Caveman College Presents: The Turkish Get-Up

Here is a little video we put together showing you a classic Turkish Get Up (TGU) after a major storm crushed a tree in Max’s backyard (giving us ample natural resources to perform the TGU!):

TGUs can be used in a variety of different workouts. The TGU is a great way to rehab the shoulder stabilizer muscles if you’ve had a shoulder injury or are looking to strengthen the shoulder muscles (superspinatus, infraspinatus, deltoid, and rhomboid major and minor).

But the TGU is deeper than that; it is a total body exercise. We will examine the major muscle-groups that the TGU works below.


The TGU attacks your core without remorse. Without engaging your core to help stabilize your body during this exercise, the movement is extremely difficult. You would be forced to resort to singular shoulder strength and the weight will become too much for your shoulder alone. You constantly fire your core stabilizer muscles in order to keep the kettle-bell or dumbbell above your head.

Neuromuscular Coordination:

White Sands says that with somewhat heavy weight hanging above your head, when you begin to move the rest of your body, you are learning to move your body in space while manipulating different muscles all at the same time. Overall coordination is important for your fitness regimen as well as in everyday life.

Functional Fitness:

The Turkish Get Up is one of the most functional fitness movements out there. Have you ever stood up from a laying down position? Ever been pinned down by a heavy weight? The Turkish Get Up is a great way to work on and improve simple, everyday movements, such as getting yourself out of bed in the morning.


As I mentioned above, the TGU is a great way to strengthen your shoulder. The shoulder is engaged every second you do this exercise especially because you move between different planes and put the shoulder in different positions. Using a kettle-bell or even a sandbag will prove much more difficult than using a dumbbell as you have to manipulate the weight a bit more to keep it steady above you.


Intermediate Workouts Involving the TGU (all workouts can be scaled down or up in weight):

  • 30 TGU’s for time (switch sides each rep) 50lb kettle-bell or 45lb dumbbell
  • 5 rounds for time: 5 TGU’s (30lb kettle-bell or 30lb dumbbell), 10 pushups (or knee-pushups)
  • 3 rounds for time: 10 TGU’s, 10 pull-ups
  • 3 rounds for time: 5 TGU’s, 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups
  • 3 rounds for time: 10 TGU’s, run 400 meters
Challenge Workout:
For time, using a 50lb kettle-bell or 50lb dumbbell (again, (all workouts can be scaled down or up in weight):
  • 21 TGUs (right arm)
  • 50 kettle-bell swings
  • 21 single arm overhead squats (left arm)
  • 50 kettle-bell swings
  • 21 single arm overhead squats (right arm)
  • 50 kettle-bell swings
  • 21 TGUs (left arm)


*Always consult a professional before attempting any recommended exercise program to avoid bodily harm, especially if you have had a previous shoulder injury.

About The Author


As a recent recent high school graduate, I've seen a lot of kids struggling with health and fitness over my years in school. I went Primal when my physical trainer helped me really focus on my physical well-being in training for my baseball career. I credit a large percentage of my health and well being on and off the baseball field to my Primal lifestyle. An idea came to the my mind to create a website where kids going into college could find great information on health and nutrition as well as functional fitness. I am extremely excited to be able to write about health in the college world, as a lot of times kids forget how to eat healthy when they go off to the college world. While we saw this as an opportunity to reach out to the college world, we also wanted this site to be a resource for people of all ages struggling with their health as a place for them to go and find great resources and information. Feel free to email me or Max at with any questions you may have. Email Josh at

8 Responses

  1. Eric
    Eric July 10, 2012 at 4:51 pm | | Reply

    Nice explanation guys! TGU’s can be a tricky move to conquer! They are one of my favorite exercises along with thrusters!

    1. Max Ungar
      Max Ungar July 10, 2012 at 4:59 pm | | Reply

      Gotta love thrusters. Although, they do take a bit more heart pumping to get through! Do you do crossfit?

      1. Eric
        Eric July 10, 2012 at 5:17 pm | | Reply

        I surely do! I’m going for my Level 1 Cert. in Sept. What about you?

        1. Max Ungar
          Max Ungar July 10, 2012 at 6:36 pm | | Reply

          I am a member at crossfit efx. I really want to get my cert soon. Hopefully I can find one that works for my schedule. Its not easy with school, baseball, etc. Were coming out with some more “crossfit” style movement posts soon!

          1. Eric
            Eric July 10, 2012 at 9:33 pm | | Reply

            Awesome! Keep up the good work! Keeping college aged kids healthy is so important! I’d love to write an article for you guys sometime. I’m a Holistic Health/Lifestyle Coach. Keep in touch!

            1. Max Ungar
              Max Ungar July 11, 2012 at 1:43 am | | Reply

              Hey Eric, We would love to have you write an article for Caveman College! Shoot us an email at !

  2. Eric
    Eric July 11, 2012 at 2:55 pm | | Reply

    Great Max! I’m on vacation right now in Key West so and then I’m working on an organic farm for two weeks so I’ll get back to you guys sometime after that! Any topic you’d like for me to consider?

    1. Max Ungar
      Max Ungar July 11, 2012 at 3:19 pm | | Reply

      Eric, sounds like a really interesting trip! Send us an email and we can talk about your post!

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