Pullups – Kipping or Strict?





When discussing kipping, its best first to address the various posts, comments and general discussion there are across the Internet on “is kipping a good idea?”. This question has got people heated on both sides, general fitness culture and bodybuilding consider kipping to be a “cheat”, some other fitness professionals and therapists consider it to be dangerous. Lets have a look at these objections.





This argument comes from a misunderstanding of the kipping pull-ups use, and the lack of knowledge in regards too its implementation within crossfit and S&C programming. Kipping pull-ups are used to increase the ability to get work done over time (power output) , the use of core-to-extremity momentum to accelerate the pull is not used to increase strength, but to be used as a conditioning tool.




The shoulder is an incredibly mobile joint, with great range for movement it can be prone to injury. The main argument against kipping pull-ups is that the forces placed on the shoulders at the bottom of the motion are way above that of the athletes body-weight, and that performing this movement is a disaster waiting to happen.

Within this argument there is some truth, kipping pull-ups are a definite stressor to the shoulder, and without the adequate strength to absorb and control these forces you are potentially going to end up with some type of shoulder injury. At a good affiliate kipping pull-ups are not prescribed for those without the prerequisite strength, a nice alternative that elicits a similar response is the box style pull-up regression which allows the absorption of much of the aforementioned forces though the legs.





Both oppositions to the “kip”, be it kipping pull-up or using it in other motions such as the “toes to bar” and “muscle up”, are sprung from a misunderstanding of its use in crossfit programming or through unfortunate exposure to poor prescription relative to an athlete’s ability level.


The kip in a pullup or other gymnastic movement is what the “dip and drive” is to the jerk in olympic weightlifting. As mentioned above, this allows for a faster cycle time on reps and uses efficiency of movement over developing raw strength. This technique is potent for increasing fitness and as long as it is used properly and respected it should have a place in an athletes training week.

James Wilkinson