Turkish Get-Ups

with Mike Aidala

Mike Aidala has created a name for himself by completing unorthodox lifts, including a 315 lb Single Arm Overhead Squat. He’s built a wealth of experience as a strength coach, running ultramarathons, and teaching yoga across the world. All of this has pushed him to the forefront in the fitness industry as a leading Men’s Performance Coach. Mike’s curiosity towards further physical, mental, and emotional development led him to the complexity of the Turkish Get-Up. This movement involves starting flat on your back, followed by pressing the weight overhead and proceeding to get up from the ground. Performed throughout history, this exercise has been a symbol for total body strength and physical excellence.

Within weeks of training, Mike was able to successfully lift his body weight – 205 lbs – for one rep. But his pursuit towards mastery of the Get-Up didn’t end there. With less than 10 weeks to prepare, he set out to break the World Record for Most Weight Lifted in One Hour and raise awareness for a cause that sent ripples through his family for generations.

THE WHY

“Once you have conquered the get-up you will be the master of your body, not its guest,”
- Pavel Tsatsouline

The Turkish Get-Up demands mastery of several disciplines: strength, stability, and technique. Fascination with this movement has led elite athletes to compete for the world record for maximum poundage lifted in one hour by Turkish Get-Up. The current Guinness World Record was recently broken with a total of 12,998.5 lbs. Upon discovering the record, Mike’s competitive spirit left him no choice. He had to beat it.

“I believe that chasing the impossible, and taking small steps towards that goal, and finally achieving that goal – builds a ton of confidence.”

Mike isn’t intimidated by the impossible. It’s adversity itself that drives him towards constant improvement and places him in the flow state. Instead of setting his sights on merely breaking the current record, he’s hungry for more. He will attempt to shatter it by lifting 15,000 lbs in one hour.

Looking ahead towards this challenge, he knew he wanted this feat to be more than just another accolade. Mike’s grandfather – a Vietnam War Veteran – deeply struggled with mental health before he died by suicide. Following this traumatic loss, his family faced emotional distress for years. In response to this experience, Mike decided to partner with Mission 22 for his record breaking attempt. Mission 22 is an organization focused on veteran mental health and suicide prevention.

For Aidala, this challenge would be a chance to realize his physical potential, and also support a cause that has impacted his family and many others across the country. Through this feat, he hopes to break the stigma and bring awareness to the resources available for those who are struggling with mental health.

THE PREP

Maintaining a maximal effort pace over 60 minutes takes far more than pure strength. Breaking the record will require extreme physical conditioning, along with mental fortitude to push past severe exhaustion.

“Cardio has never really been my thing – at first I was totally smoked.”

Going into his preparation, Mike knew he needed to focus on volume and find the right formula for success. He began experimenting with various kettlebell weights and tested several intervals of work and rest. His program was centered around two hard training days a week, the first being a high volume session to improve his muscular and cardiovascular endurance. The second session included heavier weight to develop his strength and stability. Workouts were two hours and broken into intervals of 20 minutes on, 10 minutes off. This allowed Aidala to simulate the specificity of the event while preparing his body for the workload.

Conditioning is essential, but technique comes first. He became obsessed with the Turkish Get-Up and took a methodical approach to the exercise. Analyzing the movement, he decided to prioritize his shoulder stability and breath control. These would be the limiting factors that would add the most resistance during his record attempt. Perfecting the lift elicited the benefit of maximizing energy conservation and limiting muscular fatigue. Although a strong suit for Aidala, he reinforced his stability training to aid in executing the technique.

Juggling travel and his recovery from COVID-19, Mike never considered backing out of his attempt. He buckled down and put every ounce of energy he had into his remaining workouts. With the event two weeks away, he completed his most difficult training session yet. He structured the workout with game day conditions, including an 88 lb kettlebell in each hand for two hours broken into intervals of 20 minutes on, 10 minutes off. After finishing that session, Mike knew he was ready.

THE CHALLENGE

Most workouts aren’t filled with bright lights and a crowd watching. They’re grueling sessions day in and day out. There are no cameras, just you and the unforgiving weight. Trading in sweat equity for continual progression. The morning of the record attempt felt different though. This morning was full of emotion. Friends, family, and various veterans had come to support his record breaking attempt. Resisting the feeling of overwhelm, Aidala recentered his focus on the task at hand.

Once the clock started, Mike got right to work. With his lofty 15,000 lb goal in mind, he opted for a 97 lb kettlebell in his right hand and a 88 lb kettlebell in his left hand. This was a last-minute decision, as he’d spent weeks training with only 88 lbs in each hand. His strategy would require him to maintain a pace of 4 reps every 90 seconds. As supporters tallied the reps, the intensity raged on.

Feeling the buzz of the crowd, Aidala stayed focused on his breath as he performed each technical rep. He knew maintaining a relatively low heart rate was key for conserving energy over the 60 minutes. Mentally, he broke down the challenge into three 20 minute segments. Sweat beading off his head band, he continued to roll left to right pressing up rep after rep. Chalking his hands began to feel as repetitious as the reps themselves. Everything was going to plan – until it wasn’t. As Mike went to press off his lead leg, his back foot slipped causing him to drop the kettlebell. This not only took time off the clock, but shook his confidence.

“I had never dropped a kettlebell in training. I kept slipping on my back foot as I lunged upward…it was discouraging. I had to get my mind back focused.”

Laying with his back on the chalk covered floor, he began to question himself. With another 30 minutes to go, he could feel the pressure building. The clock continued to tick, and fatigue was settling in. Surrounded by his father’s military medals and family pictures, Mike drew from raw emotion and adrenaline in the last 30 minutes.

With the record slipping away, he recentered his focus. Like clockwork, Mike rolled back and forth grabbing each kettlebell, pressing it overhead and willing his body up. He decided to alter his approach to 3 reps every 90 seconds so that he could maintain his output. This would allow him to keep his momentum without sacrificing time by taking a break or missing reps. As a friend let him know he had passed the current record, Mike continued to press another rep and build upon his total. To him, it’s not just about breaking the record, but discovering where his physical potential lies. The clock struck zero and Mike laid there with his body utterly drained.

Although he fell short of his targeted 15,000 lb total, he was able to secure the world record with a 13,823 lbs. Even more impressive, Aidala was able to raise nearly $6,000 for mental health and suicide prevention research. Mike’s effort was in honor of the millions struggling with mental health that are fighting for a better tomorrow.

Mike's Final Results:

74 reps with 88.6lb KB
75 with 97lb KB
13,823 total weight lifted over the time period of 1hr

“If you're going through hell, keep going.”

- Winston Churchill

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