One thing that I have noticed over the last few months is that there is some confusion on how heavy to do Turkish get-ups. We TEACH get-ups very light. We do that because students are moving around for the very first time with a weight overhead. The newbie is not confident and there is a danger of dropping a weight on his head until he understands the movement. Once a student owns the movement and learns to use his body as one unit - the way it is meant to be used - a much heavier bell can be used. I believe that in our class, it's an instructor problem. We haven't communicated that the get-up is not just a light warmup mobility exercise (although there are definite benefits there,) but that it should also be a serious strength exercise once the student owns the movement and has confidence.
"Naked" get-ups, shoe get-ups, very light get-ups are all great teaching tools as well as good practice and mobility work. I think that when the awesome book and DVD set, Kalos Thenos came out people gave up heavy get-ups almost completely and replaced them with the light get-ups with neck/shoulder rotations and the high hip bridge - much like when people gave up heavy snatching altogether when Viking Warrior Conditioning came out. I am not saying the Kalos Thenos get-up is bad - on the contrary, I think it is a great drill for both newbies and advanced lifters as well as an instructor tool to screen movement problems, asymmetries, spot tight hip flexors, and the list goes on... But it's when a whole type of get-up is taken out that some of the picture is missing.
The yin to the Kalos Thenos Get-up yang is the heavy get-up. The RKC is first and foremost a "School of Strength" and we should get moving with some heavy weights overhead. As MRKC Brett Jones said last weekend as we were getting ready for the Level II cert, you should have the ability to own different kinds of get-ups. You should be able to high hip bridge and to low sweep - as well as many other kinds of get-ups. It's all about body control and strength.
Note: the heavy get-up will look a little different. You will probably have to sit more into your hip to under the weight for more leverage when coming up into the kneeling position. Your breathing will be more of a power breathing style. The high hip bridge is more than likely out if the question if you are maxing out. It looks very different from the highly regarded Kalos Thenos get up - and that's ok...
So how do you start working on getting up with a heavier weight? You do some drills to make sure you know how to use your body as a unit. In class today, we did the workout in the picture below. I adapted it from a training that RKC TL Andrew Read came up with when we were teaching a workshop in Minnesota last Fall.
The press drills take out some "cheating" and force you to lock into place using your body. You may feel your abs working extra hard on the opposite side (The body is set up like an "X" but that is a whole different story... Let Tim Andersen tell it here.) After you do these drills, try something heavy. In the 4 classes that I was around for today, we set 11 PR's... and some of those PR's were newbies (who are expected to move up relatively quickly) but some of those students had been with us for YEARS! Elaine Wade, for example, has been coming since 2008 and did her first TGU with a 16kg - and made it look easy!
The bottom line is the Kalos Thenos get-up is a fantastic way to perform the exercise, but it's not the only way to train Get-ups. Just like you can use MRKC Dan John's Easy Strength program to pattern movements with lighter weights in order to train for a personal record, you can increase your mobility and stability with the Kalos Thenos get-up in order to get-up with some substantial weight above head, and it will help increase your other lifts as well.
Homework: If you are trying to press a certain weight, get-up with that weight or even one bell heavier. Getting used to moving around with that weight overhead and using your whole body to connect to support it will get you your gains faster.