7 Top Turkish Get-up Alternatives

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Turkish get-ups can offer many benefits but you may want other options. What are some alternatives to Turkish get-ups with similar benefits?

Turkish get-ups are an exercise where you get off the ground in a specific step sequence with one arm in the air. Typically this arm is holding a kettlebell, sometimes a dumbbell or other weight.

Some of the Turkish get-up benefits include strengthening your shoulder, core, leg, traps, and a variety of upper back muscles, improving mobility, improving balance and coordination, etc.

Whether you don’t enjoy Turkish get-ups, you want to focus more on specific muscles, or you want an alternative for any other reason, these alternatives to Turkish get-ups can offer you some of the same benefits.

Keep in mind that the Turkish get-up is an exercise that covers many bases to some extent. A single exercise often does not cover all of these same areas.

Also remember that implementing these alternatives can offer benefits but like any exercise, there is always some risk of injury. Implement a good technique to keep your injury risk low. When in doubt talk to an expert.

1. Bodyweight get-ups

This first Turkish get-up alternative has a few different variations. To do one type of bodyweight get-ups take the following step:

  1. Sit straight up on the ground with both of your legs stretched and pointing forward. Keep your hands on your lap for now.
  2. Put one hand right beside and behind you. Put the foot of the opposite side flat on the ground as close to your hips as comfortable.
  3. Raise your hips and as you get high move the leg that was stretched in the previous step between the support leg and arm. Put the foot right next to the hand.
  4. Raise your hand off the ground and stand up.

Bodyweight get-ups can be a substitute for Turkish get-ups if holding a weight above you or the shoulder angle is too challenging.

This exercise is mostly beneficial for improving mobility, coordination, and balance. For muscle strength, you will have to choose other exercises.

2. Single arm overhead lunges

For the next exercise you preferably have some type of weight like a dumbbell or kettlebell. Bodyweight could work too but this is less of a substitute for Turkish get-ups.

To do a single arm overhead lunge with a dumbbell take the following steps:

  1. Stand up straight with your feet at more or less shoulder width. Hold one dumbbell in one hand with the arm of that side slightly less than stretched above your head. Keep your arm in this position throughout the exercise.
  2. Take a big step forward so that you get into a position where both of your knees are at a 90-degree angle. Your front foot should be flat on the ground, your back foot should only touch the ground with the ball of the foot (front).
  3. Move your back foot forward and get into the previous position. Make sure you use your front leg muscles to move upward and not the momentum of your back foot.
  4. Repeat the same movement with your other leg backward.
  5. Repeat the same number of repetitions with your other arm up in the air.

Single arm overhead lunges resemble Turkish get-ups in that they train shoulder, core, balance, coordination, and leg strength. One downside is that this exercise does not train mobility to the same extent as the Turkish get-up.

3. Wood chop exercise

For the wood chop exercise you will need some type of suited resistance.

A dumbbell or other free weights like a kettlebell, sandbags, medicine ball, etc. are great but you can definitely also use resistance bands at home or a cable machine in the (home) gym.

To do a wood chop with a dumbbell take the following steps:

  1. Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart. Let your arms with the dumbbell in your arms hang down for now.
  2. Bring up the dumbbell to one side while keeping your arms slightly less than stretched. If needed you can turn your hips too. For this, you will likely need to lift the heel of one foot off the ground.
  3. Swing the dumbbell down and to the other side, again keeping your arms slightly less than stretched. Make sure you can still control the weight at the bottom of the movement. Again you can twist your hips if needed.

Make sure you don’t twist too far and keep your back straight to avoid any injuries.

Especially if you have a sensitive back you want to turn your hips to avoid twisting your spine too far. Even then, this Turkish get-up alternative is not for everyone.

The wood chop exercise is mostly for training some of the same core muscles as the muscles used in Turkish get-ups. On top of that, you get a certain amount of shoulder and upper back training.

How to do a wood chop exercise

4. Single leg balance board

Balance boards are a piece of fitness equipment that can be described as an unbalanced surface. You can use it in a wide variety of exercises if you are interested in a Turkish get-up alternative that is mostly focused on improving balance and coordination.

If you are interested in building a lot of shoulder, leg, core, and back muscle and mobility, balance boards are generally not the best piece of fitness tool.

A simple exercise you can do is standing on one leg on the balance board. The goal is to stand on the balance board without having the edges touch the ground. By focusing your eyes on a static object and using your arms, balancing can become easier.

Make sure you can stand on one leg on the regular ground before trying out this exercise. When first trying out this exercise you may want to hold something for balance.

Balance board 1 leg balance exercise gif

5. Cuban presses

In theory you can use other weights, but for Cuban presses you preferably have a pair of dumbbells. Once you have that, to do a Cuban press take the following steps:

  1. Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand right in front of you with your arms hanging down and hand palms towards your body.
  2. Move the dumbbells upward in a controlled motion by raising your upper arms until your upper arms are horizontal or slightly lower. Keep the dumbbells close to your body throughout the upward movement.
  3. Keep your upper arms at the same angle while rotating them so that the dumbbells move upward.
  4. Slowly move up the dumbbells until your arms are slightly less than stretched.
  5. Repeat the same steps in reverse.

Cuban presses are a challenging exercise that engages all three parts of the deltoids (main shoulder muscle) and rotator cuff muscles. Additionally, your core muscles have to work to a certain extent to keep your body straight.

This exercise can be a great alternative to Turkish get-ups when it comes to the shoulder workout part.

On the other hand, you do not get the same leg, core, and back muscle training. The mobility, balance, and coordination training are rather lacking too.

How to do a Cuban press

6. Overhead farmer’s walk

A farmer’s walk is a strength training exercise where you simply pick up two dumbbells from the ground and walk a certain distance or time. The overhead version requires you to point your arms up.

Make sure you keep your posture upright and your palms facing your body.

You can do a two-handed version to keep the focus on trap and shoulder muscles. Another option is the single arm overhead farmer’s walk to engage your core muscles more and make it a closer alternative to the Turkish get-up.

Things the overhead farmer’s walk does not train a lot include mobility and leg muscles.

7. Windmills

To do a windmill take the following steps:

  1. Stand up straight with your feet at about shoulder width or slightly wider apart.
  2. Point one arm vertically up in the air. If you want hold a weight in the hand on this side.
  3. Slowly bend forward/sideways and move the hand of the other arm to the foot of the same side as far as comfortable. Keep your back straight and the other arm pointing up vertically.
  4. Move back into the position of step 2 in a controlled motion.
  5. Repeat the same number of repetitions on the other side.

You can also do windmills with a kettlebell or other weights in your hands.

Windmills can be a good substitute for Turkish get-ups. This exercise engages shoulders, core, hip mobility, balance, and coordination in similar ways.

On the other hand, you do not get the same leg workout and knee mobility training as the Turkish get-up.

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.