Author, fitness model, and trainer Kirk Charles, NASM-CPT CES, knows that as you get older, life can get more complicated. But that shouldn’t prevent you from being on top of your game. He’ll help to answer the tough training questions that come with age so you too can be Fit Beyond 40.
The Turkish getup has always been one of my favorite movements. It requires total body mobility, in addition to total body strength and balance. If there’s a weakness anywhere in your body, this move will expose it, especially in men over 40.
Over the years, I’ve had only a handful of clients who could do it properly. Those who couldn’t were limited by ankle, knee, hip, wrist, or shoulder issues. In those situations, it’s better not to force your body through a full getup; even if you do pull it off, you’ll be surviving on compensations instead of the true muscle you need.
But that doesn’t mean you need to ditch the getup entirely. While you work to build better mobility and stability in your other joints, you can work through the three-step getup, a terrific exercise for all-around core strength and shoulder stability in its own right. You’ll get to train your abs and glutes to work as a unit while avoiding the challenging hip and shoulder positions that arrive during the latter stages of the getup. I’ve found that these beginning steps of the getup to be a great core exercise that is challenging enough for most older men.
Eventually, you’ll want to try to learn to do the full Turkish getup. Crazy as it may sound, as we age and lose strength and mobility, it gets harder and harder to get up from the ground. The Turkish getup offers you a way to protect this ability. And the first three steps of the move are your starting point.
To set up, find a light dumbbell or kettlebell to test out the move. Start by lying on your back on the floor. Hold the load in your right hand and bend your right knee driving your right heel into the ground. Extend your left arm out to the side at about 45 degrees, with your palm flat on the floor. Lastly, press the load up toward the ceiling. Before starting with the exercise, keep in mind your right arm should always be pointing straight toward the ceiling, and your eyes should always look at the weight.
The first movement is to lift your upper body off the floor by squeezing your abs, while leaning on your left elbow for leverage. Next extend your left elbow to lift your body more upright off the floor while leaning on your left hand for leverage. The last move is to squeeze your glutes to lift your hips off the floor as high as possible. Don’t archyour back to get there; just squeeze your glutes and abs tightly.
There should be a straight line from your left foot, through left leg and your hips, to your left shoulder. Hold this position for five seconds. Then lower your body back to the floor in reverse order. That’s one repetition.
As you will quickly see, this partial getup requires shoulder, hip and wrist mobility. It also requires arm, shoulder, ab, and glute strength. Best of all, you’re prepping your body for the full Turkish getup; master this three-step version before progressing onto the full move. And understand that there’s plenty of challenge in this three-step getup, too. Start conservatively, four sets of 6 to 8 reps per side, and really attack that 5-second isometric hold at the top of each rep.
The biggest concern I’ve had from clients with the modified version is wrist pain in the grounded hand. You’re basically supporting most of your upper body weight on that wrist with the isometric hold, which puts extra pressure on it. If you feel wrist tightness, back off three-step getups as well, and focus on other core moves.
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