“Strength has a greater purpose.”
The very famous words of our leader, Pavel Tsatsouline, ran through my mind over and over. I had lost my older brother to suicide the Summer of 2021 and felt a burning desire to “do something about it.” That’s when I found an organization at West Bend High School called The Youth Impact Club (YIC). This suicide prevention club works to educate high schoolers on suicide and mental health. Jackie Schmoldt created the club after losing her son to suicide in 2019. I was excited to have found a local organization that I could support and decided to use my World Record attempt as a fundraiser. The Guinness World Record (GWR) I was attempting to break was the female record for “The Heaviest Weight Lifted by Turkish Get-up in One Hour.”
Why the Get-up?
First, because I absolutely love it. Secondly, because the get-up is very symbolic. When dealing with mental illness, it becomes difficult to “get up.” Moving around under the weight of the world seems impossible, but you must just keep “getting up” for life. I wanted to help those that struggle to “get up” find the strength they need to continue to rise when the weight gets heavy—and I did. I got up 165 times in one hour with the 24kg kettlebell for a total of 3,960kg. The previous record, held by Colleen Conley, was 3,008kg.
The get-up is normally a very slow, methodical movement. StrongFirst teaches us to own each stage of the get-up and not rush through it. It normally takes me about 25-30 seconds to perform one single rep. This record was going to force me to move much more quickly. Obviously, the more reps I could complete in the hour, the higher my total score. I began training with a 20kg kettlebell without much of a plan. One Saturday morning, I set the clock for an hour and just tried to do as many get-ups as I could in that timeframe. I swiveled the kettlebell around my head so many times as I switched from right-side to left-side that my back was raw with floor burn. My knees were tender and my elbows bruised. There was a lot to learn from that first training day.
The first step to breaking a GWR is to apply for the attempt. The application process alone can take approximately 12 weeks. Once Guinness approves your application to attempt, they send you the specific guidelines. The rules for the “Heaviest Weight Lifted by Turkish Get-up in One Hour” state that the participant must begin flat on their back and raise a kettlebell using one arm directly above them. Only then may they begin to bring the leg relative to the arm used to a bent position. Uh-oh. At first, I made a few mistakes. StrongFirst teaches us to press the kettlebell up using both arms with the leg already bent. This was another difference that I was going to have to practice, so practice I did. I dedicated three days each week strictly to get-up training. One light day for speed, one heavy day for strength, and then one test-the-pace day.
The Light Day
The light training day started out simply as the practice of Guinness guidelines. Years of get-ups a certain way had created a thick habit that needed to be broken. Using no weight at all, I repeated get-up after get-up, ingraining that new pattern in my mind. Single-arm press, bend leg, get up. Repeat. Single-arm press, bend leg, get up. After hundreds of reps, a new habit formed.
This bodyweight training day was also my speed day. Since the record was an hour-long event, I tried to always train for one hour. During this light, speed day, I was doing five weightless get-ups every minute, on the minute, for 60 minutes. I could complete the reps in about 30-35 seconds (a blazing 6-7 seconds per get-up) and have about a 1:1 work-to-rest ratio.
The goal of the light day was to move as quickly as possible while following all the Guinness guidelines. The total bodyweight reps would equal 300 in an hour.
The Heavy Day
Two days later, I would train my heavy day. I used the 28kg kettlebell and completed one get-up each minute. Even minutes on the right and odd minutes on the left. The hardest part of the get-up was going to be the strict press with a single arm. The 28kg was the heaviest kettlebell that I could do numerous reps of the floor press with. I started out not being able to do an entire hour with this weight but was easily surpassing an hour after a few weeks of training. However, this heavy weight required longer rest periods, and I never went faster than one per minute. My total reps with 28kg for one hour was 60 equaling 1,680kg.
One of the lessons I learned my first day of training was that the attempt would be more successful if I didn’t have to swivel the kettlebell around my head in between each rep. It not only fatigued my shoulders, but it also wasted time. I checked the rules and they stated that the participant could use heavier or lighter kettlebells throughout the attempt as desired. If I was able to safely move between two kettlebells, having one on each side was going to save a lot of time and energy. Although it definitely forces you to be aware of your surroundings, I practiced this every training session and it never seemed to be an issue. However, I don’t recommend get-ups be performed this way, as we should always clear our surroundings first.
The Test-The-Pace Day
I knew I needed to lift more than 3,008kg and there were a lot of different combinations of weights and pace that could get me to my goal.
- 189 reps with the 16kg = 3,024kg
- 151 reps with the 20kg = 3,020kg
- 126 reps with the 24kg = 3,024kg
- 108 reps with 28kg = 3,024kg
Any of those lifts would get me there, but they all taxed the body a little differently. Would I be better off going light, moving as fast as possible, and rarely taking any rest? Or would it be easier to go heavier, complete less reps, and allow for more rest? It was a game that I needed to figure out by testing different weights and paces. The first few weeks I used the 20kg for this testing day. I started the first week with one rep every 30 seconds. In an hour, this equaled 120 reps and 2,400kg lifted. Not enough to beat the record, but the pace was comfortable and sustainable.
Each week I cut the rest period down. For example, during week two I did 1 rep every 28 seconds, in week three I did 1 rep every 26 seconds, and in week four 1 rep every 24 seconds. Take note that I took off an entire week of get-ups to give my body a break. In week six, I jumped to 1 rep every 22 seconds and in week seven, I attempted 1 rep every 20 seconds. This would equal 3 reps a minute. This was the very first time that my training session did not last a full 60 minutes. The pace felt too fast—after 45 minutes I had to call it quits.
Then, I had another pivotal idea. I wondered what would happen if I completed one rep on each side every 40 seconds instead of 20. I would work a little longer, but my rest would also increase. The next week I tried this pace and instead of going for 60 minutes straight, I broke my training into 4×20 minutes sessions separated by 10 minutes of rest. This would allow me to accumulate more total volume in a session. This was a breakthrough training day. I discovered a longer rest session worked better and I was able to lift 4,800kg in 2 hours.
At this point in my training, I felt confident to begin training with a 24kg kettlebell. I also knew this would force me to slow the pace. The next week I regressed back to one get-up on each side (1/1) every 56 seconds (essentially 1 rep every 28 seconds). I followed the next week with 1/1 every 52 seconds (1 every 26 seconds) and finally 1/1 every 48 seconds (1 every 24 seconds). At this point, I had just one big training session left before my big attempt. I decided to test one final pace, just a little faster completing 1/1 every 45 seconds. I didn’t want to go for the full hour just yet, so I repeated the 4×20 minute sessions. I was confident that if I could survive the session, I would be able to complete one hour straight the day of the attempt. That training session yielded my highest volume of 5,184kg. After that day, I took the next two weeks to taper my training. I continued to do get-ups but shortened the work time. I listened to my body and rested more often.
Attempt Day: January 22, 2022
I felt a lot of nerves the week leading up to the attempt. However, the morning of the event, I woke up at peace. I was confident, ready, and excited to put my training to the test. I arrived at THE GYM WB early to do my mobility movements and foam rolling. I spent some time sitting in my training square with my two 24kg kettlebells, envisioning what had to happen. About an hour before the attempt, I moved to the back room to be alone. The witnesses, cameraman, and a whole bunch of friends and family started arriving.
At 8 am, I began my attempt. The first few get-ups felt weird. I could feel the nerves and knew I needed to just focus on breathing. After a few more reps, I settled in. I think I smiled the entire hour. It was so much fun. Every single get-up felt effortless. My body knew what to do and I could mentally just enjoy the moment. I waved to friends and family between reps, sang along to some of my favorite songs, and soaked it all in. I was working hard, but the pace never felt difficult. I stuck with the pace of 1/1 every 45 seconds.
I officially surpassed the previous Guinness World Record just after the 46-minute mark. The crowd clapped and cheered. I took a second to savor the moment, but knew I had more work to do. I continued the pace until about the last four minutes. That’s when I decided to just go. Not worrying about the clock or sticking to a pace, I just went for it non-stop—right and left. Then things got tough. After about four get-ups in a row, my body started to slow down. The weight instantly felt heavier. I wanted to keep pushing the pace, but my body wanted longer rest. It took complete focus and control not to drop the kettlebell. I believe I completed 14 reps in those last 4 minutes.
When that final buzzer rang, I rolled over and felt a tremendous sense of pride. I had done it. I had completed 165 get-ups in one hour with the 24kg kettlebell and lifted a total of 3,960kg. Goal smashed! Through it all, I raised just over $6,000 for The Youth Impact Club and brought awareness to an important topic. If you or someone you know is in danger, call 1-800-273-TALK or text 741741. Suicide is real and needs to be talked about. There are others to help you “get up” when you cannot. You are not alone.