6 Steps to a Perfect Kipping Pull Up
updated January 1, 2019
When you first start doing Crossfit, and you’re presented with a Workout of the Day (WOD) with 60 pull ups in it, you’re going to be glad you learned how to do a kipping pull up.
Yet, people who are not a part of the CrossFit community may think that a kipping pull up is a cheating pull up. They are wrong. A strict pull up is a completely different movement. In fact, the kipping pull up is not an exercise in its own right; it is a compound anaerobic test of endurance for your arms and back. It is a CrossFit specific move designed to make you a better CrossFit athlete.
In this article we will take you through a six step progression that will allow you to perform the perfect kipping pull up.
Hang from a pull up bar with your hands shoulder width apart and palms facing forward. Maintain a tight core as you begin a slight swinging motion, activating from the shoulder joint (not the hips or knees). Retract your shoulders as you bring your chest forward and back.
Have your training partner kneel alongside you and place their hands in front of and behind your lower legs. Their hands should be about 18 inches apart. Now start speeding up your swinging action, touching your partner’s hands as you come forward and backward. You should make contact with your partner’s hands every second. Remember to keep initiating the swing action from the shoulders rather than the hips or the knees.
Do ten swings and then have your partner extend their hands out by another six inches and do another ten swings.
Grab the bar with the same hand positioning as before. Go into your swinging motion, building the momentum to develop a large arc of movement. Make sure that the action is initiated from your shoulders.
Do five swings and then try to stop in your tracks mid swing. This will help you to develop control over the movement. Practice doing five swings and then stopping dead in your tracks until you are able to stop on command.
Lie down on the ground, face up. Bring your knees up toward your butt, with your feet planted on the floor. Practice doing a kip on the ground by bringing your feet off the ground, drawing your knees toward your chest and thrusting your hips aggressively into the air to bring your feet back down to the ground. In the bottom position, your hips will be high in the air. Practice this until it becomes a fluid, natural movement.
Grab the bar again with a shoulder width, palms forward grip. Start of with the swing that you learned in the previous steps, building the momentum and distance that your feet travel with each arc of your body. On the fifth swing, initiate the same kipping movement that you practiced on the floor in the previous step by thrusting your hips forward. This will have the effect of bringing your chin up toward the bar. At the same time pull up with your arms. Do this 5 times in a row.
Grab the bar and begin developing your swing motion, making sure that you are initiating the movement from the shoulder joint. After 5 swings, kip your body to bring your chin up toward the bar. From the top position, push your arms away from the bar to return to the bottom position. Move directly into your next kipping pull up.
Drive from your legs,keeping your legs straight and toes pointed out as you swing.
- Not enough swing and momentum - The swing and momentum are what drive this movement. Yet a lot of people don’t develop this sufficiently. Instead they end up wiggling their legs up to get their chin over the bar. From the top position they have no momentum to carry them through into the next rep.
- Body Not Aligned - When doing the kipping pull up your body should be in alignment. However, many people end up with three angles happening in their body (at the shoulders, hips and knees). To avoid this keep your feet together and toes pointed as you initiate the swinging movement. Practice the correct form by lying face down on the ground with a piece of pvc pipe in your hands to represent the bar. With straight arms in front of you and legs behind, go into a Superman position by contracting your core and arching your lower back up. Keep your knees straight and your feet together, pointing your toes back. Roll over onto your back to practice the forward swing position. Hold the pvc above your head and slightly back, with arms straight. With legs straight and knees together, point your toes forward as you bring your feet 18-24 inches from the floor. Contract your abs and hold this position.
Do 3 rounds of 10-15 second holds on each move to perfect your body positioning for the kipping pull up.
- Not Pulling With the Arms - Often times, the person will get so caught up on the swinging and hip pop movement of the kip, that they will neglect the arm pull part of the movement. As a result their elbows tend to flare out as they come up. This can result in elbow pain post workout. To correct this, remember to pull with your arms at the same time that you kip yourself up. You should also keep your elbows pointed to the floor at all times.
Follow our 6 step progression to the perfect kipping pull up and you will have a serious advantage. The pull up is often the killer part of your WOD. Learning how to kip properly will allow you to get through while the competition crumbles.
6 Steps At a Glance
- Hang from the bar and practice a swinging motion to move your feet 12 inches. Initiate the movement from the shoulders
- Speed up the swinging action, making sure to keep your body straight. Try to move your feet about 18 inches.
- Practice stopping mid track while swinging to develop control of your body.
- Lie in the floor with knees bent to practice the hip thrust. Simultaneously jump your feet in the air as you aggressively pop your hips up as high as possible.
- Go back to the bar and practice the kipping movement as you swing forward. At the same time pull up with your arms.
- At the top of the movement, push your arms away from the bar to return to the start position.