No Bullshit Strength

After 22 years of working out myself, using various tools and modalities and 12 years working as a professional strength and conditioning coach there is only 1 exercise I would recommend for those wanting the simplest most time effective workout: The Kettlebell Turkish Get-up. It’s a movement I both love and despise. I despise it because it kicks my butt every time I do it, and lays bare all my weaknesses and deficiencies. I love it because of what it does, it trains everything. It’s also possibly the single most neglected strength building movement in any gym I’ve ever taught or trained in.

I promise you this, were you to spend the next 6 weeks just doing the Turkish Get-up (TK get-up), you’d be strong as an ox and probably pleasantly surprised to see some of your other lift number increase as well. Why is this?

First if you’re in America and you workout regularly you’re probably confusing real core strength and stability for developing a pretty six pack. A strong core includes more than just the muscles of your rectus-abdominus or the visible six pack. A strong core is developed through exercises that resist flexion or bending under a load. Movements like the plank or TK get-up teach the entire spine and midsection to brace under load and support the trunk and by extension the weight being moved. Many people plateau in their heavy squats and deadlifts not because their legs can’t move more weight but because their core can’t stabilize the increasing load. This usually manifests itself with the tale-tale rounded spine during max effort lifts. Relying on a weight belt can also contribute to this issue when lifters rely on the belt for actual support instead of using it as a feedback tool to remind them to brace their midsection with proper breath control and muscle activation.

Second the TK get-up helps develop the nervous system through what it neurologically speaking a very complex movement requiring a multitude of smaller stabilizing muscle activation in order to perform correctly. Many of these smaller stabilizers just aren’t recruited as often or as strongly in a static lift where the load is essentially balanced at all times and spread evenly. A kettlebell by its nature is unbalanced and movements utilizing it require tremendous neurological recruitment. In effect it makes you a better coordinated and dexterous athlete. Real usable strength is not a static thing it’s the ability to use your body effectively and fluidly through a wide range of environments and situations.

Third, it’s so old school that it’s exercise gospel to those in the know. Fitness has gotten complicated and outright stupid. It’s time to return to the pursuit of strength. That means returning to what’s tried and true. The strength training is as old as civilization. The principles haven’t changed much and neither have the applications, overload your body with challenging movements that force it to adapt through a variety of responses whether growing more muscle or developing new nerve connections. Why do we treat this like rocket science, when it’s not. Why do we think we need a hundred gadgets, weird clothes, and crazy supplements, because we’re gullible that’s why. Those of us who don’t know, have put our trust in so-called health and fitness experts, who turns out are really just advertising and marketing specialists. We’re being sold products, not solutions. The solution isn’t flashy or particularly exciting: hard work and discipline. That’s a hard thing to sell in an age of instant gratification.

Whether you’re just beginning your own pursuit of strength or an old hand at the iron game I encourage you to reevaluate your program. Is it achieving the results you desire? Is it easy to follow and make sense? Less is more. Complicated routines are popular and sell magazines and gym memberships to the uniformed. What you need though are results and foolproof systems. Pick up a Kettlebell and train like you mean it, cut the crap, get rid of the flash and just get to work. The results will speak for themselves.

3 sets of 10 Turkish get-ups each side

100 Kettlebell swings

Use a weight that allows you to perform the movement correctly. Leave your ego out of it.

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