The art of a Kipping Pull-up

I love Pull-ups. I have said it before. I think it stems way back to when I was in middle school gym class and we had to do them as part of the overall Presidential Fitness program. Remember Arnold Schwarzenegger being figure head of that? It was probably his first intro into politics. And I remember struggling to do them  and thinking, if I can just do pull-ups, how strong am I?  So, Pull-ups and being able to do them is for me one of my holy grails of exercises.  MT likes to throw them in regularly and I internally I am giddy. We have them for the next 4 weeks in our group training.

We are learning the art of Pull-up with a Kip. I had never heard of a Kip before Plumbline and researching what crossfit was.  Here’s a good description of a kip that I found.

Kipping Pullups – How To Do ‘Em:

A kipping pullup, done correctly, is more than just kicking your feet wildly and flopping around on your way up to the pullup bar.  A correctly done kipping pullup is fluid and powerful.

While a kipping pullup is easier on your direct pulling muscles, it’s much harder on your grip and it’s much more cardiovascular.  It’s a full body movement where you generate power at your hips – a similar use of the legs and hips to a kettlebell swing or a barbell snatch – just the opposite direction.

A kipping pullup is a pullup with a variation on the gymnastics kip.

The pullup kip differs greatly from the gymnastics kip in that the pullup kip you lead with your shoulders as much as your hips, while you throw your feet behind you.  The gymnastics kip leads with the hips and feet.  Both have a piking motion where you throw your feet up and forward while snapping your hips back.

The bigggest mistake that most people make in the pullup kip is letting their legs swing forward with their hips.  WHEN YOUR HIPS ARE FORWARD, YOUR FEET MUST BE BACK.  Likewise, if your feet are forward, your hips must be back.  This is the single biggest mistake people make when they are first learning the kip – they let their whole body – shoulders, hips, legs, arms – swing forward at the same time.

One way to think about it is that your hips and shoulders are always on the opposite side of the pullup bar from your feet.  Your body should either be forward in like a half moon shape (feet and hands back), or your body should be in a half moon shape the other way – shoulder and hips back (feet and hands forward).  I recommend spending a fair amount of time with your feet on a box and your hands on a pullup bar…..just pushing your body back and forth and keeping your hands and feet in exactly the same place.  It’s how you will get a feeling for the movement.  Every time you let something slip, come back to that drill.

You should give it a try!



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