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Are Turkish Get Ups Useless

Recently there has been a chat about the Turkish Get Up

Many coaches are set against it.

Most think it's over rated

Some think it'll cure cancer 

But most recently has been Mike Israetel from Renaissance Periodisation speaking about how he even views a coaches value by how they use the Get Up and says for his sport of BJJ it is completely useless.

Is he right?

He's not wrong, but there's a lot more to the story.

Mike refers to the “tactical stand up” in BJJ, a move common across the various Ju Jitsu based practices. 

The actions done during the Get Up that take us from sitting on our bum to standing are very similar as usually taught.

And here is where Mike is spot on.

Because a lift resembles a sporting application does not mean it is going to help the sporting application. 

We have seen this proven time and again in other sports.

Eric Cressey an American strength coach special in training professional baseball players talks about weighted baseballs.

A baseball is 5oz.

To improve throwing power, he will have players use up to 11oz.

He states in a 2009 article talking about this, he does 3 throws each at three different weights topping out at 11oz then finishing the session with the regular ball.

He also reduces the distance thrown by throwing into a net for safety reasons.

Why stop at 11oz?

11 is no magic number and I've no idea how Cressey arrived at it or if he has subsequently changed. 

But at some point the athlete will change their technique to throw the heavier ball.

Same with resisted sprints. 

We often have athletes sprint dragging a sled, a parachute,  even a partner.

But there is still a tipping point where the load becomes too much and the athlete (unknowingly) changes their mechanics.

Now, those two examples are about loading the actual movement we're training. 

And still we see how we can run into problems. 

What about an exercise that happens by some coincidence or maybe design, to resemble a sporting movement?

As in the Tactical Get Up in grappling and the Turkish Get Up in lifting 

Now we have to consider force vectors, or to simplify it, the direction of force. 

If you're going to stand up in a grappling context, first,  very few people actually stick to the Tactical Get up method, and two you're not standing up under load, the other guy is far enough away that you have time to attempt to stand.

So that's that argument finished. 

But does this render the Get Up a useless exercise?

Oh hell no!

In fact, Eric Cressey who I mention earlier uses them with his pro baseball players. 

Would he use a useless exercise with million dollar athletes?

Of course not.

Baseball pitchers arguably place more stress on their shoulder tissues than just about any other athlete. So anyone training these athletes must understand shoulder health and care.

And this is exactly where the Turkish Get Up comes in.

Done well, with appropriate load and form, it is one of the key movements I give people in shoulder rehab.

What other sport has a reputation for ruining shoulders?

Well, BJJ of course.

So does a top tier shoulder health exercise belong in a BJJ players training arsenal?


They may benefit more from half Get Ups, just to the seated position,  maybe bottoms up Get Ups with the kettlebell upside down than from the full lift.

So how should we use Get Ups in a program?

We can use them early as a primer. I like them before upper body work, they prime my shoulders for heavy pressing.

You can do them mid training,  warmed up enough use decent load, not too fatigued to make it dangerous. 

Or you can end with them as a kind of loaded mobility drill.

If coming back from shoulder injury,  they become your upper body push for a while.

Do them once per week or do them multiple times per week.

There really aren't any hard and fast rules on the exercise.

Unlike the squat and Olympic variants, they haven't been studied every which way from Sunday, which is a shame.

Just don't over play their value or dismiss them as a circus trick (which if you look up acrobalance acts, it actually is)

Use them as you would any other movement 

Use them as the answer to a problem.

And if the problem calls for a different answer, well do that instead. 


Dave Hedges

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