The ‘Baby GetUp’

November 25, 2011

I attended a Movement Dysfunction workshop by my friend and mentor Dr. Craig Liebenson at Joe Dowdells’s Peak Performance Gym in New York City and I saw it for the first time.

There it was…the Baby GetUp! (BGU)

Dr. Liebenson actually performed the maneuver on Joe Dowdell himself and I knew immediately how I could use it for bringing my evaluations to a new dimension.  I absolutely must give total props and kudos to Dr. Liebenson for exposing me to the Baby Getup.  I had never seen this movement assessment before and was fascinated by the information it could provide regarding muscle sequencing.

What impressed me the most? The pure simplicity of the maneuver and the subtle information it can divulge about movement symmetry, durability factors and injury risk. An individual with a keen eye for assessing movement and why sequencing matters in every aspect of daily living will find the GetUp an invaluable tool.

Bruce Lee once said,

Simplicity is the key to brilliance

And the BGU proves it.

The BGU is a regression of patterning seen in the traditional Turkish Getup. It is a system of determining if an individual has the proper neuromuscular sequencing pattern to accomplish a fundamental pattern of movement. In my opinion, if someone struggles with the Baby Getup they have not earned the right to perform a Full Turkish GetUp or any standing rotational exercise, loaded or unloaded! Sure, they could power through the exercises, but they would be using improper muscle activation to accomplish the task which defeats the purpose of corrective exercise.

In short, the body will compensate any way it can to reach the goal you are asking it to hit. Your brain will do it in a functional or dysfunctional way depending on what it has to work with. It could care less if it gets there the right way or the wrong way. It has one mission, get from point A to point B.


Because your brain is telling it to!  In essence, strong muscles get stronger and weak muscles get weaker (from a neural activation point first, strength second, and endurance third). In movement exercise we want precision and quality of execution. The ‘neural groove’ must activate first. Meaning, the muscle must fire and engage quickly on demand with no lag time. It’s not simply about getting from point A to point B with an exercise, it ALL IN HOW you get to point B.

If you can master the Baby GetUp, I know your body is now better prepared to OWN the more challenging patterns. Then you can take yourself to the next level of progression. I contend that you will be more powerful, durable, stronger, faster, and better overall if you can establish a base foundation of functional movement patterns. The BGU is a critical part of that process.

BGU does not care how good you look!

BGU does not care how strong you think you are! 

BGU does not care how much weight you can swing in the gym!

BGU is the great equalizer!

It is designed to level the playing field by removing your ability to power through and compensate. We know that athletes are the best compensators. Their nervous system is primed for cheating and stealing movement patterns to maximize performance. It must because there is no controlled environment on the playing field.

It is chaos!

However, that makes it even more critical to strive for precision of movement in the training room. I am not talking about Sport Specific Training. That is for Skill Coaches. I am talking about basic fundamental movement pattern training that enhances skill. Regardless of which sport you play from rugby to badminton these primal patterns are critical. If they are lacking, athletes will suffer ‘energy leaks’ catapulting them faster towards fatigue and injury.

We often make the mistake of thinking just because an athlete looks great and performs well on the field they don’t have any weak points.


You just have to dig deeper to find them. Go back to a neuro-developmental movement sequencing task and you will spot the Achilles heel.  Now, if they can pass the Baby Getup that is great. This is what we want to see. You should be able to perform this movement equally on both sides of the body, REGARDLESS of your athletic prowess. Every human being who is ‘healthy’ should be able to perform this maneuver. If you can’t, then it is a Red Flag for dysfunction. When you can, then move onto the next progression of difficulty.

I use this maneuver on athletes that are ‘jacked’ to the max. I mean jacked in a good way. They are lean, muscular, powerful, strong, and are in fantastic shape…on the outside at least. Lol

I also use it on out of shape people in pain. They probably have pain because they can’t do this movement. It’s the question asked in FMS (Functional Movement Systems): ‘Are you in pain because you are moving wrong? Or are you moving wrong because you are in pain?’ The answer is YES! It’s both.

The BGU proves to you whether people have the ‘goods’ underneath. In core sequencing, not what your 6-pack abs looks like on the beach. Most of the time elite athletes fail one part of the BGU. At first they laugh at the simplicity of the movement when I demonstrate it and they go in all cocky and confident. But I know what is coming.

9 times out of 10 they can perform it INcorrectly on one side. BAM! That is what I want to discover. It is what I want them to realize! I want them to feel an underlying fundamental weakness they don’t know they have which is affecting their performance. Because trust me it is! One of the key risk predictors of future injury is an asymmetry of movement. You can do something better on one side compared to the other.

This is why the BGU is so invaluable. It’s part of the ‘Systems Checklist’ to see if you can open up the throttle on training, or if the client has their foot on the movement brake and gas at the same time. The beautiful part of the GetUp is the assessment is also the corrective. You don’t have to pick and choose corrective exercises to fix it.

Just do the movement with self assistance.

CRITICAL PARADIGM! (Prepare your brain!)

There is a hierarchy of discovery and success in corrective exercise that is completely dependent on the brain’s ability to process information. Once you understand the system it will change everything about how and when you teach corrective movement. Would you like to know what it is? Ok, might want to write this one down and read it every day! This is one for your success journal. And it is the foundation of WHY the Baby Getup always works.

This is the DISCOVERY PROCESS that everyone must go through to make corrective exercise effective. Clients don’t know what they don’t know! In other words, you must first make them aware they have a problem and then guide them towards long term correction. The 4-Step Discovery process below will show you how.

Ok, here goes. Do you have your pen?

Discovery Process:

Subconscious Dysfunction

*You are dysfunctional in movement and patterning but you just don’t know it…YET!

Conscious Dysfunction

*Now you know you are dysfunctional. I call the ‘light bulb’ moment! Discovery of dysfunction, but you do not yet know how to correct it. The Baby Getup is the catalyst for the ‘a ha’ moment of discovery

Conscious Function

*Now you actively and consciously exercise and train with proper movement to reverse dysfunction and move towards function. You concentrate with intention on quality and precision of movement. This is where coaching and cueing play a critical role.

Subconscious Function

*Now you move correctly without thought. It has been programmed into your long term memory and neural system. This is the ultimate goal and you know when your work is done for correctives. Cueing is no longer necessary. This is the place we want to reside!

You can see me doing a Baby Getup video below with Chris Flo from Flo Fitness as the client. Thanks Chris, you always make the best mock client. Also have your Flo Fitness bling on! Lol.

1) What to look for and how to setup the movement are listed below the video.

2) Watch the video first and then read the ‘How To’s on this blog post for what it is telling you.

3) Then watch the video again.

The baby GetUp is always a part of my assessment. It is just one piece of the puzzle. There are many movements I assess in my hour long evaluation. There are no absolutes in any assessment and the individual must be taken into account. The BGU gives me a unique perspective on the spiral and lateral line of fascial movement showing me the synergy of the IO and EO (obliques), TVA, QL, Rectus, and even diaphragm

Movement Set Up and Cueing

Demonstrate movement first. (Hear. See. Do) Take Away: You better make sure you can do this move first! lol

*Client Side lying in a plank style position.

*Top leg crosses over the bottom and top foot goes flat. (Foot position close to knee or whatever is comfortable depending on client hip mobility). Ideally perform the test with no shoes!

*Bottom arm out perpendicular to the body. Bend elbow at 90 degrees hand towards sky.

*Top hand goes dorsal surface on the medial knee. This prevents them from helping with the top hand.

*Cervical spine should not be fatigued. If it is this is just a cue to you that the neck is probably weak. A person should be able to support their head weight.

*Initiate movement with the downward arm with internal rotation. When arm reaches normal end-range engage the core to post up on the elbow reaching chest towards the sky. Do you see the similar pattern of the traditional Getup? It is a Diagonal pattern cross body. Highly stressing the oblique system and spiral line of the body.

*Control motion on downward pattern and repeat 3-5 times.

*On the last repetition post up into side plank and see how long client can hold with proper form. Ideally 60 seconds.

*Repeat on opposite side.

Dysfunctions and compensations to look for:

*Weakness and tired in the neck (or pain). Leading with the neck.

*Holding of breath

*Sticking or ratcheting on the movement

*Downward straight leg pops up off the ground

*Top leg comes off the ground

*Client fatigues at the 3-5 rep. You are looking for neural engagement necessary to engage the movement and repetitions look for endurance factors. So if they are cheating it will burn out fast!

*Watch for smooth downward motion. The downward leg should always be in line with the upper torso.

*Last rep move into side plank at top of movement. Observe for torso rotation. Flexion at waist. Losing the plank line. Dipping in the center. Neck goes into flexion (not packed) Head should be in line with the body.

*If they press too much with the top leg into the floor you will see a torque in the torso.

*Have them hold for as long as they can with good form. When and if they dip in the center 3 times. Test is over. In a normal side plank the individual should be able to maintain 60 seconds both sides. If they struggle maintaining the Baby Getup plank for 60 seconds they should not be doing a traditional side plan. Regress to progress!


*Take top hand and put palm side on the lateral aspect of top leg by the knee and have client assist pulling themselves into the movement ONLY as needed. Do 10 Repetitions.

*Stop corrective program of Baby Getup when the left and right sides are symmetrical.

*If client can perform the baby getup they have now earned the right to progress into the ‘Unloaded Naked Getup’ and also to half kneeling patterns. Once they master the Naked GetUp they may then proceed to a loaded TGU.


If after 4-6 sessions of the above corrective intervention the client is still struggling there may by muscle patterning requiring deeper attention. The primary objective with the above corrective is to determine If they can master the sequencing by repetition from Conscious Dysfunction to Conscious Function.

Always reassess after each session to see what is changing. Intervention with NKT NeuroKinetic Therapy is always a great addition to muscle activation. MAT practitioners as well can have a nice impact on activation patterning. There is no Magic Bullet for any corrective. However, knowing you need to look for sequencing dysfunction is a critical component…AKA Conscious Dysfunction. Remember? lol

Questions or comments please feel free to contact me. Enjoy the GetUp and please share this with others. Let’s go VIRAL with the ‘Baby’. lol