Strengthen every function of your core with this unique exercise. As a bonus, you’ll improve overhead strength and shoulder health.
You might think sit-ups and leg raises are the keys to a strong core. They certainly help. However, true core strength isn’t just about flexion work but also stability, balance, and working against things like flexion, overextension, and spinal rotation. So, what works? Bringing a heavy weight overhead. The Turkish sit-up nails your entire core. Plus, it improves overhead strength along with shoulder mobility and stability.
The dual-kettlebell Turkish sit-up has some similarities to the Turkish get-up, but it’s a sit-up, and you use two kettlebells instead of one. It trains several core functions, like flexing the spine, bringing the ribs towards the hips, stabilizing the spine against flexion, extension, and rotation in the top position, plus resisting abrupt extension on the way down.
Holding and balancing two kettlebells overhead in the sit-up position requires significant core and shoulder engagement. Keeping your arms straight and working against the kettlebells, which tend to move around, works pretty much all the shoulder-stabilizing muscles throughout the full range of motion. It doesn’t just target the superficial muscles but also the deeper stabilizing muscles.
Select two kettlebells of equal weight. Lie on your back with the kettlebells pressed over each shoulder. Keep your legs straight.
Press the kettlebells straight up with elbows locked, then start the sit-up by pushing them slightly forward to help raise your shoulders off the ground. Bring your ribs towards your hips. Keep your arms locked out and the kettlebells directly above your shoulders as you continue to sit up.
At the end of the sit-up, you should have your upper body and arms in one line: perpendicular to the floor with legs straight and toes pointed.
On the way down, control the descent by rolling slowly back to the ground.
Repeat for reps. Stop before your form breaks down.
Pair these with GHD back extensions for a nice agonist/antagonist superset.
Start Light: You’ll probably have a stronger and weaker arm. Use a kettlebell weight that both arms can handle; otherwise, it’ll lead to compromised form and too much stress on the weaker limb. Always prioritize movement quality and control over weight. Work towards balance and smoothness.
Don’t Rush: This exercise requires a lot of control and stability. Moving too quickly compromises form, reduces effectiveness, and creates injury risks. Take your time. Control the first half of the sit-up just as much as you control the way down.