Keep your eyes on the weight, which should still be pointing straight up.
Bring your left foot beneath you until you’re kneeling with your left knee below your left hip and your torso leaning to the side with your bodyweight on your left arm. Keep your eyes fixed on the weight.
Now shift your weight up until you can lift your left hand off the floor and swivel your body and feet around until you are kneeling in a straight line with your left knee beneath your hip and right knee out in front of you at 45°.
Your body should be fully upright, with the weight still pointing at the ceiling and shoulder and wrist locked in place. Look straight ahead.
Push off your right foot to rise up to a standing position, keeping your core engaged to ensure a strong posture.
Now it’s simply a case of reversing the moves until you’re back in the lying position again to complete one rep. Do three to five reps on one side, before switching the weight to the other hand and then repeating on the other side.