A few months ago I wrote an article about No Crunch Ab Training. This week, I’m taking that one step further by introducing you to one of the best exercises to train your core as well as your entire body. How do you do this with just one exercise?

You dominate the Turkish Get Up.

The Benefits of The Turkish Get Up

Many people see this exercise and immediately become freaked out. The exercise looks intimidating, because it appears to require a lot of steps and complicated twisting while trying to hold a heavy weight above your head. Trust me, it’s not that bad. The Turkish Get Up is one of the most effective core training exercises and here’s why:

• Highly functional movement
• Requires all the muscles in the body to work together
• Locking the weight above your head engages the core completely
• All of your “major player” muscles are engaged – specifically, the upper and lower back, glutes, quads and hamstrings
• Those major player muscles burn a lot of calories during a large movement like this one
• Improves hip mobility
• Improves hip extension
• Improves thoracic spine extension
• Challenges your brain
• Requires new movement patterns to be established

All of this may sound a bit boring, but stay with me. Just like the actual Turkish Get Up (TGU) exercise, we have to lay the foundation. That’s a great list of benefits for just one exercise.

So, on to the good stuff—how do we do it?

Master the Turkish Get Up

Breaking down the TGU is critical, because if you get tripped up on a step or two, it throws you off. Here are a few things to focus on as you learn the movement and progress:

• Start off with a light weight or none at all.
• Pause two seconds between each step of the movement – DO NOT RUSH.
• Practice in bare feet or minimalist shoes.
• Don’t be afraid to use a lighter weight on your weaker side.
• In my demonstration, I use a kettlebell. It’s the most effective way to perform the TGU, but you can also use a dumbbell if you need a lighter weight or don’t have access to a kettlebell.

I like to break down the TGU into five steps after the starting position. Here we go.

The Starting Position
• Hold a kettlebell in your right hand while lying on your back.
• Have your right knee bent and foot flat on the floor.
• Keep your right arm straight and “pack” your shoulder. This means you want to pull your shoulder blade down and back to stabilize the weight.
• Left arm is out to the side.

Step #1 – The Sit Up
• Crunch up and roll to your left elbow. Dan John teaches this as the “punch and crunch,” so I won’t try to reinvent something already awesome.
• Drive through your right heel as you rise up.
• As you get onto your left elbow, shift the weight to your left hand and come up to the sit up position with a locked left elbow and tight shoulder.

Step #2 – The Bridge
• Keep your right shoulder “packed” and push your left hand into the floor.
• Brace your abs and lift your butt and hips off the floor, keeping the feet in the same position as the previous movement.
• Keep your entire body tight.

Step #3 – The Leg Sweep
• Think of Karate Kid here if it helps, “Sweep the Leg Johnny.” (Okay, am I the only one?)
• Keep the right shoulder packed.
• Keep your chest up and lower back flat.
• Sweep your left leg all the way behind you so the left knee is touching the ground.

Step #4 – Up Tall
• This is more of a transition move, once you sweep the leg back you want to set your spine neutral
• Keep your left knee on the ground and right shoulder packed
• Set your upper body tall and tight and prepare for the final step

Step #5 – Stand Up
• From your tight kneeling position, simply push up through your right heel and come to a standing position.
• Keep the shoulder packed and abs tight.

Now from the standing position you have to repeat the process to get back to the floor. I’ll break this down into four steps.

Step #1 – Reverse Lunge
• From your standing position, step back with the left leg and rest the knee on the floor
• Keep your abs and back tight.
• Keep the right shoulder packed.

Step #2 – Hand Down
• From your lunge position, lean to the left side slightly and place your left hand on the floor.
• Lock the shoulder tight and position your weight evenly on that shoulder.
• Brace your abs.
• Pack the right shoulder.
• This will stretch your back hip, so go slowly if you’re tight.

Step #3 – Sweep the Leg
• Pack the right shoulder.
• TIghten the abs and back.
• Brace your weight on your left hand, and sweep the left leg through so it’s resting on the floor straight in front of you.
• Lower your butt slowly to the floor and stay tight.

Step #4 – The Finish
• Lower yourself from your left hand to your left elbow.
• Slowly perform a reverse sit up to get your lower and upper back onto the floor.
• Keep the right shoulder packed.
• Lie down in your starting position/

Congratulations, you’ve finished one repetition. This is a grinding exercise that takes practice and patience. Work on 2-4 repetitions per side for 3-4 sets a few times each week. Increase your weight gradually each week.