Being a student of strength means having the courage to challenge habits and biases. Because of its complexity, the get-up offers many opportunities to explore, practice, and improve how we move and express our strength. Director of Education, Brett Jones, offers two get-up refinements: one that improves your body connection and another to avoid a common bridge pitfall.
“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” Dalai Lama
As a teacher and presenter, I can fall victim to “only repeating” what I already know—it is after all what I get paid to do. But now and then, a conversation leads to making something old, new again.
A Long History: the Old
Over a decade ago, Gray Cook and I published Kettlebells From the Ground Up—Kalos Sthenos, a 36-page manual and two-DVD set covering one exercise—the get-up. Going back even further, I have been teaching the get-up since 2003 with Pavel. As one of our six core kettlebell skills in the StrongFirst curriculum, the get-up is an exercise that I have used with students at courses, certifications, and individual sessions, as well as performed in my own training countless times. As you can imagine, I’ve also practiced its many variations over the years.
Ok, ok we get it. You’ve done and taught a bunch of get-ups. So what?
Well, I recently embraced two progressions or changes to the get-up.
Heresy you say? Not at all.
New Twists on the Old
My two get-up refinements are:
- Changing the down arm’s position when performing the roll to the elbow.
- Changing the placement of the bridge, if this get-up variation is on your training menu. Remember that not every variation is right for every person (read about that here).
For the down arm’s position, I would now recommend “rolling” the arm, so the palm is up instead of having the palm down. This external rotation of the shoulder connects the arm to the body better, allows for better lat engagement, and positions the humeral head in a more open position. It also creates more of a rolling action so that instead of having to “leverage” up to the elbow there is a natural roll up. This improvement came from a conversation with Master Instructor Pavel Macek, based on how he performs and teaches the get-up. Thank you.
For the bridge, I would now recommend performing it at the elbow instead of at the hand. By bridging at the elbow, you get a “pure” hip extension and avoid the tendency to “roll” into an over-extended position at the back. A good cue here is “instead of focusing on lifting the hips high, make the distance between the bent knee and corresponding shoulder longer, pulling two ends of the rope in opposite directions—resulting in a straight rope.” Credit: Tommy Blom and Pavel Macek.
Also, remember to push your elbow down into the ground to better position the down arm and shoulder for the bridge.
What Does it Mean for Your “Regular” Get-up?
Does this mean that you “have to” change the position of the down arm for the roll to the elbow? Or that you cannot perform a bridge at the hand (high bridge)? Or that we’ve changed the get-up testing standards? No. But I do recommend that you experiment with these options—be curious about what you might learn in these new positions.
Give these a try and let us know what you think on the StrongFirst Forum. If you are unsure about the move or these progressions, find an Accredited Gym in your area to get in-person get-up instruction.