Get with the Kettlebell Get Up

I recently had the opportunity to be an assistant instructor at a Level 1 RKC hosted by Dragondoor.  This was a great opportunity to both teach and learn from the students and other instructors, and I had to refocus some of my training so I could recertify for my Level 2 RKC.

I don’t believe that I will ever be considered a slouch when it comes to training, however no matter how much you train there are always some movements and exercises that may get neglected.  For me the Kettlebell Get Up has been put on the back burner for months and I had to go back to adding it into my programming to be successful at it once again.  I am glad that I did.

The Get Up is a unique movement where one repetition takes longer to complete than any other exercise and because of this you will be able to assess exactly where strengths and weaknesses occur.


The Get Up is one of those exercises that will now be a weekly staple in my personal programming because of the unique benefits it provides.  In this article I will give reasons why you should consider doing this movement and how to progress up to a full Get Up if you never have before.

I also have included a video demonstration of the topics I discuss below.

More than Meets the Eye

Like those famous Russian Matryoshka Dolls, the Get Up can be peeled back in layers to reveal several different movements all of which make one large complete movement.  What may look like a simple sitting up off the floor to the standing position is a much more intricate succession of progressive movements that needs to be complete so the whole movement is performed fluidly.

via The Bariatric Goddess
via The Bariatric Goddess

Your body will demand the most out if its mobility, strength and coordination to complete each task before moving onto the next and, when performed correctly, the muscle time under tension will reward you handsomely with new joint strength, muscle endurance and core stability.

Get Up for Everyone

Do not get discouraged if you have never done a Get Up or have tried and struggled.  Though I am not going to give you and exact step-by-step instruction on how to perform one I will show the progressions I use with my athletes to get the Get Up right for them to be successful and acquire the many benefits this movement has to offer.

If you are looking for an instructional video please refer to my video I did a few years back creatively called; Fix Your Kettlebell Get Up.

Specialty Tools?

Yes, traditionally the Get Up is associated with using the kettlebell but this does not have to be the case.  I have had clients use a dumbbell, a sandbag and sometimes they use nothing at all.

If you are new to the Get Up game or are apprehensive about the movement due to coordination or joint issues, start with nothing in your hand and have your goal to be to learn the movement correctly before progressing to any additional weight.

How to Progress

As I mentioned earlier I truly like the Get Up for its multi-movement-in-one application.  There is not a week that goes by that I do not have any one of my clients who do not go through some progressive form of the movement.

Sit Up

The first part or the Sit Up is where I like to focus a lot of attention.  It is arguably the most difficult part of the movement and it predicates how the rest of the movement will look.

If you are new start by finding your correct position where you will be able to post strongly off the foot to get you up while keeping the chest up and arm locked overhead with a packed shoulder.  After you master that, grab a dumbbell or kettlebell and repeat.


Take it to the Bridge

The RKC took out what is referred to as the High Bridge which you perform by using your glutes to lock out the hips before transferring to the leg sweep.  I am not exactly sure why they took it out but I feel that the high bridge is a great step to take to get glute activation and proper core and shoulder stability when trying to advance to the next movement.

I admit I miss the high bridge and see several benefits when using it. First, it is great for glute activation.  Glute actions include hip extension which is valuable for hip strength, athletic speed and deceleration ability.  When the glutes are engaged the Get Up movement is stabilized and it also gives you a greater ability to move the free leg and get into the next phase of the Get Up.

The Lunge Challenge

Lunge variations are great for most strength and conditioning programs.  When considering the Get Up the single kettlebell overhead lunge is not only a challenging variation of the traditional lunge, it is also a great way to strengthen the core and the shoulder joint.

This lunge makes you truly control your movement downwards or else you will collapse in a heap without a stable core and you may put the shoulder in a precarious position.  When performed correctly a few reps and your core will be very fatigued and the shoulder gets strengthened isometrically.  This stabilized strength is great for the rotator cuff muscles and will help with your Get Up progressions with heavier weight.


To see the steps I mentioned above check out the video below:

Consider programming some portion of the Get Up each week to get better.  Even if you are a veteran of the movement it is great to go back and revisit the steps to clean up the movements and put them all back together so your Get Ups can improve.

In your first week add sets of the first part of your Get Up and do them for 3-5 sets of 5-10 reps.  Work up to a weight that allows you to maintain proper technique where you can keep your chest up, posting foot down and the kettlebell directly overhead.

The second week you will add the high bridge.  You can do this one of two ways.  You can strictly stick with just the bridge or you can repeat the sit up and go into the bridge.  This is a very challenging movement and will help solidify arguably the hardest movements which is the first initial sit up and the posting strong enough to get into the lunge.

Week three work the single kettlebell overhead bridge into the program.  You can do it on your Get Up day or you can make it into an assistance exercise after your squat or deadlift training.

In the final week of the month you are ready to put it all back together and go for the full Get Up.  Do them for singles or choose a challenging weight and go for sets of two.

If you really start getting good and want to turn the Get Up into a conditioning tool; alternate sides going one repetition until you have completed six repetitions on each side without rest.

There you have it; everything you need to practice and make the Get Up smooth and beneficial to your training program.