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Background:
I am in a situation where I do not have access to a gym nor have any additional weights around nor equipment like parallete, pullup, dip bars etc. The only odd thing I have is a 40lb kettlebell.

What I can't do:
At the current moment, I am unable to perform a snatch nor the turkish getup. For the snatch, I can do the swing but I don't have the explosiveness nor the strength to get it past my chest height. As for the turkish getup, I can't even get off the ground.

Question:
Can anyone please help recommend, what I can start doing with my own bodyweight or with the 40lb kettlebell to build strength to do those two exercises, that's my first goal for the month...yeah, I'm targeting to build strength in a month, though if that's overambitious I'm down to train for a long time, as long as I can complete those two with good form. I feel like I may be able to do it just because I can do a swing with both hands. I am just unsure of what the progression looks like and how to time it.

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  • the turkish get-up is a full body exercise, it really depends where you are breaking. Is it the lifting the kettlebell above your head part, or sitting up part? Do you feel any muscles start to tense up during the exercise, such as your glutes are pushing hard, but just cant accomplish it? to answer your question is difficult because you have no equipment to progressive overload which is needed for strength, all you can do is more reps. this is great for endurance, but not to suddenly build strength to lift a 35 lb kettlebell. I'd advise at least investing in a set of resistance bands
    – Ace Cabbie
    Jan 19 at 19:22
  • Great question. My big question before I write up an answer: do you have a way to get the bell overhead? Essentially, have you learned how to clean and jerk the 'bell? Jan 20 at 6:51
  • How tall / heavy are you? The TGU issue is likely to be technique more than strength, unless 35lbs is a significant portion of your bodyweight. Also, can you press the 35lbs 'bell overhead with one arm?
    – Dark Hippo
    Jan 20 at 9:09

3 Answers 3

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This is a great puzzle to solve, and I think it is solvable. The basic recipe I would follow is: do what you can until you can do a "reverse" Turkish get-up, starting from the top -- a "Turkish lie-down"? With that in hand, the get-up is not far behind.

You'll want to prioritize a few specific areas:

  1. general strength
  2. overhead stability
  3. each component element of the get-up

To me, the highest return-on-investment exercises would be:

  • swings (for general strength)
  • goblet squats (for general strength)
  • clean and jerks (for overhead stability)
  • windmills (for overhead stability, and to work towards the middle steps of the get-up) (this might have to be unweighted for a while)
  • ab work (to work towards the first step of the get-up)
  • reverse get-ups (for everything)
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Given lack of information in your question, I'm going to make a couple of assumptions; a 40lbs kettlebell isn't a significant portion of your bodyweight, it's the initial roll to elbow that you're struggling with for the TGU and you can do a set of 10 single arm swings with it.

For the Turkish Get Up, this is almost certainly a technique issue. A lot of people misunderstand the driving force when trying to do the roll to elbow portion of the TGU; they imagine it as a crunch with a kettlebell held overhead, whereas it's actually a combination of a push from the bent leg and pull from the elbow of the non-weight bearing arm.

The way to think of it is that the bent leg is pushing to roll you onto your side, while at the same time, the non-weight bearing arm is pulling to lift your body up until you're on your elbow (you can drill this later part by having something to pull on with the non-weight bearing arm). Mark Wildman has a pretty good video on this first part of the movement.

For the snatch, my first question would actually be why do you want to snatch? You can get a lot of benefit with the humble kettlebell swing (given that you're a cyclist, the glute strength from the swing will really help) without adding in the learning jump for the snatch. But, that wasn't your question, so...

The teaching for the snatch has actually changed over the past few years; whereas it used to be taught as a swing that finishes overhead, it's now taught as a clean that finishes overhead, the main difference between the two movements being that with a swing, you keep your arm straight, with the clean, you keep it tucked by your side.

The kettlebell movements all kind of build on one another, so your single arm swing will help you with your clean. A solid clean gets the weight in position to learn the press, and once you've got a solid clean and press, the snatch is only a small jump away.

That is how I'd suggest learning, and building the strength up to snatch a 40lbs kettlebell. Get your 1 arm swings solid, to the point you almost find them boring. Then concentrate on the clean and press until you're completely comfortable with the weight in the overhead position (I can highly recommend ladders for this).

Once you've got those two movements down, then you should be ready to try snatching. If you still don't feel ready, then you can break it down into two different movements (half snatches), either snatch the weight overhead and lower it as you would in a clean and press, or clean and press the weight overhead and lower it as you would a snatch.

(Note: I train hardstyle, there is a difference if you're looking at more of a kettlebell sport style snatch, but I don't yet have enough experience to talk about that sport style snatch technique)

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Without knowing your weak points specifically since turkish get-up is a whole body exercise, here is a list of exercises you can do with a kettlebell that will target every part of your body(you can pick and choose). The bolded ones are the most important, especially for snatch but they will all help contribute:

  • kettlebell swing
  • glute bridges (use a kettlebell or don't depending on what you can physically do)
  • floor press/ bench press with kettlebell
  • shoulder press(one arm)
  • arnold press (one arm)
  • one arm row
  • goblet squat (both regular and wide stance)
  • one arm RDL with kettlebell(if you're weak you can use both hands or hold onto something)
  • renegade row (one arm at a time)
  • triceps one arm extension
  • pushups
  • planks
  • one arm farmer carries with kettlebell
  • waiter's carry with kettlebell(if not too heavy)
  • zercher carry with kettlebell
  • kettlebell biceps curl (might be difficult if you dont have the strength, so you could substitute with an hammer -to-curl exercise where you start out in the hammer position.)
  • two handed kettlebell biceps curl (works different bicep muscles)
  • hammer curl with kettle bell
  • reverse curl one arm
  • forearm wrist curls
  • two handed kettlebell press (if you cant do the one arm shoulder press)

Extra exercises if you have stability ball,sliders, pull-up bar

  • stability ball crunch / jackknife
  • Hamstring slider curl
  • slider crawls
  • Leg abduction lunges with sliders
  • pullup

I'd advise you to get resistance bands as well, you can get a full starter set that'll allow you to progressively overload.

A turkish getup requires strength in multiple muscle groups, so you're limited to really just adding reps and trying to do more and more reps each workout. Strength is best when using high weight and low reps, so I'd advise trying to make each exercise more difficult in some way or adding bands. Because even if you build up your muscular endurance, it doesn't make your body suddenly capable of lifting a 35lb kettlebell overhead if you cant do a kettlebell press above 20, even if you can do 15 reps of 20 lbs. So in the above exercises, if you cant do a shoulder press with 35 lbs, you have limited means to increase shoulder strength unless you can slowly build up to 35 by doing a set of 10 with 20, then 25, than 30, etc.. The floor press will build shoulders but not to a great extent. so while the workout above will help you, I think you'd reach your goal faster with resistance bands, and they are much cheaper than buying a full set of kettlebells. You can also just buy a kettlebell handle with freeweights for a cheaper kettlebell option, but this is more expensive.

Also for those exercises, I believe there are easier versions for a turkish get-up that could also be done until you've mastered themm.

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