In March 2022, Mike Aidala set a new Guinness World Record for lifting weights with Turkish getups. The 32-year-old endurance athlete and fitness trainer from Boulder, Colorado, lifted a total of 13,823 pounds in one hour, breaking the previous record by nearly 1,000 pounds while also raising money for Mission 22, an organization that focuses on the mental health of Veterans and suicide prevention.
M&F sat down with Aidala to find out why the record-breaker chose Turkish Getups as his nagging specialty and soon learned the motivations and training that gave him such convincing success.
What are Turkish get-ups?
The required movement, strength, and balance required to perform a Turkish Getup will work every single muscle in your body, which is why the movement has endured for centuries. It is believed that the Turkish getup first rose to prominence during the rule of the Ottoman Empire in the late 13th century to bolster its soldiers. More recently, this grueling exercise has been embraced by the kettlebell community for offering a full-body workout.
First, lie flat on your back, then, while holding a kettlebell in full extension overhead, raise yourself until you're standing straight. Next, lie flat on your back while still holding the kettlebell in full extension above your head and repeat the exercise. Turkish Getups are brutally simple, but difficult to master.
Who is Michael Aidala?
Born just outside of Manhattan, Michael Aidala grew up in New York before moving to Boulder, CO. He was a talented college football player and also competed in Olympic weightlifting. His love of sports and fitness extends to strongman, marathons, stand up paddle boarding, acrobatics and yoga. Today he coaches clients with just as much focus on their mental resilience and their physical strength. "I now work as a performance, mental and emotional coach," says Aidala. "I love testing my body in all kinds of ways!"
Why the Turkish presentation?
"I like the Turkish makeup," shares Aidala. "I know a lot of people don't like that, but I like the challenge and the focus required. It really requires 3 different aspects; Strength, flexibility and then concentration. It is very similar to hand balancing. I do a lot of handstands and I love this mental challenge. I was trying to look up the previous world record for 1 rep because I was raising my bodyweight, which was 205 pounds at the time. I couldn't find a one rep record but I did find a one hour Turkish Getup record so I figured I'd give that one a try.
How did Mike Aidala train to set a Turkish stand up record?
Aidala began training in earnest for his record attempt 10 weeks later. He divided the days into hard days and condition-oriented days. The heavy days consisted of heavy stands, overhead presses, and leg exercises like lunges and squats. Then his conditioning days would include endurance tests to see how long he could compete with the getups. In his first session, Aidala could barely complete the move for 10 minutes, but by the end of his workout, the athlete was confident that an hour would be doable.
Aside from lifting the kettlebell, Aidala tried a number of different objects to help with his training. "I've done it with a barbell, with a Concept2 rower, with a bike and with a lot of my friends," he shares. It was especially important for Aidala to find heavy weights that he could lift while also getting used to the hardness of the kettlebell. "It's hard to find kettlebells that are really heavy, and even the heavy ones are so big that there's a huge bell when you grab them, and I've had to condition my forearms a bit to get used to that abrasion. The barbell is nicer because you have the weight without the abrasion and you only get the balance aspect.
Unfortunately Aidala caught Covid three weeks before the record attempt and was at least 1 week away from his training time. Recovering and throwing himself back into training, he was able to test himself by doing stand-up exercises for 20 minutes while completing each rep in about 11 seconds. Aidala then increased the duration of these explosions and also reduced the rest times between them.
Courtesy of Mike Aidala
Later, Mike Aidala used the barbell until he got about 135 pounds to warm up, then lowered his weight and lifted a 97-pound kettlebell to get comfortable with the uncomfortable object. His effort paid off, as on the big day, Aidala completed 75 reps with a 97-pound kettlebell in his right hand and 74 reps with an 88.6-pound kettlebell in his left hand, officially lifting a total of 13,823 pounds in an hour recognized by the Guinness Book of Records. "I hadn't managed a full hour up until the day," says Aidala. “The longest I've been in training was maybe 45 minutes, and after that I felt really good. But I've tried to rejuvenate myself to make sure I'm prepared for the day ahead."
What's next for Michael Aidala?
There is no doubt that Aidala intends to keep pushing herself in the future. His Turkish getup record is a result of his desire to raise awareness for mental health and suicide prevention and the proceeds were raised to benefit Mission 22 in tribute to his own grandfather. a Vietnam War veteran who tragically took his own life.
Courtesy of Mik Aidala
In addition to his own highly commendable work of engaging with his customers both emotionally and physically, Mike Aidala has also partnered with men's activewear label Ten Thousand to further raise awareness of these important issues. This passionate coach wants to inspire people to strive for their own victories and achievements every day, no matter how big or small they may seem.
Aidala's next feat, yet another one, will include an 80-mile paddleboard crossing from the Bahamas to Florida in the shark-infested waters of the Gulf Stream in late June!
"I know there's a lot of stigma attached to talking about how you're feeling and what you're thinking," says Aidala. “I know that physical challenges resonate very strongly with boys, so I try to use my physicality to convey those larger messages. Part of my work as a coach is to enable men to engage in various introspective practices, and I wanted to show them that you can do things that seem impossible.” Here's a coach leading by example!