Today, I am quickly going to dive into what renowned movement specialist, Gray Cook, calls “loaded yoga:” the Turkish Get-Up. The Turkish Get-up is one of our go-to exercises these days—it’s very technical, yes, but it works through so much, that teaching it to our clients usually ends up being a worthwhile priority. From a position in which both you and the weight are laying on the floor to start, the Turkish Get-up is basically a slow and deliberate way of standing up with the weight held overhead. The second half of the motion is simply returning to the floor in that same slow and deliberate fashion. Doing this works through several different postures and positions, but this would be quite a challenge for those who haven’t mastered the basics…and believe it or not, it all starts with rolling—yes, the kind they teach you when you are literally on fire and need to stop, drop, and roll. (AND NOT THE SNOOP DOG VARIETY!)
You may look pretty weird rolling around on a gym floor, but guess what, you’d be doing something that EVERYONE should be doing. It is a low threshold movement that brings both the upper and lower extremities into one working system. But why should we do it? Think of it this way. We watch elite athletes, like Olympic sprinters or football running backs, do amazing feats of athleticism all the time. But what we tend to overlook is how their movements are coordinated. Have you ever seen these athletes sprint? Simply put, the body moves in a diagonal fashion. The legs propel the body forward with reciprocal arm drive, and opposite legs move with opposite arms, hence the diagonal pattern. These diagonal patterns are present throughout all sports, and work to drive and accelerate any athlete.
At its heart, rolling is a neurological technique that teaches this diagonal patterning in its most elementary form. Yet, it is not only forgotten as we age, but throughout the strength and conditioning world. We need to get back to basics and think simple before complex. As we often say with any “traditional” weight-training exercise, throwing a load on to an already faulty movement pattern rarely allows the body to facilitate the correct stabilizers to produce good movement. In fact, doing this might bring dysfunction to threshold. But, instead of using conventional corrective exercises to “isolate the problem,” we should choose a more general approach. Here’s where rolling and the Turkish Get-up come in.
When we see a movement done wrong, we can see that it is awkward but sometimes cannot put a finger as to why. This is when a systematic approach to analyzing movement helps, like the Functional Movement Screen (FMS). From this approach, we see that we need to master low threshold movement before we tackle higher threshold performance. For example, I would like to see you walk before you run, just as I would like to see you squat with your own bodyweight before you do so with a barbell on your back.
So, let’s roll right into rolling. The neural development sequence from the FMS states that rolling is the most fundamental movement pattern one can possibly do, and it is also the first movement in the Turkish Get-up.
As you can see, we must start on a more fundamental level before progressing. Some may progress faster than others, but I’d rather start from the beginning rather than halfway in and overlook something that could potentially cause injury. It’s the same with any sport; I’m not going to put a 12 year-old kid on a team for 16 year-olds unless I am 100% confident he/she is ready.
Here are a couple of ways to incorporate rolling into your training, and to progress into the first phase of the Turkish Get-up:
BAM! And that’s all it takes to accomplish the first step of the Turkish Get-up. Just remember to master rolling first.
by Jake Roswell
Jake Roswell is a Staff Coach at Halevy Life.
Jake successfully completed NAVY Seal trials, but subsequently chose a career path focused on his primary passion, working with a variety of clients and athletes and honing his has craft as a coach at Halevy Life.
After graduating from Castleton State College, where he earned a degree in Exercise Science with a concentration in Kinesiology (while a star athlete on the school’s soccer team), he remained at Castleton to serve as one of the school’s top strength coaches.
Jake is a multi-sport athlete and has medaled in powerlifting with the USAPL.