Sure, it has an odd name. But what the Turkish get-up may lack in creative panache, it more than makes up for in effectiveness. This total-body strength move first made fashionable by old-time strongmen – you know, the ones you’ve seen in black-and-white photos with unitards and handlebar mustaches – is being resurrected by today’s powerlifters, weightlifters and even disciples of CrossFit training for its ability to build freakish strength from head to toe.

The Turkish get-up strengthens your core, all your major muscle groups, smaller stabilizers, tendons and ligaments. In addition, it improves power, flexibility and shoulder stability. And all it requires is, as the name implies, getting up from the floor in a predetermined way.

How to: Turkish Get-Up

  • Lie faceup on the floor, holding a dumbbell in your right hand. Your left hand should be out to your side.
  • Press the dumbbell straight up toward the ceiling with your right hand, directly above your shoulder. Once in position, keep your elbow locked, wrist straight and your eyes on the weight.
  • Bend your right leg, with the inside of your foot facing the floor, as you press through your left arm and raise your shoulders off the floor. The dumbbell should move straight up a few inches.
  • Once you’re balanced on your left hand and right foot, swing your left leg under your body, placing your left foot flat on the floor.
  • Press through both feet to a standing position.
  • Reverse the movement to lie back down. You can finish repping on one side (performing up to 10-12 reps) before repeating with the other arm, but alternating arms provides for a more challenging set.

This exercise is multidimensional and can arguably fit well within any workout. Since it has decided benefits for the core and shoulders (the latter via isometric contraction and control of the dumbbell as you stand), you could do it as an adjunct to delt work.

The Turkish get-up may have an unorthodox name, but there’s nothing strange about the strong results you’ll enjoy from performing it regularly.

turkish get-up
Turkish Get-Up 3 10
(each arm)
Overhead Press 4 12
Lateral Raise 3 15
Bent-Over Lateral Raise 3 15