The Single Exercise That Works Almost Every Muscle In Your Body

Amy Rushlow

Work nearly every muscle in your body with a single exercise that includes a shoulder press, crunch, hip bridge, side plank and lunge. (Images courtesy of Neghar Fonooni)

Reader, meet the Turkish getup. 

It’s a little complicated, but then again, so are most great human accomplishments (space travel, heart surgery, crème brulee…). The Turkish getup is a series of moves that bring you from lying flat on the floor to standing up — all while holding a weight overhead.

Master the movement, and the world is yours. 

Well, not quite — but it might feel like it. “You’ll increase strength and stability in your entire body through the Turkish getup, including the shoulders, hips, trunk, and legs — all while improving your general bodily awareness,” says fitness coach Neghar Fonooni, creator of the Lean and Lovely training program. “There simply is not another exercise around that can accomplish all of those things in just one move, and that just about anyone can do regardless of size, skill, exercise goals, or age,” she told Yahoo Health.

Related: 7 Ways to Get Fit in Half the Time

Fitness expert Tony Gentilcore calls the Turkish getup “loaded yoga” — not because you might look drunk trying it for the first time, but because the exercise is so good for your body. Each step of the getup challenges different skills and muscle groups, highlighting your strengths and identifying areas for improvement, says Gentilcore, co-owner of Cressey Sports Performance in Hudson, MA. Holding the weight overhead challenges your core throughout the entire exercise, which fires up to keep your torso upright as you bend and twist.

Gentilcore offers these three tips to get the most out of the exercise:

1. Slow down. “People tend to speed up because they lack stability or core strength,” he says. Done correctly, it’s a purposeful, slower-paced movement. One getup should take you 45 seconds to a full minute.

2. Keep your wrist straight. Gentilcore says to think of pointing your knuckles to the ceiling the whole time, which will keep your wrist in a strong, safe position. Some people allow the wrist to bend backward, which can lead to injury, he says.

3. Pick a lighter weight. This isn’t the type of exercise where lifting heavier = better results. A lighter kettlebell or dumbbell will allow you to focus on the quality of the movement, which is what the getup is all about, Gentilcore explains. And when you’re first learning the Turkish getup, do it without any weight so you can get used to the steps.

Perform one to three reps per side as part of your warmup or at the start of your workout. Most people use a kettlebell for the exercise, but a dumbbell works, too. 

Ready to give it a shot? Here’s your step-by-step breakdown:

Step 1. Partial sit-up with elbow support

To get into the starting position, lie on your side and cradle the weight to your chest, then roll over onto your back.

Bend your right knee and place your right foot flat on the ground and your left leg straight. Press the weight up, locking out your elbow. Push your right foot into the ground as you lift your torso; prop yourself up with your left forearm.

Step 2. Partial sit-up with hand support

Switch from supporting yourself with your left forearm to your left hand. 

Related: 7 No-Crunch Ab Exercises for Six-Pack Abs

Step 3. Hip bridge

Lift your hips toward the sky.

Step 4. Transition to half-kneeling position

Thread your left leg underneath your body and place it on the floor behind you.

Step 5. Half-kneeling position

Take your left hand off the ground and raise your chest up into a half-kneeling position. Spiral your left foot so that it’s directly behind your hip.

Step 6. Stand up

Brace your abs and stand up, bringing your feet together. Reverse the steps to finish the movement and return your body to the lying position. Congratulations, you just finished what will probably be the longest single rep of your life.

To see the entire move in action, watch Fonooni and strength expert Jen Sinkler demonstrate:

Got all that? Don’t worry if it doesn’t click right away. To remember the steps, it might help to think of something like, “elbow, hand, hips, through.” (Come up with a better pneumonic device? Leave us a note in the comments!)