‘Big Man’, Get Up Off the Floor with the TGU!

I just got back from a workout and had to write you all about an exercise that I am falling in love with!

It’s called the Turkish Get Up and I really believe that if implemented into your strength training program you will see some amazing gains in total body functional strength and power.

And as you will discover the longer you hang around my site, training for functional strength is the true key to basketball success. I still see way too many players going to the weight room and using smith machines, leg press machines, and shoulder press machines thinking that they are gaining some real strength. Sorry to tell you, but you are not!

Real functional strength and movement for basketball requires all of the bodies muscles working together to accomplish a task. On the court, you are always on your feet jumping, sliding, cutting, holding off defenders, catching and passing the ball, and running. Every muscle in your body is working when you receive a pass on the fast break and explode up to dunk the ball. You can’t develop this kind of true strength sitting on machines and isolating certain muscles while letting others stay supported and turned off.

Functional strength exercises use all of your major joints together; ankles, knees, hips and shoulders. They incorporate the use of your upper and lower extremities in a coordinated effort that best activates your core region. Your core is all the musculature between your shoulders and hips that controls and provides power to your limbs. When you are sitting on machines, you are effectively turning off your core.

Basketball Big Men have larger and longer levers to control and coordinate making it even more critical that total body exercises that activate and strengthen your core are included in your training.

The Turkish Get Up is just one of these exercises. It is a classic old-timers exercise that has seen a resurrection in modern day training with power lifters, weightlifters, and because of the growing popularity of the Kettlebell, with the sports performance and fitness industries. And as the name suggests, you actually start on the floor with a weight in one hand and have to use your entire body to stand up and press that weight directly overhead.

Besides this lift being a tremendous strengthener and stabilizer of your core (you will not find many lifts better than this one!) it also provides great benefits for your shoulder joint. It effectively mobilizes and stabilizes your entire shoulder girdle helping you with all of your overhead movements (shooting, rebounding, and blocking shots) while at the same time building tremendous strength. As a basketball big man what could be more important!

The move is a little complicated so as you learn it, please start with a very light weighted dumbbell or kettlebell.

  1. Start by lying on your back on the floor and with a dumbbell in your right hand, press it directly over your chest towards the ceiling, locking out your elbow. Place your left hand flat on the floor at your side. Bend your right knee and place your right foot flat on the floor.
  2. Sit up by pressing into the floor with your right foot and your left hand and elbow until you are supported on your left hand. Keep the weight locked out overhead and always look at the dumbbell.
  3. Lift your hips up off the floor and bring your left leg underneath you until you can put your left knee down to perform a 1 knee stance.
  4. From their simple stand up pressing the weight directly overhead.
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