Kettlebell Getup Progressions

The Getup also known as the “Turkish Getup” or “TGU” is a fantastic exercise for strengthening fundamental movement patterns and building resilient shoulders. If you’re unfamiliar with the movement you can find a great video demonstration here [ https://youtu.be/l5qB0nILpko?t=4m39s ]

One way to progress the getup is to just get stronger and use a heavier weight, but that takes time… as it should.  When the weight gets heavy and you are finding it takes longer and longer to transition your getups to a heavier kettlebell, one way to keep getting stronger with the same kettlebell is to find ways to increase difficulty that don’t involve using a heavier bell.

Here is a six step progression of mine to make the getup more challenging and more interesting while working your way towards using a heavier weight.

Photo of 48kg (106lb) Getup

  • STAGE   I:  Partial Getups from the ground up [and or or] top down.
    A partial getup is anything shy of a full repetition. Depending on what version of the getup you practice you can have as many as 14-steps.  Because there are so many different ways to perform partial getups I like to keep things simple and recommend sets based on time instead of reps for the partial getup.
    Goal: 5 sets per arm lasting at least 30-seconds each and ultimately building up to 1 full getup per arm.Example: If you are performing partial getups to the elbow it’s common to build up to 3 or more reps in 30 seconds. Continually try to get closer and closer to completing a full repetition.
  • STAGE  II: Full Getups Singles from the ground up, then back down.
    Goal: 3 to 5 reps per arm.
  • STAGE III: Full Reverse Getup Singles (from standing, down, then back up) switching hands without setting the bell down.
    The goal is to perform one per arm without setting the bell down. Set the bell down if necessary between sets and perform 3 to 5 sets. There main reason the reverse getup is harder is simple, you must find a way to get the bell into an overhead lockout before you even begin your getup.  If you do one reverse getup per arm without setting the bell down, you dramatically increase the difficulty. Enjoy.
    Goal: 3 to 5 reps per arm.
  • STAGE IV: Continuous Getups (two or more consecutive reps per arm without setting the bell down) set the bell down when switching arms.
    Goal: 2 to 5 continuous reps per arm.
  • STAGE V: Continuous Reverse Getups (two or more consecutive reps per arm without setting the bell down), then switch hands while standing without setting the bell down.
    Goal: 3 to 5 sets of 2 to 5 continuous reverse reps per arm.
  • STAGE VI: Start over with a heavier weight. ;]

There you have it, six progressions to take you from one kettlebell to the next.


If you’re interested in learning how to safely and effectively perform the getup consider our one-day SFG Kettlebell User Course on July 19th in Omaha, NE.  [ READ MORE]

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