Optimizing The Getup - Part 4: The Tall Sit

Optimizing The Getup
Optimizing The Getup

Last week we covered Part 3 of Optimizing The Getup: The Roll to Elbow

In that post I broke down the importance of:

  • Driving through your heel
  • Punching to the sky
  • Keeping your eyes on the bell
  • Training your Arm Bar
  • Avoiding the “Hey girl” pose

If you missed Part 3 you can check it out here.

Part 4 is all about The Tall Sit.

A great tall sit is a difficult position for some people to achieve at first. This can be for a number of reasons:

  • Lack of shoulder stability/strength

  • Hamstring tension/tightness
  • And/or core weakness

Just to name a few...

If you struggle with maintaining a tall/tight posture in your roll to elbow, spend the time to smooth it out before progressing to the tall sit.

Think of the Getup as a pyramid; each phase of the Getup stacks itself on top of the previous phase. If your first phase - or foundation - is weak, you'll be vulnerable to injury as you add phases and make your way to the top.

One of the many benefits of the Getup it's ability to train and correct at the same time.

If you can’t attain any of the positions now, consistent and sustainable practice will give you the ability to not only perform the Getup well, but also give you strength that will carry over into other areas of life.

To help you optimizing your tall sit, we’ll cover 5 ways you can train and improve it by:

  • Breathing
  • Using Time under Tension
  • Tinkering with it
  • Twisting on/off the lid to a jar of pickles
  • Greasing The Groove

By the time you’re finished you should have a healthy arsenal of tools needed to fine-tune your tall sit and optimize your Getup.

Optimizing The Getup: The Tall Sit - Why it Matters

The tall sit is one of the final ground-based movements to the Getup. There are 4 reasons that make this step vital to the entire lift itself:

It Sets Up Your Leg Sweep

As we mentioned earlier, the Getup is a lift where the quality of the step beforehand will dictate the quality of the forthcoming step.

A great tall sit position will make it much easier for you to perform your leg sweep.

A great leg sweep leads to a strong/stable half-kneeling position. A strong/stable half-kneeing position leads to a strong standing position. You get the point...

Increased Shoulder Stability

The tall sit also involves considerable shoulder stability - but often times it’s the shoulder you’re not focusing on.

The “unloaded” shoulder (the shoulder of the hand that's on the ground)  is preparing to take significant load in the next phase of the Getup with the leg sweep.

Coupled with the weight of the bell plus the weight of your body, the “unloaded” arm actually takes most of the load in certain phases of the Getup.

Improved Hamstring Mobility

You'll notice that a great tall sit position requires a tall/tight upper body with one leg bent and the other fully extended.

If you flip yourself 90 degrees in the tall sit, you’d actually be performing a damn good single leg deadlift. Sneaky, sneaky...

While you might start with tight hamstrings, the more core strength you gain (up next), and the more you train your tall sit, the better conditioned your hamstrings will become. This will help you to not only rock out the Getup, but also with the Swing.

Increased Core Strength

Perhaps the ultimate “WTH” exercise (What the hell effect), the Getup trains your core like no other lift.

As you progress in the Getup you’re forced to maintain a packed shoulder in various positions – rolling, half-kneeling, standing, and back down. At the same time, as you progress in the Getup core stability fluctuates at each step.

Some steps – like the leg sweep – will require more than others, but rest assured throughout the entire movement you will significantly increase your core strength.

This strength will transfer into other areas of your life and the gym, often times with lifts you haven’t even trained in a while - thus giving it the title of the “what the hell effect.”

Optimizing The Getup: Tall Sit - Breathe

You may not be aware of this, but your breath can actually be a great assessment and training tool.

As coaches, we're constantly looking at my client’s breathing patterns.

  • Are they “sniffing” or “sipping”?
  • Are they creating intra-abdominal pressure?
  • Is their breathing fast and panicky or slow and controlled?
  • Are they even breathing at all?!

It’s completely normal for you to hold your breath when you’re focusing on something intently. The Getup typically falls into the category of lifts where people tend to hold their breath.

As far as breathing is concerned, we cue clients a couple different ways in the Getup.

Power Breathing

This is the “Tsss!” you tend to hear when people are doing Swings, Deadlifts, Squats, etc. It’s usually timed with the lockout of a lift and is performed to help create tension/stiffness in the body – specifically the core.

You can use a similar “Tss!” during the tall sit, and for each phase of the Getup for that matter.

Breathing Behind the Shield

The other – more omnipresent – breath style is “breathe behind the shield”.

Flex your abs. Now sing, talk, and carry on a conversation without letting go of that tension. That’s breathing behind the shield.

When performing the Getup you should be breathing behind the shield throughout the entire lift.

In this sense, breathing can be used as an evaluation tool.

If you can’t breathe calmly in the tall sit position, then you’re merely surviving the position, not owning it.

Don’t get discouraged if you find yourself surviving the lift rather than owning it. Regress to a sustainable lift and train there. In this case that would mean heading back to your roll to elbow or arm bar and training there until you own that position.

Remember, the next phase of the Getup will only be as good as your previous one.

Optimizing The Getup: Tall Sit - Using TUT

As our good friend and colleague Grant Anderson agrees with us, time under tension (TUT) is the secret sauce of strength.

Find ways to increase the total time it takes to complete a lift and you’ll likely get stronger in the process.

To achieve this with the tall sit, we have clients pause at this step, turn their head from side-to-side and take a few breaths in and out to make sure they truly own this position.

Additionally, we’ll have them flex and extend the foot of their extended leg while holding the tall sit. You wouldn’t think it, but you’ll notice increased hamstring tension when doing so.

This gets back to our earlier point about the tall sit mimicking a single-leg deadlift. Use it as a means to increase your mobility while at the same time owning your tall sit.

Win. Win.

Optimizing The Getup: Tall Sit – Twist the Lid on a Jar of Pickles

You might be wondering at this point, “but how do we even get to the tall sit from our elbow in the first place?”

To do so we like to use the cue of “twisting the top on/off of a jar.”

It’s common – and very easy – to simply pick up your arm and place your hand somewhere behind you.

While it might work “sometimes”, it won’t work all the time. Also, you’ve just lost a lot of tension in picking your arm completely off the floor. To our earlier points in Parts 2 and 3, what you can get away with using a light bell with pin you with a heavier bell.

To avoid losing tension, twisting your hand/elbow into the floor as you transition from your elbow to the tall sit position does a couple things:

  1. It helps you pack the shoulder of the “unloaded” arm and preps it to take the load of your body plus the weight of the bell in the next step, the leg sweep.
  2. It allows you to never lose contact with the floor – also allowing you to increase tension in your unloaded arm

It’ll take some practice and is completely unique to the individual. There are tips and positions that work better than others, but at the end of the day you’ll have to tinker with it.

Optimizing The Getup: Tall Sit - Tinker With It

The only way to truly master something is to tinker with it.

Play around, try new things (preferably things you're educated with), and see what works and what doesn’t work.

In particular with the tall sit, because our biomechanics are different from person to person, the elbow position in your roll to elbow might look different than the person training next to you or someone you see on instagram.

You might be OK transitioning from your elbow to your hand without moving your hand much at all.

No matter what make sure you move with tightness/tension.

This is where the “twist the top on/off a jar” cue comes into play. On the way up think of twisting the top on the jar. On the way down twist the top off the jar.

This ensures that no matter what you'll maintain optimal tension throughout the lift.

This leads to healthy shoulders, which leads to stronger shoulders, which leads to a stronger, healthier, happier you!

Optimizing The Getup: Tall Sit - Grease The Groove

By now you’re fully optimized and likely ready for the next step of the Getup, the leg sweep. However we’d encourage you not to rush these ground-based movements.

If you just trained your roll to elbow and your elbow to tall sit positions, you’d still increase your core stability, shoulder stability/mobility, and hamstring mobility.

That’s a lot of good for just 20% of a lift!

After you’ve tinkered with your position, practice it as much as you can. Pavel’s GTG (grease the groove) training is great for this.

Perform 5-10 singles a day working on your elbow to tall sit transition and positions.

We often have clients perform separate steps like these to help prep them for a training session or practice partial Getups during the training session.

Challenge yourself with different objects to make sure you truly own the position. You’d be surprised how challenging a Getup with a glass of water is compared to a Getup with a 48kg kettlebell.

Slow the movement down, tinker with it, own it, and don’t forget to breathe.

Next week we’ll breakdown Part 5 of Optimizing The Getup: The Leg Sweep.

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Stay tall and tight in those tall sit’s and