A New Training Tool from the Past

In this monthly series of articles, Mike will discuss the science and practice of physical training for Water Polo.  Strength, flexibility, Water Polo science, rehab and other areas of interest with respect to the physical development of the Water Polo athlete will be covered.


A tool older then the sport of Water Polo has been making a strong impression on some of the top teams in Hungary and in the USA.

National Hungarian Champions VASAS, potential future Hungarian champs FTC (who have been in 1st place for much of this season) and San Jose State uses them as part of their dry-land training program, not to mention other pro sport teams such as the NFL Colts.

What are all these teams using as a main ingredient in their dry-land/strength training sessions?



A 'kettlebell' or girya (Russ.) is a traditional Russian cast iron weight that looks like a cannonball with a handle. The ultimate tool for extreme all-round fitness.

The kettlebell goes way back, it first appeared in a Russian dictionary in 1704 (Cherkikh, 1994). So popular were kettlebells in Tsarist Russia that any strongman or weightlifter was referred to as a girevik, or 'a kettlebell man'.

"Not a single sport develops our muscular strength and bodies as well as kettlebell athletics," reported Russian magazine Hercules in 1913.

from: http://www.russiankettlebells.com/

In this article I will discuss one of the fundamental kettlebell exercises that can dramatically improve the durability, strength and flexibility of the entire body, not to mention building bullet proof and resilient shoulders in the process.
If I had just one exercise it might just be this exact exercise I am talking about, “The Turkish Get Up” (TGU).

“My job is exercise, injury prevention, and performance enhancement. I start with the TGU. I finish with the TGU. I check progress with the TGU ...”

Jon Torine, head strength coach, Indianapolis Colts Football (NFL)

Upon initial inspection, the Turkish Get Up (TGU) is a fairly simple move and only has a few “rules”.

The basic premise is to transition your body from a supine position (lying on your back) to standing up while keeping one of your arms straight and perpendicular to the ground at all times. The arm that is straight will be the arm holding the kettlebell.


That is the basics of the TGU, but there is so much more to this exercise. I have been performing the TGU several times/week for the last 18 months and I am still learning and refining the movement and in another 18 months I will probably say the exact same thing.

Before you go get a Kettlebell I highly recommend that you first learn the Naked Get Up. Yes, I said naked but no need to take off your clothes. It simply means you will be doing the exercise with no external weight with the exception of one of your shoes or sandals.

Of course you can do the TGU with a dumbbell, barbell or as some other very strong folks do with another human being but it really works BEST using the kettlebell. Don't worry if you do not have any kettlebells, start with the naked version for at least the first month; it's harder then it looks.

In the video below I demonstrate the Naked Get UP. There are many finer details of this movement then what you see upon initial inspection but I will say this, for your shoulder health always keep both shoulders down and away from the ears, keep them sucked into the shoulder sockets. In the RKC school of strength we call this shoulder packing. When the shoulder is “packed” it is very strong and stable.

Naked Get Up Video Link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QLEFXUoyzE



Do not underestimate this exercise and do not be surprised if it is very humbling when you first try it.

That's OK, I have been there and the TGU humbles me on an almost daily basis. Practice several times/week and you will begin noticing big changes in only a short period of time.

I will open a thread on the message board with the title of this article. Please leave your comments, questions, suggestions, experiences, ... on the message board.

I can also be reach directly through my website: www.waterpolotraining.net


Tsatsouline P. Russian Kettlebell Challenge – Instructor Manual, 21st Edition, Class of Spring 2009. Dragon Door Publications, Inc. www.dragondoor.com

Cheng M, Cook G, Jones B. Kettlebells from the Ground Up - The Kalos Sthenos. DVD & Manual. © Gray Cook & Functional Movement Systems, 2008 – www.functionalmovement.com & www.dragondoor.com

[Click Mike Reid's name at top of page to learn more about his
strength training & conditioning experiences and his web sites.]