Pull-ups: To Kip or Not to Kip?

Photographer: Sweat RX
Photography Pull ups CrossFit


Pull-up purists will look at kipping and decry: “He’s cheating! Those aren’t pull-ups!” He’s not cheating at pull-ups because he’s not doing pull-ups; he’s doing kipping pull-ups. Make note of the modifier kipping. Would you criticize an Olympic lifter for doing a split jerk instead of a strict press?There is a strong school of thought that recommends not starting to kip until a certain number of strict pull-ups can be completed.Health and safety are the driving motivators behind this philosophy.The momentum generated by the kipping swing causes significant stress in the shoulder girdle, which logically necessitates a certain amount of strength, stability, and flexibility in the shoulders.

Let’s look more closely at the advantages of kipping:
  • Kipping pull-ups reinforce coordinated core-to-extremity muscular recruitment, which is essential for effective athletic training.
  • The kipping motion recruits numerous muscle groups, which distributes work and allows for greater speed and more repetitions to be performed in a single set than with strict pull-ups. This means greaterpower production, a staple of CrossFit training andthemost important variable in many sports.
  • Recruiting more muscle groups through kipping also requires oxygenation of those groups leading to extremely potent cardiovascular training.
Don’t Neglect Strict Pull-ups!
  • Strict pull-ups are a superior way to build strength and are an essential functional movement.
  • CrossFit, pull-ups, and kipping pull-ups are complimentary movements; getting better at one will make you better at the other.
  • Developing the strength required to perform strict pull-ups will reduce the risk of injury from the stresses induced by the kipping swing.
Coaches’ Thoughts on Kipping

“The best thing you can possibly do as a coach is educate the athlete of the possibility of injury if their shoulders aren’t ready for a kip yet.” Then the athletes take whatever part of that they wish and modify their workouts as they deem necessary. Again, safety is also about you as an athlete taking responsibility. Also keep in mind “strict, controlled movements are always the first step and the end goal.”

The kipping pull-up is a great skill to acquire, but it should not trump your ability to do strict pull-ups!

Chin-Up Assistance Exercises

Strengthening your weak points will help you master chin-ups faster. The key is performing the right exercises. You need to focus on strengthening muscles that help you pull your body up and over the chin-up bar. This means building stronger biceps, back, and shoulder muscles.

Below is a sample workout to help you get started.
  • Workout A
  • Resistance Band Chin-Ups
  • Push-Ups
  • Kettlebell Swings
  • Inverted Rows
  • Lunges

Complete 3 sets of 8 repetitions with good technique twice a week!

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