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In March 2022, Mike Aidala set a new Guinness World Record for lifting weights via Turkish getups. The 32-year-old endurance athlete and fitness coach, based in Boulder, Colorado lifted a total of 13,823-pounds in 1-hour, crushing the previous record by close to 1,000-pounds while also raising money for Mission 22 , an organization that focuses on veteran mental health and suicide prevention.
M&F sat down with Aidala to find out why the record breaker chose Turkish Getups as his torturous specialty, and soon learned the motivations and training that brought him such convincing success.
The required movement, strength, and balance required to execute a Turkish Getup will work every single muscle in your body, which is why the move has endured for centuries. It is believed that the Turkish Getup first found prominence during the reign of the Ottoman Empire in the late 13th century, as a means of strengthening its soldiers. More recently, this gruelling exercise has been picked up by the kettle bell community for its ability to provide a full body workout.
Start by lying flat on your back and then, while holding a kettlebell at full extension over your head, raise yourself until you are standing up straight. Next, while still holding the kettlebell at full extension over your head, lay down flat on your back and repeat. Turkish Getups are brutally simple but challenging to master.
Michael Aidala was born just outside of Manhattan and grew up in New York before moving to Boulder, CO. He was a talented football player in college and also competed in Olympic weightlifting competitions. His love of sports and fitness extends to strongman, marathons, stand-up paddle boarding, acrobatics and yoga. These days, he coaches clients with just as much focus on their mental durability, and their physical strength. “I work now as a performance, mental, and emotional coach,” says Aidala. “I love testing my body in all types of different ways!”
“I like the Turkish getup,” shares Aidala. “I know a lot of people don’t like it, but I like the challenge and the focus required. It really requires 3 different aspects; strength, mobility, and then focus. It is very similar to hand balancing. I do a lot of handstands and I love that mental challenge. I tried to look-up the previous world record for 1-rep, because I was lifting my bodyweight, which at the time was 205 pounds. I couldn’t find a one-rep record but I did find an hour-long Turkish Getup record and so, I figured I would try to give that one a go.
Aidala began serious training for his record attempt 10 weeks out. He broke the days down into heavy days and conditioning focussed days. The heavy days consisted of heavy getups, overhead presses, and leg exercises such as lunges and split squats. Then, his conditioning days would include endurance tests to see how long he could compete with the getups. In his first session, Aidala could barely carry out the move for 10-minutes, but by the end of his training, the athlete was confident that an hour would be doable.
In addition to lifting the kettlebell, Aidala tried his hand with a number of different objects that assisted with his training. “I’ve done it with a barbell, with a Concept2 rower, with a bike, and with a lot of my friends,” he shares. It was particularly important for Aidala to find heavy weights that he could lift while still adjusting to the harshness of the kettlebell. “It’s hard to find kettlebells that are really heavy, and also the heavy ones are so big that when you grab it, there’s a huge bell, and it took some conditioning of my forearms to get used to that abrasion. The barbell is nicer because you have the weight without the abrasion, and you just get the balance aspect.”
Unfortunately, Aidala caught Covid three weeks before the record attempt, shaving at least 1 week from his training time. He recovered and threw himself back in to training, and was able to test himself by carrying out getups for 20-minute blasts, while executing each rep in around 11-seconds. Aidala then increased the duration of these blasts, also reducing the rest times between them.
Later, Mike Aidala used the barbell until he was up to around 135 pounds as a warmup and then lowered his weight, and lifted a 97-pound kettlebell in order to feel comfortable with the awkward object. His dedication paid off because on the big day, Aidala completed 75 reps with a 97-pound kettlebell in his right hand, and 74 reps with an 88.6-pound kettlebell in his left hand, lifting a total of 13,823 pounds in one hour as officially recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records. “I had not done a full hour until the day,” says Aidala. “The longest I went in training was maybe 45 minutes, and I felt really good after that. But I tried to taper off to make sure that I was prepared for the actual day.”
There’s no doubting that Aidala intends to push himself further in the future. His Turkish Getup record came as the result of his desire to raise awareness around mental health and suicide prevention, and proceeds were raised in aid of Mission 22 as a tribute to his own grandfather; a Vietnam war veteran who tragically took his own life.
In addition to his own highly laudable work, addressing the emotional as well as the physical with his clients, Mike Aidala has also partnered with the men’s activewear label Ten Thousand to raise further awareness of these important issues. This passionate coach is intent on inspiring people to strive for their own wins and successes, each day, no matter how large or small they may seem.
Pushing himself to the max once again, Aidala’s next feat will involve an 80-mile paddleboard crossing from the Bahamas to Florida in late June, in the shark infested waters of the Gulfstream!
“I know that there is a lot of stigma around talking about how you feel and what you’re thinking,” says Aidala. “I know that guys resonate a lot with physical challenges, so I try to use my physicality as a way to impart those larger messages. Part of my job as a coach is to facilitate different introspective practices for men, and I wanted to use this as a way to show them that you can do things that might seem impossible.” Now here’s a coach that leads by example!