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The TGU is a flow state drill that targets 7 specific movements and requires not only mobility and stability, but strength and endurance; which makes it an effective drill for strength and corrective coaches alike.

Remember the Stages in the Get Up and break them down where necessary: (1) Fetal Position to Press, (2) Press to Elbow Position (3) Elbow Post to Hand Post (4) Post to High Pelvis (5) High Pelvis to Hip Hinge Bend (6) Hip Hinge Bend to Half Kneeling, (7) Half Kneeling to Standing.

The TGU benefits are all encompassing:

  • Improved shoulder stabilization
  • Improved Thoracic mobility and stability
  • Improved Hip stability in all pelvic positions
  • Reflexive Core control
  • Improved lumbo pelvic control through spinal, pelvic and shoulder alignment.
  • Improves balanced symmetry between right and left sides, as well as upper and lower quadrants
  • It can be used for postural feedback and mechanical awareness


Remembering that a screen is not an assessment, always use your best judgement; if there is pain or a red flag for potential risk, the client is not ready to perform the TGU. We know that from the joint by joint approach, problems with the neck could mean problems stemming from a different area of the body altogether. Problems in the shoulders, could mean sloppiness in the cervical spine or stiffness in the thoracic spine.

Let’s presume you have already performed the full FMS screen and have been working on your clients prerequisites for the TGU. This would include soft rolling upper and lower body patterns, and ensuring that you re screen that major patterns within the complex make up of the Turkish get up or get down. This would include:

From the Functional Movement Screen:

  • The shoulder mobility screen – which we know showcases not only the shoulders, but active flexion and extension in the thoracic spine.
  • The active straight leg raise screen – as this will showcase a client’s ability to perform flexion and extension at the hips, as well as lumbo pelvic control and hip disassociation.

Additional Screens:

  • Screen breathing patterns in both unloaded/relaxed, and performance breath – breathing patterns places emphasis on the diaphragm and significant load to the thorax.
  • Thoracic Spine Screen– screening the thoracic spine is critical, as this is required for proper packing of the shoulders and rotational stability coming from standing to half kneeling, as well as getting up to half kneeling with load. You can perform this right after the breathing. If you have not screen the prone press up and TSPU you can move into this easily through this sequenced screen.
  • Cervical Spine screen – to ensure there are no pre risks in the upper neck or tissue supporting the head.
  • Screen your client’s grip.  Grip strength can determine neurological restrictions in the hand related to the shoulder and ability to pack and move around the load in the get up.

A Corrective Approach to the TGU:

As movement prep, I warm my clients up with a little foam rolling to rehydrate and warm tissue. From there we review upper and lower body rolling patterns, working in biofeedback tools where necessary. From there a set of open and closed chain joint mobility sequences to help promote flow state movement and breath. The tool or type of equipment also matters. A dumbbell or power block doesn’t can wobble; whereas using a kettlbell will offer you more because of the nature of its design. The handle and offset center of gravity helps to pull the body into vertical, because of the placement of load. When the weight hangs from your hand, within that vector of gravity means less risk and more stabilization.   Reviewing where needed; the hip hinge, coassack lunge or shibox progressions depending on which style if TGU I may use (RKC vs EKG).

The Arm Bar & Ceiling Reach:

When we look at the structural anatomy and physiology of the shoulder we can deduce that it does two things; (1) compresses (as in the arm bar and TGU) and (2) it distracts (as in a single arm deadlift or snatch). The TGU focuses on compression of the joint. Both of these drills ask us to practice vertical placement of weight through the shoulder blade. Shoulder packing requires the shoulder girdle, the breath and the body to support load. Getting the joint stable and centered, so the client can work on the proprioceptive vertical. From here, you can teach the client to connect the vertical compression and shoulder packing to the initial hip drive required to start distributing load in the first stage of the get up. Teaching the client to drive from the hip, transferring that load to the shoulders encouraged clients to understand the connection between the shoulders and the hips. Practice stacking the shoulders in the finish position and driving the floor away (turning on as much tissue as they can). This is a whole body exercise right from the beginning, to the end.

Half Get Up:

Moving onto the first segment of the Turkish Get Up, we ask clients to practice incorporating the shoulder and core with this movement, as well as that hip drive.  The aid of the kettle bell intertwines the grip, breathing, and core to pack the shoulder and display balance under a load. One cue I use often for clients to “move your body around the kettlbell,” when you start keep your eye on the bell, move your body around the bell vs moving the bell to match your body. This prevents the athlete from pushing the bell forward, moving from underneath the bell.

Pay attention to the Grip:

Most often the grip is practically ignored in today’s training. Yet, we know from primitive patterning; strong hands lead to a strong body.  The hands also fire neurons to the brain, when you make a fist and your body recognizes fight or flight and will naturally pack the shoulder. The hands tie into the neurological system, as do our feet. They are the two most neglected sensory feedback tools we own and are a central nervous fatigue marker.  Practice exercises in the vertical and horizontal positions to strengthen your grip. Once you have mastered this, then move into practicing static holds, bottoms up in half kneeling, as this will also start to improve more hip stability needed to hinge in the half way position prior to loading into standing.



tacfit commando

The majority of physical preparedness programs and/or tactical training programs primarily focus on the musculoskeletal system as an independent entity. This style of program design and training still rely heavily on the traditional strength training model; rooted in the elements of body building or HIT (High Intensity Training) performance metrics.

Much like any sport, body building – is a sport – and requires specific exercises and periodization. Hockey is a sport; and hockey too requires specific sports specific exercises and periodization. If you were to take hockey specific exercises and apply it to body building – as a sport – would you expect your athlete to be successful? The answer would most likely be no.  What I am getting at is that the needs of a tactical officer, which in essence –  tactical training can be looked at as a “sport” because it is a profession that requires  high levels of intensity from the athlete and duty specific protocols.

Most program design for tactical operations neglect this understanding and do not take into account the systemic integration needed in training. By systemic, I mean not only the musculoskeletal system, but that of the nervous system and endocrine systems. Tactical fitness must include optimal recovery metrics, occupational stress prevention – preparing for the unprepared.

Scott Sonnon outlines this ideology perfectly in an interview with TACTICAL MAGAZINE in 2011;

Combative encounters are unique in that they require fine and complex motor skills performed at high intensity.

You lose untrained, fine motor skills at approximately 65% heart rate maximum. (Heart rate maximum is 220-age). You lose untrained, complex motor skills at approximately 85% heart rate maximum.

You can increase how long you keep the skills, but with each new situation, a new stressor. You can only adapt to specific threats. So, you may be able to remain calm during “simulation drills” but running up stairs, in the dark, carrying 40kgs of equipment, to an unknown threat, and if and when you are surprised, your chance of making mistakes increases substantially and the result is, you feel overwhelmed .  Whoever can recover fastest from surprise, mistakes and overwhelming odds… wins. All tactical fitness must be functional, but not all functional fitness is tactical. The focus of functional fitness is to balance the physiological form: muscular symmetry without compensations or imbalanced musculature. Tactical fitness must be balanced, but the focus is also on preparing high stress through tactically specific movements”


Successful tactical programs include education behind how our body metabolizes and regulates stress and recovery. This boils down to two fundamental systems; the nervous system, and the endocrine system. If an athlete understand the biochemical responses, transmissions and transfers within their body; they will have greater success in energy output, intensity levels and when faced with unprepared threats.

When you factor in the necessary shift work, sleep deprivation and cognitive degrade that occurs when working long hours, or during long deployments, when you must be ready at the drop of a hat – this information could be critical; to not only your own health, but to the health of your team.



The human nervous system is composed of two parts: the central nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord, and the peripheral nervous system, which is composed of nerves and nerve networks throughout the body. The two main components of the nervous system, I have been especially interested in during my research into tactical training and response, is the somatic nervous system and the parasympathetic system, but let’s give you a run-down of the nervous system in its entirety.

The peripheral system (PNS) is composed of a number of nerves that extend outside of the central nervous system. The PNS can be further divided into two different systems: the somatic nervous system and the autonomic nervous system.

The autonomic nervous system is responsible for involuntary functions, as well as emotional responses like sweating or crying.

Somatic Nervous System: The somatic system transmits sensory communications and is responsible for voluntary movement and action. This system is composed of both sensory (afferent) neurons, which carry information from the nerves to the brain and spinal cord, and motor (efferent) neurons, which transmit information from the central nervous system to the muscle fibers. These are our transmission and communication highways.

Fight or Flight and Recovery:

The Sympathetic Nervous System: The sympathetic system controls the body’s response to emergencies.  Known as the fight or flight response, this system responds by preparing your body to either fight the danger or flee.

 The parasympathetic nervous system functions to counter the sympathetic system and restore the body’s functions. This system helps to calm the body, slows the heart and breathing etc.

How are the endocrine and nervous system linked? The brain structure known as the hypothalamus connects these two important communication systems together. The hypothalamus is a tiny collection of nuclei that is responsible for controlling an astonishing amount of behavior.  Yet, in most training programs the necessary education into the “why” we train and the “how” our body operates is still stuck in just the response and effects on the musculoskeletal systems, not how we internally respond, improve, degrade, progress, regress, etc. These two systems are paramount, and to be tactical operators and officers is a necessity.


The endocrine system is a collection of glands that produces a wide variety of chemical messengers called hormones; which are necessary for normal bodily functions. These hormones regulate processes such as metabolism, growth, digestion, and response to stress. The glands release the hormones directly into the bloodstream where they are transported to organs and to tissues via our interconnected matrix highways. At these target organs and tissues, the secreted hormone evokes a specific, pre-programmed response from the targeted cells; much like a special ops mission – always ready. The specific functions of the endocrine system include:

  1. regulating the chemical composition and volume of the body
  2. regulating metabolism and energy balance, including digestion
  3. regulating contraction of smooth and cardiac muscle
  4. maintaining homeostasis even during crisis events
  5. regulating components of the immune system, and
  6. regulating the integration of growth and development.

Thus, appealing to the endocrine system is one way in which the body coordinates its actions with information collected from the environment. The endocrine system is responsible for teaching the body to react to the physical, emotional and mental stress around us. If you are not operating at your optimal levels, apply that to your profession. If you are police officer and are confronted with a suspect, can you effectively neutralize the situation? Will you be able to run down a suspect, or anticipate aggressive behaviour? If you are on deployment as a military officer, if you are taking the late watch; will your senses be sharp enough to ensure your platoon’s safety from insurgents? These are questions, you need to be 100% able to respond nothing short of; Yes, sir.


While the endocrine system consists of several different glands that secrete over 50 different hormones, the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland control such a broad range of bodily functions that they are often referred to as the master control center. Here is a breakdown of the major operations:

Hypothalamus: The hypothalamus is located in the brain. It regulates many aspects of the body, such as heart rate, body temperature, water balance, and the amount of glandular secretions from the pituitary. It secretes hormones that help regulate the pituitary gland and also responds to their presence in a feedback mechanism.

Pituitary Gland: This small gland is tightly connected with the hypothalamus and secretes two hormones of particular interest to athletes. Anti-diuretic hormone( ADH ) promotes water re-absorption in the kidneys and is released from the pituitary when sensors in the hypothalamus determine that the blood is too concentrated, i.e., when dehydration occurs. For those deployed, away from water sources, or in hot climates, this could be critical. Adrenocorticotropic hormone ( ACTH ) stimulates the adrenal gland to produce cortisol; while the pituitary secretes numerous other hormones necessary for growth and survival. Because cortisol is secreted under duress; and your nervous system cannot differentiate between physical, mental or emotional stress; occupations that require higher stress overall means the secretion of this chemical could degrade function. When your immune system is working overtime, your body relies on that fight or fight response, which if cortisol gets to high  – remains turned on, like an alarm clock you can’t shut off. More on that in the adrenal gland section below.

Adrenal Glands: We have two adrenal glands, one on top of each kidney in the lower back. Each gland consists of an outer layer called the cortex and an inner core called the medulla. Secretion from the adrenal medulla is controlled via the nervous system, whereas ACTH controls secretion from the adrenal cortex. The major hormones produced by the adrenal medulla are adrenaline (also called epinephrine ) and a related hormone called noradrenaline ( norepinehprine ). These hormones cause the changes that occur during an emergency situation ( the fight-or-flight response ). Such changes include: increased heart and breathing rate, increased blood flow to muscles, cessation of digestion, and increased blood glucose levels and metabolic rate. The adrenal cortex produces two main classes of hormones: glucocorticoids and mineralcorticoids. The main glucocorticoid hormone, cortisol, promotes the breakdown of muscle proteins into amino acids that enter blood. The resulting increase in amino acid levels in the blood then causes higher glucose blood levels when the liver breaks down these amino acids. Cortisol also favors metabolism of fatty acids over carbohydrates. This hormone works in opposition to insulin, raising blood glucose levels. In a different mode, cortisol counteracts the inflammatory response that can lead to the pain and swelling of joints in arthritis and bursitis. Most PPE’s are 20 – 50lbs, therefore, even something as small as your uniform must be taken into account in training and how your systems function overall. Increase in inflammation; means increase in load and a decrease in optimal functionality. Your 30lbs PPE starts to feel like 40lbs.


The endocrine system can become fatigued just like a muscle that is continually overworked. At some point it just can’t produce the stress hormones as it should. A tired ( but not damaged ) muscle may recover in 24 to 48 hours, but it takes an overused endocrine system weeks to recover and in an operator or offcier’s schedule this could mean the difference between life or lethal.

During high intensity training cortisol serves the body well by mobilizing energy stores and reducing inflammation. Afterwards, it temporarily blocks the desirable effects of insulin, and repair of the body is slowed. This is why recovery and recovery protocols, along with joint mobility is so important.

Even when the cortisol levels fall to normal after a few days, there are lingering effects from the disturbance of the endocrine system. If the body is called upon to respond to stress again, adequate levels of cortisol cannot be produced, resulting in a crash or hitting the way response. All motor control slows, along with mental fortitude.

The varied nature of these symptoms points to suppression at the level of the central nervous system hypothalamus/pituitary axis. That is, it isn’t just one gland that isn’t working right nor is it some simple nutrient deficiency.

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In Closing:

When setting up a tactical training program, these are two major system you should consider learning more about, so that you can fully understand the needs and requirements of your body moving into the phase transitions of your periodization. If your mentality is to “go hard, or go home,” you may very well be going home yourself. Training to injury or illness will result in less operations readiness, and less effectiveness in the field or on patrol. For most, this requires a mental paradigm shift, but it may be one that could very well save your life.

Respect and Honor 



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