Monday, April 20, 2009

Turkish Get Up (TGU) High Pelvis or High Hip Bridge: Anthony Diluglio's Critique and Gray Cook's Comments - analysis

The Turkish Get Up (TGU) is a great full body move that develops strength, stamina, core and coordination. It's well worth adding to anyone's practice, whether that is mainly yoga, strength or endurance. Of late there's been an argument or debate about a particular variant that's become known as the "hard style TGU." The critique is lead by Anthony Diluglio of Art of Strength, and it's of the RKC's and Gray Cook's teaching of the high hip bridge as a move in the TGU. This piece is an effort to bring Dilugio's Critique of and Cook's Comments on the Bridge together for your informed consideration for how you'd like to practice.

(Update 1, on TGU as possible cheap movement screen)

The HardStyle/Maxwell TGU
Maybe because i did an overview post of the "hardstyle" turkish getup now being taught at RKC certs, folks know i'm interested in this move. Recently, a great colleague, Rannoch Donald, and i were talking about this move in terms of what Anthony Diluglio has said about one part of this move in particular: the high hip bridge, or the "three point bridge" as Gray Cook calls it (shown below, demo'd by the man who brought the bridge to the RKC, Mark Cheng).

Figure 1: Mark Cheng demoing Hip Bridge in TGU

Dilugio's critique was posted at his site's "Minute of Strength" bulletin #105 titled (alas) "the right way"

The Right Way from art of strength on Vimeo.

IF you don't have time to watch the vid, Diluglio prefers leaving the hip down before sweeping the leg under to get to the the half kneeling position.

Now ironically, Diluglio titles this piece "corrective strategies" which seems a rif on Cook's Functional Movement Screen Corrective Strategies - an approach that Anthony has himself celebrated and "has adopted" (see bottom of page), so it's provocative to refer to his presentation as the move "done properly." What does that mean (that's what i wanted to know)?

Diluglio says of this bridge, as he models it here (Fig 2) "there's no tension in your core right now"

Figure 2: Anthony Diluglio's Vid of Hip Bridge

But in his version, where the hip is dropped and the post leg lifted (shown below), he asserts, there is.
Figure 3: Diluglio showing the hover position with hip dropped

Maybe it's where the video cuts in on Diluglio, but i didn't see the high hip bridge that Cheng demo's above (fig 1), and so the psoas/glutes would not be as fired as in a properly executed bridge. But despite that, Diluglio's argument goes on that in his version with the dropped hip, he's "stabilized like hell." Stabilized what, for what? Let's assume it's "the core" - we'll come back to that too. But for what? possibly heavy loads?

Diluglio's main critique, besides historical accuracy of the move, is that, he asserts, the high hip bridge "disconnects the core" and that to pull the leg through you have to drop the hip anyway, so why bother? Why indeed! the point of this article. We'll come back to that.

And so, Diluglio concludes, that what he's demoing is a deliberate, connected "movement pattern." Since Gray Cook is rather the champion of movement patterns, saying that his version is doing the TGU properly as a movement pattern is rather throwing down a red flag. Especially when on his newsletter he says of this version that it represents a movement that "if left unaddressed would have led to injury for both them and whomever they taught afterwards. "

So since i repect Anthony Diluglio's work (and have reviewed his awesome newport workout elsewhere), i wanted to get a better understanding of the rationale for the hip bridge.

It turns out i'm in the middle of reviewing Gray Cook and Brett Jones Kalos Sthenos DVD set all about the TGU, so went there first for an answer. Unfortunately, while the DVD does present the hip bridge, and it does provide a great set of corrective strategies to achieve it, it does not go into detail as to WHY this part of the move has been introduced.

In the manual by Mark Cheng that is available for the DVD, mark writes that this "Post to High Pelvis" is to "develop hip extension and to serve tactical purposes." Mark goes on:

For tactical purposes, the high pelvic bridge develops the ability to drive the hips upward and forward to create space for moving the leg backward into a more favorable base.
Well hmm. I guess i'm not sure what a "tactical purpose" is in the TGU - that's not likely Mark's fault; i don't have a martial background, but as for movement for leg clearing, Diluglio makes a pretty compelling demo that the hip down offers no difficulty in getting the leg into position in that "more favorable base." Indeed his point is that he can achieve this "tactic" quicker and better with the hip down.

So, neither the DVD nor the manual provide a reply to the main critique of Anthony's: that the core is disonnected, and there is a consequent loss of stability.

After raising this with colleagues over at the RKC instructor forum, David Whitley pointed to a podcast by Gray Cook addressing these issues head on. Thanks to RKC Eric Moss for the link from the dragondoor site. I'm sorry i don't have a date for the podcast - will update as soon as i have one.

Here's an overview of what Cook says:

Rationale for the approach: it's a great (self) screen for any athlete:
  • the motivation for focusing on the TGU in Kalos Sthenos has been, in part, as a type of screen - it shows up alot of the same issues that come up in the poor movement screening
  • single leg bridges as Mark demo'd in the TGU are welcome because they put the hip flexor against the glute and "the hip extends as opposed to the low back; " a quad dominant athlete will give back rather than hip extension.
  • that move is likely controversial because it's hard
  • it's "an intensional speed bump" - to slow down and pay attention
  • It's a great corrective strategy to help with a weak thomas test that shows a hard time opening the hips
  • As a screen it shows the problem before you know what to correct
Historical Context
  • They didn't invent the three point hip extension - they've seen it and many other variants in their review of the TGU
  • People in the 19th Century doing calisthenics in the gym with indian clubs and rope climbing and deep squatting in unison had much better mobility than most folks do today.
It's not the only way to do it, but it honors each stage of the move so one can do any variant well:
  • Have encouraged Anthony Diluglio to look at WHY they're doing the move this way.
  • "Are we letting people through the get up, or are we catching them at a place that could hurt them later on in say more "extravagant" kettlebell moves?
  • The TGU is one of the few fullbody moves with the KB - it honors mobility and stability; hits the left and right side. It's not about strength; it's about moving and all three planes.
  • Once you've got this TGU variant totally down - all the corrections are there - DO WHATEVER GET UP YOU WANT
  • Don't skip it because you don't like it - it's challenging:
Some of the high hip bridge variant's physiology:
  • the Lat on the left = glute on the right (via anatomy trains), and that will be challenging for some folks
  • it also reveals janda's crossed syndrome: tight psoas with a glute that could be better.
  • puts athletes up against a problem
  • Use this as a Corrective strategy to see if you can clear your hips as well as you thought.
  • The get up is not about how quick or how much you can get up; it's about honoring each stage of the exercise.
  • No one's is more historically accurate or not; this one cleans up your movement.
Memorable Quote:
The purpose and nature of coaching is to hold you up against your weakest links, to expose you to a weakness to allow you to rise to a challenge so your opponent or life does not find your weakness.
Putting it Together:
Does the above address the concerns raised by Anthony Diluglio?

About the core disconnected: well, the high hip bridge, properly executed, is pulling the psoas with the glute to work hip extension rather than back extension. The psoas and glutes both are considered two of the big five of the core muscle sets in "the core" (pdf)
As part of the "upper core" - the lats are also well engaged with the shoulder, thoracic spine, scapula (word doc about upper/lower core)

As Cook points out, and as a survey will quickly show, hip bridge work is pretty common core training. So, don't quite see a disconnected core in a hip bridge.

The next assertion is safety: that people will hurt themselves. It's not clearly explained in the accompanying vid why a high hip bridge may lead to injury, and it's only asserted in the text on the page. There is a quick mention in the video about how this move is a strength move with weight and some speed ("boom boom boom") - perhaps the implication is that the high hip bridge can't be maintained with weight?

If that's the assertion, to go back to Cook, this movement isn't seen as a strength move; it's seen about "honouring each part of the move." In the RKC, and indeed in the CK-FMS and in Kalos Sthenos, a form of learning the move is "naked" (without weight) - in order to get each part of the move dialed in. After that, a shoe is balanced on a closed fist, to get arm position dialed in. In other words, when learning and checking movement issues, there's no point adding weight to dysfunction.

One might say, well ah ha, then you can't use this move for real heavy loads.

I dunno about that, but more particularly, i dunno if that's the point. Cook's point seems to be, the high hip bridge in the TGU is a great point to find your weakest link.

If it's showing up in lack of ability to get hip extension, maybe that should be a sign unto you. If you can get this version dialed in, as Cook states, go ahead and do whatever version you'd like. As Cook also says, he could make arguments in support of the high hip bridge, Diluglio's "hover" (as cook calls it) and the squat version (which he says he's often seen with a lot of valgus knee collapse and other issues because only 20% of the present population can do a deep squat properly). THe rationale for this version is to reveal the weakness and provide the opportunities to correct it.

This is actually how i've been using the TGU in my own practice - as a great way to look at an athlete's movement issues. It's great if i don't have the FMS kit, or want to illustrate something to an athlete graphically about left/right side differences in performance. I've also seen it as a great corrective strategy for the same reasons.

So, i can't quite follow the argument that it's not safe.
I could imagine that if folks have learned this high hip bridge method, but have not yet done the work to correct their performance to get that high hip bridge, doing it sort of the way we see Anthony in the photo above, then, well, as Cook says, that mobility/stability issue may show up as a performance limiter later on, that could lead to injury. But that's different than the move itself being unsafe.

It *is* a strength move, Dam it.
Cook talks about the move being about mobility/stability rather than strength - the way they're using it, as prepatory to other KB/strength work.

Now again some folks may say well i don't care about this corrective stuff; i just want to use it as a strength move (as demonstrated by John Wild Buckley TGU'ing a live lithe human being).

And that's fine. In fact it's kinda fun.

So, no advocacy of superiority of one form over the other here. Do what you do. It seems, however, the question Cook and Co. are asking is simply:
how's your mobility/stability getting there? And if you can back off the speed and the weight to really look, what do you see? and seeing it, what do you do?

(Anthony, if i've missed something, please shout, and i'll get it in.)

Hope this helps anyone else who may have been having the same questions about this approach.

update post: tgu's relation to the fms: cheap screen or not?

related posts: zhealth - about || zhealth assessment


Randy Hauer said...

My Brief History w/ The Get Up
(long comment tho')
Let me reply to your post with a digression because after some reflection I've had to get off my high horse about this myself:

My personal experience with the TGU started in 2001 with the pictures of Steve Maxwell performing one in the original RKC book. That was my only model and I pieced my version of the TGU from it...which was more of a roll to elbow to sitting version with no bridge to speak of.

In 2005 before I did the RKC, Jason C Brown showed me how he did a TGU...this was a more athletic version of the one I had been performing involving a low bridge to three point kneel. At the cert, Steve Cotter demo'd his version of the Get up (forget about the two bell version...everyone besides Steve who pulls this off does so ugly. Unless you can get into a split while sitting with 2 KBs overhead and scissor up to standing using only adductor/hip extensor strength, you are doing a poor imitation) and further refined my grasp of the lift.

In 2006 I picked up a few more pointers from Maxwell himself when I assisted at the RKC.

In 2008 as TL I was tasked along with then TL and now RKC Sr Shaun Cairns to teach the get up. I had seen the new getup as demo'd by Doc Cheng from an advance copy of the manual and frankly, even after telephone discussions with Mark, I didn't get it.

2009 Kalos Sthenos...I finally get a copy and after thinking back 8 years I think I got it. There really isn't a OTW (one true way) turkish get up. There's a multitude of different ways to get off the deck get up style. Every Sr RKC has had a take on it and had a different fine point or two. In the end, I think how you approach the get up is entirely dependent on what you are trying to accomplish with it.

This is my take: Up until last year, the get up had been more dependent on the weight used to really get your attention on how to fire the core they way it needed to be fired. And the get up had been taught for years in the safest way possible to accomodate getting a respectable load overhead to accomplish that. FTGU/Kalos Sthenos is "another kind" of get up and is about using a set of rigorous movement patterns to screen out and correct weaknesses in a full body movement. If one can do a "perfect" Kalos Sthenos get up with a medium load, my guess is (and I'm experimenting with this now) that the loads one can do with the "low sweep" styles of get up will increase dramatically. Think of the Kalos Sthenos high bridge version as "a deep skill" movement practice, not the end all be all solution to the Turkish Get Up.

Just my 2 cents.

dr. m.c. said...

Randy, thanks for taking the time to give the historical perspective in particular on this move's development in the KB scene.

Really worth having.

It will also be cool to see how, as you say, the medium load kalos sthenos style translates to the heavier lower sweep style, and its form.

thanks again,

Shaf said...

"People in the 19th Century doing calisthenics in the gym with indian clubs and rope climbing and deep squatting in unison had much better mobility than most folks do today."

This was an extremely small population compared to people who exercise today. While today's average person is in much poorer physical condition than a 19th century denizen, you really have to think about the reality of the situation and how many people had the leisure time or money to devote to physical culture.

In addition to this, the assertion about ye olde timey strongman not allowing trainees to lift weights until they do a 100# get up is from just a single source, and in no way represented how other strongman recommended their mail order or even personal clients to train. I've always taken issue with this, but with the new Get-Up product, the myth continues to be propagated.


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