The Turkish Get-up: No Hands?? NO PROBLEM!

Last weekend Eric and I traveled to New York City to teach a Kettlebell Fundamentals Workshop at New York Sports Medicine (NYSM) and Physical Therapy.


 Tony Forza, Me, Luke Bongiorno, Leonidas Scantalides, Eric Gahan

We taught the kettlebell dead-lift, kettlebell swing, goblet squat, and Turkish get-up to a mixed group of Physical Therapists, NYSM patients, and even some non-clinicians outside of NYSM such as my Aunt Paula and Cousin Madeleine and Iron Body Studios’ online training clients.


It was so unique to have physical therapists, patients, and non-clinicians together in the same room learning together.  Everyone seemed to benefit in a different, yet equally positive way. Physical therapists learned how they could apply the kettlebell as a tool and the movements we taught within the rehabilitation setting and to help bridge the gap for their patients from rehab to training. Patients learned how they could ease themselves back into training safely, and effectively again without fear of injury. Non-clinicians, and non-patients learned how they could enhance their exercise routine with kettlebell training.

It was amazing to see the group’s transformation and excitement build over the course of the four-hour workshop.

While we were in New York City we had a full schedule of visiting colleagues, friends, clients, and family, from spending the weekend with my brother…


To lunch with my Aunt and Cousin…


To visiting our friends at Mark Fisher Fitness…

IMG_0769Me, Matt Wilson, Eric Gahan, Brian Patrick Murphy, Leonidas Scantalides 

I even had the opportunity to stop by Catalyst S.P.O.R.T to train my distance coaching client (and friend and colleague) Kathy Dooley, and see her very own brand new facility for the first time!


When I met with Kathy I taught her the double kettlebell or no hands Turkish get-up. This is an advanced variation of the get-up that is typically used in the Armed Forces to help military people learn how to get up without hands while carrying artillery overhead, while also having the ability to keep their eyes on the enemy and/or have the ability to keep their awareness and watch for danger.

I taught this variation to Kathy because she has been dealing with some discomfort and pain in her right arm with certain movements. She is seeing a specialist for the pain, and as her coach it is my job to make sure that she can continue to train, pain free, by avoiding movements that cause her pain so that she can continue to work towards her goals while she heals.

One of the movements that has been causing her pain is the part of the get-up when she comes up to her hand and posts for the leg sweep; both on the way up and on the way down.

Before I met with Kathy last Friday, over the past month I had instructed her train the get-up but only to either the elbow or to the hand so that she could continue to train this movement pain free.

The get-up is one of Kathy’s most favorite movements (as it is mine 😉 ), so I thought what could possibility be better than to teach Kathy this advanced variation of the get-up.

She was thrilled!

Below are the steps, with video demonstration, to learn how to progress to training the double kettlebell or no-hands get-up.

Step One

Train the Deadman’s (called this because your arm position makes you look like a zombie) or Double Get-up Sit-up. Practice this movement bodyweight first.

Within this sit-up you initiate the movement with almost a McGill Curl Up except your arms are straight above your torso instead of behind your back.

  • Lay flat on your back and make an X with your body so that your legs are positioned right outside of your hips.
  • Move your arms so that they are straight above your torso, fingers pointing straight to the ceiling.
  • As mentioned previously, with your arms straight above your torso, initiate the sit-up with a McGill Curl Up.
  • After you sit up, hold that brace, engage your glutes and quads, flex your feet, drive through your heels and then move through your hip hinge with a stiff spine to sit up.  In the video below you will see how my legs push forward as I move through my hips and drive through my heels.
  • As you sit up, drive your fingers straight to the ceiling and bring your ears between your biceps.


Do not let your arms fall forward and pull you up with momentum.


OPTION: You can add a dowel while practicing this movement if you need a target to help you keep your arms from falling forward.


Again, do not let your arms fall forward and pull you up with momentum.


Practice the Deadman’s sit-up in your training for a few weeks, two times per week. Start with 3 sets of 5 repetitions and then build up to 3 sets of 10 repetitions. When that tenth repetition on the third set is easy and you can still maintain your form perfectly, then start to load it with weight.

Step Two

Load the Deadman’s or Double Get-up Sit-up.

Start with a REALLY light weight in each hand, like 4kg (10lbs) kettlebells. Or if that is too much, you can even use one 10lb barbell plate and hold it just as you were holding the dowel.

Below I demonstrate with two kettlebells. Notice that my arms do not fall forward and I do not pull myself up with momentum. I sit up with an abdominal brace and by moving through my hips.


You can also practice this movement with just one kettlebell in one hand. Make sure to switch sides if you do this.

Practice the loaded Deadman’s sit-up in your training for a few weeks, two times per week. Start with 3 sets of 3 repetitions and then build up to 3 sets of 5 repetitions with your starting weight.

If you are training one side at a time with one kettlebell, do 3 sets, 3 repetitions with the kettlebell in the right hand, then 3 repetitions with the kettlebell in the left hand. Build up to 3 sets, 5 repetitions right side, 5 repetitions left side.

When that fifth repetition on the third set is easy and you can still maintain your form perfectly, then you can raise weight of the load and/or start to train the full double kettlebell Turkish get-up.

Step Three

Practice the full no hands or double Turkish get-up bodyweight first before you load it.

  • Start the movement with the Deadman’s sit-up.
  • Then sweep both legs around to one side of your body by bending your legs so that you are sitting on one hip.
  • From there, come up to a tall kneeling position.
  • Your arms are still straight above your head.
  • Move on leg in front of you so that you move from tall kneeling to a half kneeling position.
  • Stand up just like you would in a tradition Turkish get-up except that both arms are overhead instead of just one arm.
  • When you come back down you will reverse everything.
  • Drop step lunge down to half kneeling.
  • Come to tall kneeling.
  • Sit to one side of your body so that you are sitting on one hip.
  • Sweep your legs from a bent position to straight out in front of you resuming the finish position of your deadman’s situp.
  • Slowly roll yourself down to lying down; arms are still straight up above your torso.
  • Lower your arms to the rack position.

Below I demonstrate the no hands/double kettlebell get-up with one kettlebell:

Right Side

Left Side

Below I demonstrate the no hands/double kettlebell get-up with two kettlebells:

Work in the no hands/double kettlebell get-up into your training program once per week, along with training traditional Turkish get-ups on other days during the week.  Keep the training load to 10 repetitions total no hands/double kettlebell get-up per session.

Note: You will see when people attempt a max effort with the double kettlebell get-up that they will not initiate the movement with the deadman’s sit-up.  Instead they will initiate the movement with a knee tuck, to a kip, roll and sit-up to the finish position of the deadman’s sit-up.  This is because, since it is a max effort, e.g. two 20kg (44lbs – total 88lbs) kettlebells, it is very difficult to roll through a sit-up with that much weight overhead.  Click HERE for a good example of this movement.

Some important things to keep in mind while you prepare to train this advanced movement:

  • This is an ADVANCED variation of the get-up so please make sure to learn and practice the traditional Turkish get-up before you venture into learning the no hands/double kettlebell Turkish get-up.
  • Practice the movement bodyweight until you feel comfortable with the coordination of the movement before you load it.
  • When selecting a weight for this variation of the get-up, select a weight that is 50% or LESS of the max weight that you use for your traditional Turkish get-up.

For example, my max traditional Turkish get-up is 30kg (66lbs), I discovered that my max no-hands, single kettlebell get-up on my right side is 16kg (35lbs) and on my left side it is 14kg (30lbs). I am comfortable regularly training 12-14kg on each side. My max double kettlebell Turkish get-up is with a 12kg (26lbs) in each hand for a total weight of 24kg (53lbs). I am comfortable regularly training 10kg (22lbs) in each hand for a total load of 20kg (44lbs).

  • Do not try to be a hero. Focus on the mastering the difficulty of the movement, not trying to max out the load.
  • The get-up is a fantastic way to:
    1. Identify asymmetries; and
    2. Correct these asymmetries. The no hands get-up takes this to a whole other level in terms of both coordination of movement and load (see my max weights above for the single kettlebell no-hands get-up as an example).
  • This movement will SMOKE your abs. My abs were so sore on Saturday after teaching this to Kathy.
  • The Turkish get-up is indeed Turkish.

I once taught it to a Turkish client and she said, “This is not Turkish!”

I laughed and then explained to her, that actually, yes it is. Turkish wrestlers used to train this movement in order to build strength.

Her response, “Yes, that does sound like something Turkish wrestlers would do…”

This movement is challenging but A LOT of fun! So train safe and ENJOY!!


Join me for my workshop I Am Not Afraid To Lift!

Coming to Columbus, Ohio on March 21, 2015 and Albuquerque, New Mexico on April 18, 2015.

Read more and register HERE.

Working towards a goal of a pull-up? Sign up for my Attack The Bar Pull-up Program on; Level I and Level II currently available.

Learn more HERE.

3 Comments on “The Turkish Get-up: No Hands?? NO PROBLEM!

  1. Artemis. Great post, as usual. I appreciate the thoroughness of information. Especially your break down of max weight-I am no where near your weight ability, though I am experiencing an asymmetry strengthening and leveling out, so when you mentioned that, I zeroed right into it. I love the sustainable, slow and steady approach you (and Eric) use, while demonstrating great form. I feel gratitude for the slowing down of my training, of stepping out of training with variety and into training movement patterns and working with progression. You are teaching me more than you know. Right on.

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