How to Do A Kettlebell Get Up

The Get Up

Like the swing, the Get Up is on the short list of best exercises for strength, health and athleticism.

It's such a valuable movement because there are so many benefits rolled up into a single exercise.

Want to build a strong set of abs? Check.

Improve your hip, shoulder and spinal mobility? Check.

Develop stability through your core, hips and shoulders? Check.

Forge a stronger, more resilient body? Check.

The Get Up is your one stop shop for strength, mobility and athleticism.

Like most things though, it's only as valuable as the time and energy you put in to doing it correctly.

The devil is in the details, and there are a lot of details to a finely tuned Get Up - but it's worth it.

Here's a breakdown of how to do a Get Up correctly (and safely) so you can get all the benefits that it has to offer.

How to Get Set Up and Park the Kettlebell

It's important to set up for the Get Up correctly from a technique standpoint, but also from a safety standpoint.

Getting the bell in to and out of position is where injuries can happen if you don't pay attention.

Please don't haphazardly grab the kettlebell with one arm and "arm wrestle" it into positon.

Follow the instructions below and be mindful when setting up and parking the kettlebell.

NOTE: All the instructions will be for a Get Up with the right arm.

  • 1
    Lay on your back with a kettlebell parked next to you on your right side.
  • 2
    Roll onto your side and grip the kettlebell with both hands, right hand on first, left on top.
  • 3
    Pull it into your chest, roll onto your back and press the kettlebell straight up with both hands.
  • 4
    Lock out the elbow on your right arm and pull your shoulder blades back and down.
  • 5
    Bend your right leg and place your foot flat on the ground.
  • 6
    Place the left arm and leg flat on the ground at a 45 degree angle to your body.
  • 7
    When parking the kettlebell after the Get Up, reverse these steps.
  • 8
    Bring the kettlebell down to your chest with two hands.
  • 9
    Roll over onto your side and safely park the kettlebell on the ground with both hands on the handle.

How to Do A Get Up to the Elbow

The first step in the Get Up is the roll to the elbow.

To initiate the roll, you're going to simultaneously push with your bent leg and pull with your flat arm to start the roll to the elbow.

Think about driving through your heel and digging the elbow into the ground.

This push and pull will create tension throughout your body, making the roll much easier. 

Don't start the roll by lunging with the kettlebell - make sure the arm holding the kettlebell remains perfectly vertical with the elbow locked out, and keep your eyes on the bell.

Once you're on your elbow, push your chest up and get tall.

Press the ground away from you with your elbow and pull your shoulder blades back and down.

  • 1
    From the set up position, keep your right arm perfectly vertical and roll up on to your left elbow.
  • 2
    Use the ground to make the roll easier, drive into the floor with your right heel and pull the ground with your left arm to roll up on to your elbow.
  • 3
    Press the floor away with your elbow, push your chest out and get tall.
  • 4
    You shoulders should be pulled down, away from your ears and your right arm should be perfectly vertical.

How to Do A Get Up to the Hand

Once you're comfortable with the Get Up to the Elbow, you can make the transition to the hand.

From the elbow, you're simply going to straighten your arm to post up tall on your hand, in the tall sit position.

As you straighten your arm, pivot your hand around about 90 degrees so that it's pointing behind you.

This will allow you to "screw" your shoulder into the socket and get into a strong position.

Again, make sure your chest is up and your shoulders are pulled down, away from your ears.

If you're out of position here, fix it - the next transition is tough and if you're out of position going into it, it won't go well.

  • 1
    From the set up position, keep your right arm perfectly vertical and roll up on to your left elbow.
  • 2
    Straighten your left arm to come up on your hand.
  • 3
    Pivot your hand and move it slightly as you straighten your arm.
  • 4
    Press the floor away with your hand, push your chest out and get tall.
  • 5
    You shoulders should be pulled down, away from your ears and your right arm should be perfectly vertical.

How to Do A Get Up to the Knee

This transition is where the Get Up starts to get tricky, so practice it with no weight until it becomes comfortable.

From the tall sit position, you're going to use your hand and flat foot to bridge your hips up high enough to sweep your leg underneath your body.

You'll put your knee down underneath your body next to your hand - it should form a "T" with your front foot.

This is called the windmill position.

It's important to put the knee down in the right spot here because in the next step you're going to put all of your weight on that knee - if you're in a bad position, you won't be able to support your body.

Also, make sure you're looking at the kettlebell during this transition.

This is the portion of the Get Up where you're going to lose control of the bell if you're not paying attention to it.

So keep your eyes on the bell while your making this transition.

Again, practice this with no weight first, until you're comfortable bridging up and placing your knee down without having to look at where you're putting it.

And like the steps before this, make sure the kettlebell arm remains perfectly vertical with the elbow locked out and your shoulders pulled down, away from your ears.

  • 1
    From the set up position, keep your right arm perfectly vertical and roll up on to your left elbow.
  • 2
    Straighten your left arm to come up on your hand.
  • 3
    Use your left hand and your right foot to bridge your hips up high enough to sweep your left leg underneath you.
  • 4
    Place your knee down under your hip, in line with and next to your hand. It should form a T with your front foot.

How to Do A Get Up

We're finally at the full Get Up.

If you've done everything else correctly up to this point, this last step is simple.

From the windmill position, you're going to push your hips back and sit upright on your knee in the open half kneeling position.

Swing the front leg around so it's in line with your back leg, in a lunge position, then look down from the kettlebell and stand up.

At this point, you're halfway home - simply reverse these steps in order to get back down to the ground.

  • 1
    From the set up position, keep your right arm perfectly vertical and roll up on to your left elbow.
  • 2
    Straighten your left arm to come up on your hand.
  • 3
    Use your left hand and your right foot to bridge your hips up high enough to sweep your leg underneath you.
  • 4
    Place your knee down under your hip, inline and next to your hand. It should form a T with your front foot.
  • 5
    Sit back into your hips and come up to the open half kneeling position.
  • 6
    Swing your front foot around so that it's in line with your back leg, in a lunge position.
  • 7
    Tuck your back toes, look straight ahead and drive through the front foot to lunge up to standing.
  • 8
    Reverse the steps to get back down.
  • 9
    Take a big step back with your left leg and place your knee on the ground.
  • 10
    Swing your right leg around, 90 degrees to your left leg.
  • 11
    Look up at the kettlebell, push your hips back and place your hand on the ground directly in front of your left knee.
  • 12
    Use your left hand and your right foot to bridge your hips up high enough to sweep your left leg back through underneath you.
  • 13
    Roll down to your elbow.
  • 14
    Roll down to your back.
  • 15
    Use two hands to bring the kettlebell down to your chest and roll your body over to safely park it.
  • 16
    Move to the other side of the kettlebell to repeat on the other side.

Coaching Points

There's a lot going on with the Get Up, but that's what makes it such a great movement - the focus and mindfulness needed to master it.

Here are a few coaching points to keep in mind when you're practicing your Get Ups.

Set Up and Park the Kettlebell Safely

The Get Up begins and ends when the kettlebell is parked on the floor.

Always roll your body and use two hands to get the kettlebell into and out of position.

Picking up or parking the kettlebell with one arm is a good way to injure your shoulder, so don't be lazy and lose focus here.

Your Arm Must Stay Vertical

During the entire Get Up, the arm holding the kettlebell has to remain perfectly vertical with your elbow locked out and your wrist neutral.

This allows the kettlebell to "rest" on your body, instead of being held up by the small muscles of your shoulder..

If your arm loses that perfect vertical position, those muscles have to hold it up and it's likely you'll lose control of the kettlebell.

So lock your arm out and allow the weight of the kettlebell to be supported by your entire body, not just your arm.

Keep Your Eyes on the Kettlebell

Kettlebells are heavy.

And hopefully you'll eventually be using really heavy ones.

Regardless of how big the kettlebell is, the last thing you want to do is drop a weight on your face.

If you're looking at the kettlebell, it's easy to maintain control of - issues occur when you look away to focus on something else.

So, until you're in the lunge position, getting ready to stand up, keep your eyes on the kettlebell at all times.

During the lunge to standing and the lunge back to kneeling, you'll look straight ahead, other than that you should be looking at the kettlebell.

Chest Up and Shoulders Away From Your Ears

You never want to be slouching or lazy with your posture during the Get Up.

Your focus should be on maintaining a tall posture, with your chest up and your shoulders pulled down away from your ears.

Biomechanically, this puts you in the strongest position and will allow you to use heavier kettlebells while also keeping you from getting injured.

If You Get Out Of Position, Fix It

The Get Up is a series of steps where each step builds on the previous one.

If you're out of position on any of the steps, it's going to make the moving to the next one difficult or dangerous.

So before you move to the next portion of the Get Up, make sure you're in the correct position.

Check to make sure your arm is perfectly vertical, elbow locked out and your wrist is neutral.

Your chest should be tall and your shoulders pulled down away from your ears.

If you're out of position at any stage of the Get Up, don't move on to the next step until you fix it.

Wrapping Up

As you can see, the Get Up is more than just getting off the floor holding a weight.

I know there's a lot of steps, and it might seem overwhelming, but taking the time to learn the Get Up correctly will be one of the best investments you've ever made in your training.

Start by practicing the Get Up to the Elbow, doing a few sets of 5 each side everyday.

After some practice you'll feel comfortable enough to move to the hand, again practicing a few sets of 5 on each side.

Do the same to the knee and before long you'll be doing the entire Get Up.

Begin each step with no weight, practicing the movement before adding a kettlebell.

Don't be in a rush and don't skip steps, the devil is in the details.

In Strength and Health,

Dave

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