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Kettlebell deconstruction of the roll to elbow in order to get up.

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Harald Motz

Level 8 Valued Member
After yesterdays form check on @Ryan T get ups I was pondering and practicing with my new heavy bells ("heavy weight is instructive" states Gray Cook. There is nothing like a big ball of iron over your head to teach you about physics. You will instinctively know how you had better place your foot or hand just so - or else. S&S page 37) on the crucial part of the get up: the roll to elbow.

This stage frequently gets messy mostly when rushed through it: "If you are unable to do a non ballistic movement slowly you are hiding something" (S&S page 47).

In my opinion, this stage can be strong and controlled even with a very heavy weight with almost no upcoming of the straight leg. I think there is a sequence:

first, foot placement of the bent leg: near to the butt (to the weight) and away from the butt (outwards) (hope that makes sense: first moving the heel of the bent leg towards the butt, then outward away from it) gives the best leverage
second, placement of the free arm: 45 degrees works. For light(er) weight's. The leverage is not ideal, one can not roll to the side very good, the height the torso must travel is kind of high.

In general I have 90 degrees, which I find I can better roll to the side and can activate my pulling muscles better, as have a contact point more towards the inner part of the elbow bone as opposed to the tip of the elbow. Also the height my Torso must rise is much lower. When The weight gets really heavy, my arm is almost extended, but I can then pull with the arm very strongly.

Then I have a sequencing: I first push with my bent leg strongly (and guide the kettlebell just slightly to the straight leg direction) but not jerky to get my torso rolling to the side, I feel it helps to rotate the straight leg foot to the side, to get a bit on the outer side of the hip (that prevents also the log to pop up, as when it wants to, it has to pop rather to the side then).
Second, when the torso is rolling I drive my mentioned contact point into the floor as I intend, to pull my elbow towards the body.
My shoulder always stays packed, my kettlebell arm always stays locked my straight leg only has a hint of popping.

Harald Motz on Instagram: “71,7kg #krafttraum #getup #oldtimelift #artoflifting”
this was so far my heaviest get up with a 71,4kg dumbbell.
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Harald Motz

Level 8 Valued Member
There is actually so much going on only on this stage of the get up. These are just my observations and I am dealing with the get up constantly over the years and will so. It feels as I only scratched on the surface, as describing words are not the movement itself. But eventually everything can be deconstructed ad nauseam, what is practically helpful are a few clear important executable cues. Ramblings.

Steve W.

Level 8 Valued Member
I have no interest in the get up as an exercise and no comment on the technical observations in @Harald Motz's posts.

However, I loved reading them.

Louis Simmons reportedly once said of Pavel that he "reverse engineered what the strongest do naturally." Here we have a very strong practitioner in Harald reverse engineering what he does and has learned, deconstructing it to try to make it accessible to others, and generously sharing it with the community, just as he has done with his A+A&A experiences.

Thank you, Harald.


Level 6 Valued Member
And now named, the Terminator Get Up.
Insightful ramblings as usual Harald.
There is a rolling Feldenkrais lesson that I found really helpful in feeling the sequence/pattern what you describe. Really interesting that sequences can be deconstructed, reversed, isolated and picked apart and put back together again.
Even more so with 60kgs of skullcrushing iron with gravity waiting for an opportunity to do its stuff!


Level 5 Valued Member
Thank you for this detailed description. The weights you are moving are so heavy, I cannot even begin to imagine the feeling of being under them in the getup. But I see the same pattern with other elite lifters - once you get into ridiculously heavy stratosphere, be it in squats, deadligts or getups here, the usual rules need to be changed.


Level 9 Valued Member
Excellent points all around, especially about the free arm being closer to 90deg than 45deg. That makes a big difference. In my mind the so-called “make a mountain” phase has two distinct parts:

Roll. Then pull.

As I talk myself through, Roll as if entering an arm bar with the free arm close to 90deg. Drive through the bent leg foot (placed near the butt) and hips for this, primarily. Roll until almost on the side of the torso. One could pause here briefly.

Then Pull. The free arm lat engages to drive through the free arm elbow and hand (palm down). This is further aided by the bent leg foot and hips. It should take you up to be resting on the elbow now, the top of “the mountain.”

It is a cue I have used many times as a flight instructor to teach the entry of a certain maneuver, and sometime this year I realized it applied to the getup.

Roll. Then Pull.

Bret S.

Level 8 Valued Member
@Harald Motz I noticed on the get down to the elbow and subsequent roll to the floor you slide the arm out to transition from the elbow and then down to your side and finally roll gently to the floor. In this video I'm using a 40k. It's about 3 weeks before my SFG cert. and 2 weeks after contracting the flu. I had to check my power and was happy to still have some.
Anyway at the cert I was corrected to lower the arm from 90 degrees to 45, also was told not to slide the arm on the get down. Although I stick with the SF protocol it's not where I feel strongest. Hence my interest in your form as it's my preferred form as well.

Edit: My apologies for the poor video quality and editing..
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Harald Motz

Level 8 Valued Member
I noticed on the get down to the elbow and subsequent roll to the floor you slide the arm out to transition from the elbow and then down to your side and finally roll gently to the floor.
eventually I end up in 90 degrees angle. when finally rolling from the elbow to the ground I intend to push the ground away and my extended kettlebell arm I retract into my shoulder sockets using the lats. I have to create lots of tension to roll down gently.

When the elbow is to near to the body, there is just not enough leverage. Then while rolling to the elbow, the shoulder can not otherwise then to shrug up.

Roll. Then Pull.
That's a great cue.


Level 7 Valued Member
My roll to elbow with heavy get ups has been better since emulating Haralds style. The StrongFirst standard may need a heavy get up addendum

Caleb McCain

Level 4 Valued Member
I am still thinking about elements of this post; however, I incorporated just one element / cue that Mr. Motz discusses (the 90 degree arm) and my roll up was much more solid.

Many thanks.

Brett Jones

StrongFirst Director of Education
Master Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
Beast Tamer
First - a strong Get-up by Harald
A couple of notes -
1) the 90 degree angle at the start typically puts the arm/shoulder in a very overextended position once you get to the elbow - not all limb lengths and shoulders will tolerate this and it reduces the "stability" needed to perform the roll to elbow
2) "over tucking" the bent leg at the start places you in a position of collapse and a large degree of internal rotation at the hip (note that Harald ends up in a "hurdlers stretch" position once at the hand) - again not all hips and bodies will be able to do this (physically impossible for me)
3) sliding the arm on the decent - acceptable if the surface allows for it (horse stall mats and other flooring does not
Here is a 60kg bent press and Get-up from 2009 -
First time touching a 60 kg - not pretty but got them both done.
Note I use a similar strategy on this type of heavy get-up - arm closer to 90 degrees on the roll and sliding out on the decent
But this is when an exercise transitions into a "lift" - up to the 44 kg (heaviest kb at home) my elbow is at 45 degrees or so to the body etc....

There are many "forms" to the Get-up
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