Butterfly Kipping Pull-Up – Muscles Worked, Technique Video, and Benefits

In this article we will break down the butterfly kipping pull-up, one of the more advanced pull-up variations often seen in competitive fitness and gymnastics. In the below sections we will discuss the muscles worked, provide a butterfly kipping pull-up technique video, and discuss four benefits you can expect to gain when including this bodyweight pull-up exercise into your movement routine.

Muscles Worked

The butterfly kipping pull-up is a pull-up variation that involves the lifter using momentum (gained via the kipping motion) to move more efficiently (spend less energy) towards a bar. While this movement does minimize the need for upper body strength, it can still target many of the same muscle groups to bring about small increases in muscle size (see below) and muscular endurance. The below list of muscles are the primary groups targeted by performing the butterfly kipping pull-up.

  • Latissimus Dorsi
  • Forearms
  • Biceps
  • Scapular Stabilizers
  • Abdominals
  • Glutes, Hip Flexors, and Core

Butterfly Kipping Pull-Up Exercise Demo

In the below video the butterfly kipping pull-up is demonstrated. Note, that the butterfly kipping pull-up differs from the standard kipping pull-up or chest to bar pull-up, and is typically the most complex style of kipping as it requires a greater sense of control, muscle endurance and skill. The butterfly kipping movement can also be applied to the chest to bar kipping pull-up as well for adding efficiency.

4 Benefits of the Butterfly Kipping Pull-Up

Below are four benefits of the butterfly kipping pull-up that coaches and athletes can expect to gain when programming these within a training program.

Kipping Pull-Up Efficiency

When looking to increase pull-up efficiency for a specific sporting purpose, such as a competitive fitness WOD or simply to move yourself from point A to point B, the kipping butterfly pull-up is one of the most efficient ways to cycle more pull-ups as it utilizes momentum and helps to conserve energy as the lifter cycles through the kipping movement. Similar to kipping pull-ups, this movement may not necessarily be the best at building strength and muscle mass (see below), but it can help to increase over volume of this pull-up motion (more repetitions being completed).

Muscle Hypertrophy

Strict, regular pull-ups are the most foundational pull-up variation for not only injury prevention and movement integrity, but also for the overall development strength and muscle mass. That said, some kipping variations, like the butterfly kipping pull-up may help to increase muscle hypertrophy (growth) when paired with strict pull-ups as it does increase the amount of muscle damage and the ability to train a few more repetitions. Over time, the added training volume can help to increase muscle growth as long as the lifter is able to recovery from such. Again, be advised that strict, regular pull-ups are key for adding strength and muscle mass, whereas kipping variations may or may not be necessary for adding strength and muscle mass.

Gymnastic and Competitive Fitness Skill

Pull-ups as a whole are important for the performance in gymnastics and competitive fitness; as it lays a foundation for overall strength, body control, and motor development needed for more advanced bodyweight movements (muscle ups, ringworm, skipping variations). The kipping butterfly pull-ups is an advanced progression of the regular, strict, and kipping pull-up that can be beneficial for athletes looking to increase their overall efficiency (see above) and output for such a movement. By utilizing the butterfly kipping pull-up, you are able to conserve energy and not lose momentum as you cycle between repetitions.

Grip and Muscular Endurance

Higher repetition pull-up training will increase grip and pulling strength, with the butterfly kipping pull-up being a primary movement for doing so. In sports and events like gymnasts, climbing, and competitive fitness, grip strength and endurance is key for optimal performance. While butterfly kipping pull-ups are not exclusively responsible for a strong, healthy grip, it can be a sport specific movement that can have a direct application to workout and competitive situations where grip strength and endurance on a bar is needed.

Pull-Up Variations

Here are some of the more popular pull-up exercise guides for competitive fitness!

Featured Image: @rod_campi on Instagram

Mike Dewar

Mike Dewar

Mike holds a Master's in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Mike has been with BarBend since 2016, where he covers Olympic weightlifting, sports performance training, and functional fitness. He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and is the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at New York University, in which he works primarily with baseball, softball, track and field, cross country. Mike is also the Founder of J2FIT, a strength and conditioning brand in New York City that offers personal training, online programs for sports performance, and has an established USAW Olympic Weightlifting club.

In his first two years writing with BarBend, Mike has published over 500+ articles related to strength and conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, strength development, and fitness. Mike’s passion for fitness, strength training, and athletics was inspired by his athletic career in both football and baseball, in which he developed a deep respect for the barbell, speed training, and the acquisition on muscle.

Mike has extensive education and real-world experience in the realms of strength development, advanced sports conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, and human movement. He has a deep passion for Olympic weightlifting as well as functional fitness, old-school bodybuilding, and strength sports.

Outside of the gym, Mike is an avid outdoorsman and traveller, who takes annual hunting and fishing trips to Canada and other parts of the Midwest, and has made it a personal goal of his to travel to one new country, every year (he has made it to 10 in the past 3 years). Lastly, Mike runs Rugged Self, which is dedicated to enjoying the finer things in life; like a nice glass of whiskey (and a medium to full-bodied cigar) after a hard day of squatting with great conversations with his close friends and family.

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