Optimizing The Getup - Part 2: The Set-up

Optimizing The Getup
Optimizing The Getup

Last week I kicked things off with Optimizing The Getup- Part 1: But First, Why?

In that post I shared 5 key reasons why you should learn and train the Getup. I got some great feedback from world-class strength coaches including StrongFirst Chief Bodyweight Instructor and Master SFG Coach Karen Smith and Iron Tamer, Dave Whitely.

If you missed Part 1 go back and check it out.

This week I dive into the finer points of each phase of the Getup.

While the Getup is trained as one fluid movement, there are separate phases that should be trained individually in order to optimize the entire lift itself.

Today we start with the set-up.

Like any lift, the set-up is absolutely critical to your success in the Getup. A slip here, or a little lack of tension there can lead to a missed lift or worse yet, potential injury.

The Set-up For The Getup: Why it’s Important and How It Relates to the Bigger Picture

Some of you might be wondering what I mean by the “set-up” of the Getup. “Don’t you just roll over to your elbow to start?”

To be fair, yes, that is likely the first step that comes to mind for most people when thinking of “phases of the Getup.”

However in my opinion, the act of placing your hand under the handle of the bell signifies you’re about to do a Getup and therefore is our starting position.

For the purposes of this post, the setup will cover:

  • Starting in the fetal position

  • Hand placement on the kettlebell

  • Wrist placement on the kettlebell
  • Roll to press
  • And hand/leg placement on the floor

It’s only after you’ve completed each of these steps that you’re ready to start your roll to elbow, leg sweep, half-kneeling, etc.

Here are 5 reasons why each of the steps mentioned above are important for a successful Getup and how each relates to the big picture.

Starting in the fetal position

Simply put this is the only way to start a Getup.

While – yes – you can lie flat on your back and drag the bell over to your arm, then press it up; it’s not advised.

There are two reasons why this is not a good habit to get into.

#1 You won’t ever be able to do a respectable Getup with a starting position like that

#2 You’ll inevitably have to adjust the bell on your wrist once it’s over your head – not a good idea.

Optimizing The Getup
Optimizing The Getup

Hand placement on the bell

Where the bell rests in your hand is critical for how it rests on your wrist and how straight you’re able to maintain your wrist throughout the lift.

Any laziness here will be seen directly in the following step.

Wrist placement on the bell

For me, the wrist and hand placement happen simultaneously. Solid pressure between the back of your wrist and the bell will lead to proper hand placement and assure your roll to press is as smooth as possible.

Roll to press

I will always press the bell into the starting position with both hands.

A solid roll to press can make or break your Getup. If it’s slow and sloppy, there’s a good chance your ensuing Getup will be sloppy.

If it’s quick and crisp, there’s a much better chance of your movements being crisp and you maintaining complete control of the bell throughout the entire lift.

Hand/leg placement on the floor

The getup is a lift where you always have to think one step ahead.

If you’ve done a great job in all the steps prior to this, but fail to place your hand and leg in the proper position, your roll to elbow will likely suffer... as will your tall sit, leg sweep, and so on and so forth.

The Set-up For The Getup: What to Look For

As you can tell each aspect of the set-up for the Getup influences one another and in turn influences the next phase of the lift.

This will be a theme throughout the 10-part series.

Here’s what you’re looking in each step of the set-up.

Starting in the fetal position

Perhaps the easiest part; lie on your side facing the bell, knees tucked, and hands ready to reach for the bell.

Hand and Wrist placement on the bell

Rather than explain this word-for-word. I thought it would be better to show you what you’re looking for here. Take a look.

Roll to press

At this point your hand and wrist are firmly on the bell and ready to roll into the starting position of the getup.

I like to take a "sip" or "sniff" of air just before I roll to increase my intra-abdominal pressure. This helps me create internal force/pressure to combat the weight of the external load I’m about to lift.

With both hands on the bell, simultaneously roll over to your back and press the bell up with both arms at the same time.

At this point you should maintain contact with both hands on the bell until you feel your arm is stable and in position.

Once you’ve determined you’re ready to rock, move to the last step – hand and leg placement

Hand/leg placement on the floor

A tip I picked up from StrongFirst Team Leader Jeff Sokol is the idea of 'tapping your belt buckle' with your unloaded hand and extending your arm out to the floor at the angle that motion creates.

You have some wiggle room here and will ultimately have to determine which position feels best for your biomechanics.

Once you have your hand in place, simply mimic the angle of your hand with your leg on the same side.

I’d recommend playing around with all of this with a light bell. Pause at each step to make sure you feel comfortable.

Once the bell is overhead and your arm and leg are extended, you’re ready to roll into the first phase of the getup – the roll to elbow.

The Set-up For The Getup: Common Pain Points

Below are a few areas that I tend to see my students either have trouble with, or bypass altogether when first learning the getup.

Despite their seemingly insignificant influence to the rest of the lift, as I mentioned earlier your set-up is just as important as the lift itself. It sets the tone for the ensuing rep.

Crappy set-up = crappy rep

Hand/Wrist Placement

This tends to be a literal pain point for novices to the Getup.

I used to try and "toughen" my clients up and tell them their wrists will get used to it. Then I realized, “hey you know what, they’re not in this to win it, they’re here to get strong and get on with their life.”

In other words, if you want to use wrist guards or sweat bands I see no problem with that whatsoever.

That being said, I have noticed that when you're first learning the Getup - or when you move to a heavier bell - naturally it takes some time for the tissue on the back of your wrist to adjust. After a couple sessions most people tend to be OK with the pressure and no longer notice it... until they go up to a heavier bell again.

If you’re a person who bruises easily, consider getting a pair of sweatbands to serve as protection between the bell and your wrist.

The last thing you want with heavy load over your head is to be concentrating on how much your wrist hurts.

If you’re training for the SFG Level 1 cert, you might consider toughing this out as you won’t be allowed to wear sweatbands or wrist guards for your snatch test.

Optimizing The Getup
Optimizing The Getup

Roll to Press

In my experience people have trouble with this portion simply because they’re either rushing it or not focusing on it entirely.

As I said earlier

  • Take the time to make sure you have the proper hand and wrist placement
  • Take a "sip" or "sniff" of air to create intra-abdominal pressure
  • And roll with a purpose!

If you’re working with a heavy bell and roll over as if you’re rolling over to the other side of the bed guess what, you’ve just told your body this weight isn’t important and this lift doesn’t matter.

In other words you’ve set a poor tone for the ensuing lift.

On the other hand, if you sip/sniff aggressively, and roll with crispness and authority, the bell will likely shoot up into position and instead prime the body for a great lift.

Optimizing The Getup
Optimizing The Getup

Hand/Leg Placement

This step can cause some frustration for some people.

My advice to you is this: tinker with it.

Play around with the "belt-buckle" tip I shared earlier, but ultimately do what works best for you.

You’ll know what works best for you by the position of the next step – your roll to elbow.

If your hand is too far away from your body, your elbow will be too far in front of you when you roll to your elbow putting you at a mechanical disadvantage.

If your hand is too close to your body, your elbow position will cause your shoulder to jam up on you, inhibiting your ability to properly pack the shoulder of the arm on the ground.

Again, tinker with it.

Tinkering is always a good idea, however never a good idea with heavy weight over your head. Drop the load completely or use your bodyweight/a light bell that you’re more than comfortable with.

The Set-up For The Getup: Practice, Practice, Practice

Optimizing The Getup
Optimizing The Getup

So there you have it. If you wondered just how much I’d be breaking down the Getup today’s post should give you a clear understanding...we’re going DEEP!

  • Practice each step
  • Make it a habit
  • Make it routine

Much like the Swing, the set-up for your Getup should look the same whether you’re using an 8kg bell or a 48kg bell.

As I mentioned last time if you have any questions and/or comments regarding the tips covered in today’s post please feel free to reach out to me directly on our Facebook or Instagram pages.

I’d be curious to hear how these tips are helping your Getup.

Are there any “ah-ha” moments yet?

I’d also recommend following our Facebook and Instagram accounts so you stay up to date with each week's post.

Stay tuned next week for Optimizing The Getup – Part 3: Roll To Elbow. Until then,