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How To Do A Perfect Turkish Get-Up

By: Zack Mathews, NASM - CPT, CES, & PES, PN-L1

how to do a turkish get-up

So you are ready to learn how to do a Turkish get-up, props!

Maybe, you saw someone at the gym doing it and thought, what the heck is that?

Or you have always known about it, but didn’t quite know how to perfect it since it requires so many steps.

Well, it’s time to make you an expert on how to do a Turkish get-up!

Benefits Of The Turkish Get-up

The Turkish get-up one is one of my favorite exercises to perform and also to teach my online clients.  Because of the multitude of steps required, it quickly becomes a full body movement that will get your heart pumping in no time.

The benefits of learning the Turkish get-up include:

  • Increase shoulder strength, stabilization, and mobility.  You’ll quickly learn that although you are only holding a weight in one arm, both shoulders will be working.
  • A stronger core and obliques since you will be engaging your stomach muscles and moving laterally to raise yourself up.
  • Increases in glute strength and hip mobility.
  • Better stamina and endurance.
  • Improve your relative strength (how strong you are compared to your bodyweight).  Turkish get-ups, pushups, and chin-ups (Click here to learn how to do your first chin-up) are great examples of relative strength.


Look at all those benefits!  It is hard to find many exercises that can provide that many benefits in one movement.  It’s a great bang for your buck, so let’s learn how to do a Turkish get-up.

Turkish Get-up Workout

Instead of learning the full Turkish get-up in one go around, I was taught it in 3 different phases where I was able to master the movements in each phase. 

This is a superior way to do it since it will allow you time to practice your weak spots and get better at them, rather than rushing through the whole movement.

To learn the Turkish get-up in 3 weeks, add each phase into the beginning of your workout 2 times per week.

  • Week 1: Phase 1 - Perform 8 - 10 reps/side for 2 rounds.  Rest 60 seconds between sets.
  • Week 2: Phase 2 - Perform 6 - 8 reps/side for 2 rounds. Rest 60 - 90 seconds between sets.
  • Week 3: Phase 3 - Perform 5 reps/side for 2 rounds.  Rest 90 seconds between sets.

How To Do A Turkish Get-Up

Phase 1 Turkish Get-Up Set Up

The first phase is all about getting a solid starting position to allow for a fluid motion all the way from the top to bottom.  Here is your starting position with two different views.

Turkish Get-up set up

Start by lying on your back with one leg bent at the knee and that same side hand is extended overhead.  You can do these without any weights or add a dumbbell or kettlebell for an added challenge. 

Your other arm will be at a 30-45% angle with your hand flat on the floor

The shoulder position of the arm being extended should be tucked back into your shoulder capsule to ensure optimal shoulder health.  Take a look at the two pictures below to see the difference between one arm being stretched forward, versus letting the arm drop back into the capsule.

Turkish Get-up Shoulder Correction

No, I am not in pain here, although it looks like I am!  I was recording a video and talking.

The final part of your setup is where you will be looking.  Keep your eyes on the arm that is extended throughout the whole movement.

This is your optimal starting position and you should start and end each Turkish get-up rep in this position.

The first phase can be broken up into 4 steps.

Step 1: 

Using your core muscles, and not rotating your hips, transfer your body onto your elbow and forearms. Hold for 1/2 - 1 second.


Step 2:

Raise your elbow off the ground and lock out your arm so it is straight and your hand stays flat on the ground.  Hold for 1/2 - 1 second.


Step 3:

Transition back down to your elbow at a controlled pace.  Hold for 1/2 - 1 second.


Step 4:

Return slowly to the starting position and drop your shoulder back into the shoulder capsule before beginning the next rep.  Hold for 1/2 - 1 second.

turkish get up set up with dumbbell

Those are the 4 movements for phase 1.  I added the 1/2 - 1 second hold at each position to really show you that I want you taking this slowly step by step, and really owning each movement. 

I am much more impressed with someone that does this in a controlled, clean fashion, rather than someone that loads up a huge dumbbell and just rushes through it.

Shoot for 8 - 10 reps on each side for 2 rounds total.  Rest 60 seconds between sets.

Half Turkish Get-Up Phase 2

Phase 2 is called the half Turkish get-up.

You will be incorporating your hips and glutes, along with using your hips and core to rotate your body.

The end goal of this phase it to be in a kneeling reverse lunge position with your body positioned straight forward.

To begin, start by doing the first two steps from phase one to get yourself up and onto your hand.

Now, instead of going back down, push your hips up as high as you can.  This is the most important part in a half Turkish get-up. Think of yourself doing a glute bridge and want to get your butt as high as it can go.

If you can't get your hips that high off the ground, they may be tight and need extra stretching.  Check out my favorite hip mobility drills here.


half turkish get up

The next sequence is one of the toughest for a lot of my clients.

You want to rotate your hips down as you bring your leg thats extended, under you and onto your knee.

From here, push up from your hand on the ground, and rotate your body so you are positioned looking straight ahead, with your arm still locked overhead with the weight.

If you have any back pain while twisting into position, you will want to work on specific exercises that will stretch your back.

Turkish Getup Step 6

Time to head back down now the same way you came up.

Hinge yourself to the side to get your hand on the ground for support.

Once you are stable with your base, kick your leg back out and straighten it out with your heel touching the ground.

Lower your hips to the ground, and guess what...

You are back into phase 1!

You now what to do here.  Control the movement back to your elbow and forearm, and then slowly onto your back.

Turkish Getup Step 9
Turkish Getup Step 10
Turkish Getup Step 11
Turkish Getup Step 12
turkish get-up step final

Work on perfecting the half Turkish get-up since it's the toughest.

There is no problem staying here for 2-4 weeks mastering the rotation, keeping your arm locked up, and controlling the weight back down.

Because of the added movements in this phase, less total reps will be required.

Perform 6-8 reps on each side for 2 rounds total.

Full Turkish Get-Up Steps

You've made it!

Time for phase 3.

It requires pushing yourself up from the kneeling position into a tall, upright position.

Once you reach the top, just like hiking up a mountain, you need to get down.

Step back into a reverse lunge and put your knee on the ground.

You're right back into phase 2 here, so you know what to do to get to the ground.

Shoot for 5 reps on each side and remember to take it nice and slow.  No rushing this movement.

Here is the step by step visual of how to do a full Turkish get-up.

turkish get up set up with dumbbell
half turkish get up
Turkish Getup Step 6
Turkish stand
Turkish Getup Step 8
Turkish Getup Step 9
Turkish Getup Step 10
Turkish Getup Step 11
Turkish Getup Step 12
turkish get-up step final

And that my friends, is how to do a Turkish get-up.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Muscles Are Being Working During A Turkish Get-Up?

The Turkish get-up is an amazing full body movement that will work your:

  1. Shoulders
  2. Upper back
  3. Glutes
  4. Hamstrings
  5. Core
  6. Obliques
  7. Quads

How Much Weight Should I Use For A Turkish Get-Up?

When picking a dumbbell or kettlebell for a Turkish get-up, the most important thing is you can perform the exercise with perfect form.

That means your shoulders stays full extended overhead and you don't get stuck at a certain point in the exercise because the weight is too heavy.

For males, start with a 15 - 20 pound dumbbell or kettlebell. 

For females, start with a 5 - 10 pound dumbbell or kettlebell.

Increase the weight as you feel more comfortable.

How Often Should I do Turkish Get-Ups?

While you are learning the Turkish get-up it's important to get reps in practicing the movement.  Perform the exercise 2 times per week at the beginning of your workout.

Perform two rounds of 5 - 10 reps on each side and take adequate rest between rounds.


The Turkish get-up is a versatile exercise that has many benefits that translate into everyday life.

It's important that when you are learning how to do a Turkish get-up, you don't rush through it with poor mechanics.  If you stay controlled throughout the whole movement, you'll reap all the benefits.

Have fun with this movement and progress with heavier weight as you get better with it.

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