Full Circle with the Get-Up

February 18, 2009 10:27 AM

After years of heavy get-ups, this is my feedback.

A few years back I submitted an article to Dragon Door in which I shared my training of Turkish get-up. This article will be considered the Part II for "Mastering the Turkish get up for total body power." This article can be found here http://www.dragondoor.com/articler/mode3/418/

First, the revisions:

Mastery is a process. It is not an end goal in its self. The master is better than everyone else, yet he continues to find more, refine more, and polish more. I once thought I had mastered the Turkish get-up. I now know I have many more years to learn and improve. I can now stand up with 185lbs. with a 7-foot bar in one hand. Many people told me this would never happen, yet I accomplished it in under three years. Now I am eye-balling 225lbs. The same people who said I would not get 185lbs. are telling me 225lbs. is impossible. Fools! Mastery is about improving, even when many think you do need to improve more. I do not know where the line falls in the sand, but I know I will be the one to call it, no one else.

A bottom up get-up with a 40kg kettlebell.
Photos courtesy Adam T. Glass

On variations of the get-up. There are many types of get-ups, and, depending on your goals, some are better than others. If you want maximum strength you need to lift a lot of weight, i.e. the Barbell version. If you want your shoulders to have some crazy strength-endurance, use a Kettlebell and go for time. The recent FMS changes to Hard Style have brought in some variations of the get up by prominent RKCs such as Dr. Mark Cheng such as the hip bridged get-up. The classic use a sand bag for the get-up is an invaluable tool for grapplers. The point I bring to you; know the outcome you want before selecting your tool.

The get-up and the general population. There are 4 drills I personally believe every man and women in the world should do, The Deadlift, The Get-up, the Swing, and the Goblet Squat. The get-up is the primary upper-body drill in my opinion for 99% of people who are beginning a S&C program. A light weight bell such a 16kg will be all the resistance most men can handle for the first month of training. At Unbreakable Fitness it's not an issue of "can you do 1 rep?" The issue is "can you do 1 rep perfectly 30 times non-stop?" If the answer is "no," then you cannot even touch my heavier bells until you reach this goal.

The get up as a first class strength tool for advanced athletes. "I have trained for years now. I can military press half my body weight. Why do I need the get up?" My first thoughts—"Why not?" The focus of difficulty for the get up is a shifting beast. At first, people have to have the core strength to simply get their shoulders off the floor. Then the issue becomes shoulder strength and stability. For the overhead lunge, it may show you a weakness in the legs/hips. At the top of the rep is shoulder mobility and control. On the way down is where we spot your real control over the weight as you lay down on the floor while dominating the weight. For the advanced athlete, this gives you a variety of drills thrown together. Some people think advanced means "use a lot of drills" but remember what I said about the master—he refines and polishes. He takes away what he does not need. Mastery entails being the best while using the least amount. A master carpenter makes the fewest cuts, uses the least amount of nails, and produces the strongest, best looking house. To me a drill that does this much sounds like a tool worth hanging on to.

The end of the line, or the beginning of the journey. If you're paying attention, the Party line is to begin your KB training with the get-up as the Program Minimum and progress to the ROP. What happens when you pass the ROP? You return full circle and begin the next trip. You can always improve with this lift. You can now do a rep with the 40kg, Great job! Now go for 5 minutes. You got 5? Now do 10 minutes. I don't want to toot my own horn here too much, but I can lift more in this lift than most people in the world can military press. If I make it a point to strive for 20 minutes with a 48kg, than I feel it is a good addition to your program as well if your goal is to have a strong body. Trust me; I wouldn't lead you down a wrong path.

My thoughts on how much and how often. The get-up does not kill the shoulders as much as volume snatches or presses. By "kill" I mean how much it cuts in on your recovery, not as in "destroy". I have had weeks where I did get-ups daily, and I have had weeks where I did them 4 days, or 3 days. Now I usually do two days a week. One day is heavy volume; I take a 32kg or a 40kg, and work for up to 30 minutes of get-ups, continuous movement. This is a workout in its self and is great when you're pressed for time. The second day is heavy singles with a barbell working from 135 to 180. I typically do 3-5 singles. You do not need a ton of volume when the intensity is that high. The barbell requires much more focus, and a vise grip is needed to prevent it from tilting or rotating out of control.

On the safety of the lift. The get up is much safer than people would think. Practice the skill of dumping the weight before tackling heavier get-ups. Don't forget you have two hands either. It would be a shame to see someone get crushed because they were too stupid to use their off hand to prevent the bar from striking them. As far as injuries for doing the drill, I have not heard of any, but I know that does not mean anything. Think about it—there is no ballistic movement, there is a lot of movement, but it is all gross motor skill movement. There is not a ton to mess up when you're working with a 12kg or 16kg bell learning it as long as you pick it up correctly and remember the golden rule—Never do anything you could not do with a 106lb. Kettlebell.

Closing thoughts. I started the get up because a hard man wrote how they fixed his shoulders. I kept doing them because I was got stronger and stronger. I will continue to do them because I know they are first class for strength. My list of strength achievements grows every month, and I will continue to attribute the gains to many years invested in this all-around power movement.

Unbreakable Adam T. Glass, Old Time Professional Strongman, Trainer, and Crazy Person. Contact him at adamtglass@yahoo.com and view his training at www.Adamtglass.blogspot.com