The Kettlebell Coaching Series: The Turkish Get-Up Part 3

We’re finally back… fresh off a CKI Level 1 Seminar. It’s about time we wrap up The Turkish Get-Up. We have already discussed how to perform and coach the Get-Up along with a variety of cuing tips and coaching drills (see our last 2 blogs here: Part 1 Part 2). Now we’re going to talk safety.
Logically, The Get-Up requires students to express a full range of shoulder flexion (among other things) on the kettlebell side. Well… this can get hairy for many as a limitation in shoulder flexion is common. We recommend evaluating shoulder flexion when possible before having a student perform overhead work. Many use the Function Movement Screen to determine whether or not overhead work is safe. While we like the idea in concept (of using the FMS), we are big proponents of directly measuring shoulder flexion.

How to measure shoulder flexion:

Shoulder Flexion Test

Have the student stand with their back against a wall and their heels a little less than a foot from the wall. Their head, upperback and tailbone should all be and remain in contact with the wall.

Shoulder Flexion Test 2Shoulder Flexion Test 3

From this position, have the student flex one shoulder to 90 degrees (the arm should be in front of them and at shoulder height) with a straight elbow and their thumb up. Tell them to raise their arm up until their thumb hits the wall while maintaining a straight elbow. They must maintain the aforementioned 3 points of contact on the wall. If successful, their shoulder flexion is not limited.

If they cannot reach the wall they are limited. If they reach the wall, but either bend the elbow OR extend their spine they are limited.

Why having a full range of motion (ROM) is critical:

Let’s start of by defining the term “structural load”. A structural load is a load in which the weight/kettlebell/external force is positioned in a way that allows for the joints to remain in an optimal position and for the load to be transferred further up/down the chain to the “core”. Additionally, the load is close to your center of mass. It simply comes down to how the student positions their body relative to the load. An easy example to help with this concept is to go grab a dumbbell or kettlebell. This weight should be a weight you are very comfortable and confident in holding overhead. Seriously. Go get one. Stand up and safely press the object overhead. Once overhead, position the object so that the fist is directly over the shoulder joint while maintaining a straight elbow. If your joints and spine are all neutral and your core is active, you should feel as if this weight is very manageable. Maybe even a little light. Your Lats, anterior core, and posterior core should all be wide awake and helping your maintain this position. Notice you don’t feel too much in your Delt. This is representative of a structural load. Now follow all the same steps, but then allow the weight to get a bit further in front of you and a little lower to the ground (less shoulder flexion). The farther from your body and your center of mass, the harder it is for your core to assist. In fact, go far enough forward and it begins to feel as if your Delt is on an island.  This is not a structural load. Therefore, in The Get-Up a structural load is what you want to maintain throughout.

What happens when you do overhead with bad positioning:

pav1When performing overhead work, such as Turkish Get-Up, Waiter’s Walks, Presses, or Snatches, it’s important to have a neutral spine for a variety of reasons. Maintaining a neutral spine puts the student in an optimal position to brace and maintain stability throughout the exercise. If the student has limited shoulder flexion, getting the working arm(s) into the optimal position without compromising joint position elsewhere is impossible. Specifically, extension of the spine, lateral shifting and/or rotation of the pelvis, and flexion of the elbow are all common compensations. This will logically put high levels of stress on the elbow or somewhere in the spine increasing the chances of injury.

How to Spot The Turkish Get-Up:

Knowing where you need to be any when are critical to safely spotting the Get-Up. This video will help you understand ideal position for the coach.

Time to wrap it up:
After reading our last three installments on The Turkish Get-Up you should be quite a bit more knowledgeable on the intricacies of performance, evaluating, and cuing, etc. However, in order to be an effective coach (especially in this case) it’s critical for you to master the exercise. We highly recommend performing many, many, many Get-Ups before you start coaching others. If you have any questions or anything of value to add to coaching the Turkish Get-Up please don’t hesitate to reach out to us through our website, social media, or even a call.
Next Seminar:
Saturday, 11/14/15 from 8:00am – 5:00pm at McKenna’s Gym in Fawn Grove, PA. Visit our store to register: http://www.shop.fit-edu.com $75 off until 10/14 with coupon code MCKENNA75

The Kettlebell Coaching Series: The Turkish Get-Up Part 2

In our last installment of the Kettlebell Coaching Series we addressed teaching and coaching The Half Get-Up.  We discussed how to set up, the initial steps, and some coaching fixes to correct common errors in the initial phases. In this piece, we will thoroughly cover how to make it all the way to standing and the steps to come back down.

Before we get into the coaching the next steps there are a few more points we need to make about the benefits of performing the Turkish Get-Up:

  1. Shoulder resiliency
    1. If you’re interested in improving shoulder stability in multiple planes the Get-Up should be a go to exercise. Assuming you (or your student) maintains packed shoulders (see the tips we gave here), you will improve shoulder stability in three key positions (anterior, lateral, and overhead). While many other exercises provide an opportunity to do so in one of these positions, none does in all 3.
  2.   Improved body control and awareness
    1. Not sure why? Start doing Get-Ups and you’ll experience it for yourself
  3. “Linkage”
    1. Linkage is becoming a common term used in the fitness industry by trainers and coaches. Linkage refers to the ability to link segments of the body so as to improve movement efficiency on a “global”  level. While this is an “unscientific” term it’s logical that movements/exercises that improve linkage also improve performance. In “Becoming A Supple Leopard” Kelly Starrett discusses linkage and reducing leakage. Leakage being “energy leaks” caused by a lack of linkage resulting in a loss of power production. A simple example would be failing to “pack” the shoulders and stabilize the spine when bench pressing. If your shoulder joints and spine are not in an optimal position you lose leverage and as a result power due to energy leakage.

Now to coaching the Get-Up:

Let’s start with all the steps to get to from the floor to the standing position:

Slide1

  1. Roll
  2. Press
  3. Drive to the elbow
  4. Post up onto hand
  5. High bridge
  6. Leg sweep
  7. Half kneeling
  8. Lunge up to standing

Slide1

High Bridge and Leg Sweep

If you remember, the Half Get-Up takes us to the high bridge position.  It stops us short of arguably the most challenging step in the Get-Up, the leg sweep.  Easily the most dynamic part of the exercise, the leg sweep changes our body position from prone, to kneeling, and gets our shoulder one step closer to the full overhead position.  What makes the leg sweep tricky for most is that you are reducing your points of contact with the ground from three (hand and both feet) to two (one hand and one foot) while simultaneously moving your center of mass.

It is our belief that a quality high bridge makes this step a bit easier.  Getting the hips higher in the bridge creates more space for the outstretched leg (kickstand leg) to get pulled under.  We also want to avoid dragging that leg on the ground.  If your leg gets caught up dragging on the ground there is a good chance the knee will not be positioned correctly on the floor which will negatively effect in the Half-Kneeling position.  This can make the steps to finish the move more tricky. To initiate the leg sweep, the knee must bend and the lower leg must rotate so that your pinky toe is close to the ground and your big toe is on top.  This will make the lower leg parallel to the ground on the sweep and give all the space needed to make the knee your principle connection to the ground.

Please note: Where the knee gets placed may depend slightly on limb lengths and individual anthropometrics, but generally you want to place that knee directly under the Kettlebell that is being held overhead.

Here’s how to coach from the ground to standing:

Great job! You now have a client standing up with a weight over their head. Looks like its time to get them back down.

Here’s how:

TGU DownAs you can see from the video and picture, getting back to the ground is as simple as retracing the steps you took to get to the top. Once again, it is the transition between half kneeling and high bridge that creates the greatest challenge. We love the cue “use your thigh as a guide” when having the student reach out laterally from the half kneeling position.  As we did on the way up during this transition we once again want to form a straight line of the hand, knee and foot.

One of the things that is great about the Get-Up is that every position is dependent upon the one preceding it.  You must be precise on every step to be successful.  Like most things that are worthwhile doing, it can be as draining mentally as it is physically, especially when learning the exercise.

For the sake of being crystal clear… here are the steps to go from standing to the ground

  1. Lunge to half kneeling
  2. Hand reach/windshield wiper of base leg
  3. High Bridge
  4. Lower to butt
  5. Lower to elbow
  6. Lower to back
  7. Lower the kettlebell and grasp with two hands
  8. Roll

So… shameless plug time. At Fit EDU, we pride ourselves on makes better fitness coaches. We do so by improving YOUR movement first, then developing your coach’s eye, and finally filling your coach’s toolbox with countless coaching fixes and corrective exercises. If you’re serious about helping your clients we want to work with you! Our Certified Kettlebell Instructor Seminars provide you with both a certification AND 8 CEUs for ACE, ISSA, NASM, NSCA, and 6.5 for AFAA.

West Chester University of Pennsylvania
ACAC (ACAC Staff only)
West Chester, PA
Saturday, 10/17/15 8:00am-5:00pm (please note this date is tentative)

McKenna’s Gym
Fawn Grove, PA

The Kettlebell Coaching Series: The Turkish Get Up Part 1

The Turkish Get-Up is awesome and is the best exercise your are not doing. Legend claims It’s at least 200 years old and is thought to have been created for soldiers fighting with shields and swords as a means to get from their back to a standing position when an enemy was on top of them. While its history is impressive, its training impact on training and performance is even more significant. One of the most respected professionals in our industry, Gray Cook, said “The Turkish Get-Up is the perfect example of training primitive movement patterns-from rolling over, to kneeling, to standing and reaching. The Get-Up promotes the shoulders’ stability and mobility. It improves one’s strength in many patterns by teaching the importance of linkage while eliminating strength leakage.” We can’t forget, it also provides the opportunity to functionally evaluate the right and left sides.

While it is amazing one exercise can do all the above (and more), performing and coaching this exercise can be extremely challenging. As a result, many fitness professionals either pretend it doesn’t exist or do some bastardized version they think is just as good. This 2-part series will put you in a position to understand how to perform the Get-Up AND the intricacies of coaching it.

DSC_0971An ideal place to start is with your sneaker. Yes, that’s right… your sneaker. In lieu of a kettlebell, we recommend you begin this process by balancing a sneaker on your fist. We also recommend mastering the Half Get-Up before moving the to “full” Get-Up.

The Half Get-Up is separated into 5 steps:

1: Roll

2: Press

3: Drive up to the elbow

4: Post up onto your hand

5: High bridge

Here are step-by-step instruction on teaching the half get-up:

Now it’s inevitable you will come across some issues along the way. Two very common issues to watch for are the knee on the kettlebell side going valgus at the initiation of the high bridge and shoulder packing.

Here’s one strategy to fix a valgus knee on the kettlebell side:

Here’s a great drill to use to help with shoulder packing on the kettlebell side:

Additional key item to address:

I. What to do with your head and eyes:

It’s important to look at the kettlebell through the entire half get up. However, you should begin to teach this when practicing with a sneaker. If you think about it… there is a heavy piece of iron over your head. Given the fact that you are actively moving your body beneath it, it is a really good idea to keep your focus on the kettlebell. Safety is a real concern here, especially when venturing towards “heavy” kettlebells. We’ll go over spotting in our next post.

II. Setting up after the press

Slide4

Get very, very familiar with this position if you are going to perform and/or coach get ups. Setting up correctly after the press sets the stage for the rest of the get up. If your limbs aren’t correctly aligned you might not have the leverage you’ll need to successfully perform a Get-Up. This could mean a failed attempt OR losing the kettlebell and ending up with a serious injury to your cranium.

Notice these key points:

  1. The arm on the kettlebell side is straight (elbow and wrist), the shoulder is packed, and the fist is directly above the shoulder joint.
  2. The leg on the kettlebell side is bent at the knee and the foot is just outside the width of the hip
  3. The arm on the non-kettlebell side is at a 45 degree angle relative to the torso
  4. The leg on the non-kettlebell side is straight

III. Connection with the ground:

There are two key connections to the ground that you want to move as little as possible through the get-up.

  1. The foot on the kettlebell side
    1. This foot SHOULD NOT move once you have pressed the kettlebell while on your back and set up your limbs for the drive to the elbow. Anchor it down and keep it there. This is where much of your stability will come from.
  2. The hand on the non-kettlebell side
    1. You will often see people moving this hand around before going into the high bridge. While you must externally rotate your shoulder and as a result point your fingers away from your body, DO NOT move the location of this hand in relation to your body. If you set up correctly it’s already in the best place to provide adequate stability and leverage.

IV. Shoulder Packing:

Getting your shoulder packed and staying there throughout the get up is no easy feat, but it’s critically important for your shoulder health. You have to go over the concept of shoulder packing before touching the Get-Up. Cover this concept in other exercises (deadlifts, push ups, any/all upper body pulls, etc.) before performing get ups. This is yet another reason to master the Half Get-Up before moving the to Full Get-Up. Packing your shoulders gets progressively harder the “higher’ (further into shoulder flexion) the arm. In other words, it easiest to pack your shoulders with your arms at your sides (farmer’s carry). It the hardest to pack your shoulders when you are at or near 180 degrees of shoulder flexion (waiter’s walk, pull ups, pressing, etc.).

V. Speed bumps

Treat each step in the get-up individually. In other words, think about your next step, perform the action, and then pause. Many refer to these pauses between each step as speed bumps. We reference these speed bumps in the screwdriver video. While the get-up is intended to be a beautiful and graceful set of movements it is also intended to be approached methodically and with focus. Do not blend any of the individual steps into one. You’ll get sloppy and likely increase the chances of a mistake… and remember you still have the big piece of iron over your head so mistakes can be costly.

Please recognize there are many more items to address in the get up. While many of these will be covered in our next post, we won’t address everything as there are simply too many subtle points to address when coaching this exercise. The best way to learn EVERYTHING is to attend a live seminar. If you’re interested visit our homepage to learn more about our CKI-1 Seminar at West Chester University of Pennsylvania this October. www.fit-edu.com

Hungry for more information right now? Check out the below step-by-step half get up pictures in sequential order.

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