Kipping Pull-Up Basics
The good, the bad, the sometimes very ugly
“It’s not Safe!” “That’s not a real Pull-up!” “CrossFitters Ruin everything!”
When other exercise enthusiast criticize CrossFit the #1 movement they attack is the Kipping Pull-up. The main comments are that they are either unsafe or that we are using improper form. Whatever the comment they are failing to realize the reasons for Kipping Pull-ups and the benefits of mastering the kip. They have a limited idea of the movement and the way it helps us use the amazing design of our bodies in a functional way. Having all the muscle in the world is great, but do you know how to use it? Can you use that strength in everyday life or in emergency situations? Let’s discuss the kip and how to do it properly as well as the benefits of it.
STRICT VS. KIPPING
One of the principles of bodybuilding is slow controlled movement to isolate a particular muscle or muscle group. Their idea of a pull-up is a controlled vertical pull using only the lats and shoulders. Their goal is to primarily make the muscle bigger and strength is a side effect. While this is great and something we should all be doing to make ourselves stronger, this is not the reason why we do pull-ups. We do Pull-ups to quite simply PULL OUR BODYS UP. It’s not just a strength exercise to us, it’s a movement. We want to be able to climb out a hole, to swing from a tree, to scale a wall, and we want to be able to do those things repeatedly with minimal effort. If by some unfortunate series of events you ever find yourself hanging off a cliff, you’re most likely not going to just pull yourself up by your lats and shoulders alone. You’re going to use every muscle in your body to save yourself. Learning how to kip teaches you how to do that efficiently with less risk of injury.
PROPER KIP THEMES
Using The Core
One of the common themes in functional fitness is Core-to -Extremity Movement. The Core is made up of the Abdominals, Spinal erectors, Hips. They are the largest and most powerful muscles in the body. In order to produce maximum force we must first access these muscles. When done correctly that force will travel through the body like a wave that can then be used by the arms and legs. It’s how you lift a barbell, how you stand up from a chair, how you walk down the street, and it’s how you pull yourself over a pull-up bar. A Kipping Pull-up is simply how that Core-to-Extremity theme is expressed when using the Pull-up bar.
Build Strength First
Strict Pull-ups should absolutely be a part of any strength training program. They are crucial for developing the strength and shoulder stability to safely perform Kipping Pull-ups. That is why you MUST be able to perform a Strict Pull-up before attempting kipping pull-ups. If you are going to be injured doing a kipping pull-up it is most likely not going to happen on the way up, it’s going to happen on the way down. If your shoulders didn’t have the strength to fight gravity to go up, they’re not going to have the strength to fight both gravity AND your own body weight as you come down. It’s going to lead to quick and often violent drop, which greatly increases your risk for injury.
Proper core and upper body engagement are primarily when performing a Kipping Pull-up. When people first discover Kipping Pull-up they tend to think of it as a flail. A Kipping Pull-up is NOT whipping your legs and then riding that momentum up to a Pull-up. It is a controlled Pull-up with assistance from the core. You should have the same control over your Kipping Pull-up as you do with your Strict. It’s not loose or wild, your legs should be together, your core braced, your shoulders are active. A loose wild Kip (Core not active, legs spread with knees bent, holding on to the bar with your fingertips) doesn’t just put you at more risk of injury but also is inefficient and unsustainable. It requires more energy which leads to more fatigue and less work.
Practice more control on the pull-up bar with Beat Swings.
MORE WORK= MORE FITNESS RESULTS!
MORE WORK IN LESS TIME=GREATER WORK CAPACITY=GREATER FITNESS LEVELS=SUSTAINED HEALTH
Lunges and running are both great exercises to improve strength and conditioning. Lunges are great for strengthening your legs and hips, but if your goal is to travel 10 miles you probably wouldn’t lunge the whole time. You’re going to run. It’s faster and a better use of your energy. When running you’re going to use that strength you developed from exercises like lunges and you’re going to add more dynamic hip movement along with using the arms. The same is true for pull-ups. Adding core and hip engagement in order to move fast, move more efficiently, and to do more work. The more work you can do the better fitness results you get and the more functional you become. Not only in strength or appearance but also in endurance, stamina, and coordination. You’ll perform like a better all-round athlete and rather than just looking like one!