Friday Five: The Turkish Getup with Marx Conditioning
An old-school exercise that should never have been forgotten
This might seem like an awfully odd exercise, but if you are serious about becoming stronger and not just bulking up your pecs for shirtless paddock prancing then the Turkish Getup (TGU) should be in your regular routine.
The TGU is the mechanically correct way of moving from a lying position on the floor to standing while supporting a weight overhead. It promotes functional strength conditioning of the whole body rather than isolating one muscle, the benefit being to make you a better complete machine when you are doing real-world things, like mountain biking.
Movements like this will strengthen your core, your arms and shoulders, your back, your hips and legs, but on top of that promote healthy joints, improve posture, as well as getting your heart beating faster and healthier.
This exercise requires a degree of shoulder flexibility and stability as well as grip and wrist strength. The TGU will help build all these things, but you may not have these at first so start with a very light weight, perhaps even nothing to begin with, and work up. This exercise is scaleable so start small before going big.
1. START: Lying on the floor move the weight (in your right hand) into a locked out position straight above your right shoulder. Right knee cocked, left leg straight.
2. TO THE ELBOW: Push off the right foot rolling onto your left hip and onto the left elbow. Keep a space between your ear and shoulder.
3. HALF LIFT: Straighten your left arm (keeping both elbows locked) and lift your hips of the ground, making a solid bridge with your body. Keep the core fired up.
4. HALF KNEEL: Thread left leg under you then raise your left hand off the ground until you are in a half kneeling position.
5. STAND: Take a quick shape inhale and come to a complete standing position
6.REVERSE: Rewind yourself, careful and mindful throughout all stages of the movement, to return to a lying position. Swap the weight into the other hand and mirror the moves.
Things to consider:
• Keep looking at the kettlebell except when you are in the half knee lunge position. It will help with balance and keeping your arm locked.
•Keep a vertical line overhead as you progress to the standing position.
• Keep shoulders packed and locked at all times.
• Keep your wrist straight.
• Use a lighter weight than you think. You might be strong, but if you can’t maintain perfect posture throughout the entire move then you aren’t that strong yet.
• Keep the reps low.
• Get rid of the running shoes. The cushioning in the sole of your shoe will disrupt your natural movement and heel drive. Go barefoot (if your gym allows) or use very basic shoes with minimal cushioning.
Thanks to Monika Mark of Marx Conditioning and her lovely assistants.
Friday Five is Seb Kemp’s biweekly column on tips and advice on all things mountain biking, from riding techniques, fitness and strength training to the importance of road tripping and riding with a trail dog.