In 2022, it’s safe to say that to achieve a world record these days, you have to look for things that are obscure or so outlandish so as to never have been attempted before. Few people have stepped into a gym, witnessed the performance of a Turkish get-up and thought, “that’s something I’d not only like to try, but do repeatedly for an hour.” The movement is one that’s gruelling, but of course therein lies the challenge and for strength coach Mike Aidala, it was an opportunity to test his resolve.
“The Turkish getup movement symbolises the struggles of life,” he said, prior to attempting the World Record. “When life knocks you flat on your back, you need to lift yourself back up and stand tall. The more you practice standing back up, the stronger you’ll become.”
In the latest episode of Ten Thousand’s Feats of Strength, Aidala tries to achieve a new world record for the most weight lifted by Turkish getup in one hour. He partnered with veteran suicide prevention organisation Mission 22 for the attempt, raising awareness for mental health struggles among veterans in the process – an issue that is close to him and his family.
For the uninitiated, the Turkish get-up involves a sequence of seven motions that see you go from lying on your side, to kneeling, before finally standing stall. That alone sounds like the steps to a dance routine we’d likely stuff up, but it’s made all the more difficult by the fact that for the duration of these movements, you’re having to hold a kettlebell over your head. Yep, it’s a real doozy.
As Emily Abbate reported for GQ, the name supposedly heralds from the Turkish military. While we’re not willing to stake our lives on that fact (although it certainly sounds legitimate), these days the Turkish get-up has become a go-to move for those looking to double down on their fitness routines and get in shape fast. There’s good reason for it, too. This is, as you’ll see, a full-body exercise. You’re not just giving the biceps a good workout here, you’re also recruiting stabiliser muscles and the larger groups, helping to see you through the various movement patterns. The best part of course, is that it requires little equipment. A kettlebell if you’ve got one handy, or really just any kind of household appliance that’s weighty to the hand.
To achieve the record, Aidala would have to beat 12,998.5 pounds (approximately 5,896 kilograms). On the day, Aidala sets out to lift a combined total of 15,000 pounds (approximately 6,804 kilograms) by using a 97-pound kettlebell in his left hand and 88-pound kettlebell in his right. To stay at that maximum effort for a full hour is no easy feat, testing your strength just as much as it does your mental resilience. Not surprisingly, mindfulness was something Aidala regularly incorporated into his fitness routine. “I’ve been focusing on yoga, meditation, and spending a lot of time in nature,” he says.
It’s this that helped him break the record, lifting 13,823 pounds in total (approximately 6,269 kilograms) – 900 pounds more than the original record. “I wasn’t counting for as much of the emotional aspect,” he said following the endeavour. “That really took a toll on my body and my mind and my heart. The Turkish getup is one that spikes your heart rate, and if you post that red line you’ll just burn out, so I was trying to flirt with that line as much as I could. And I’m proud of that.”