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Kipping Pull-Up – Muscles Worked, Exercise Demo, and Benefits

In this article we will explore the kipping pull-up, a popular pull-up variation seen across competitive fitness WODs and events. In the below sections, the specific muscle worked, movement execution, and training adaptations/benefits will be discussed.

Muscles Worked

The kipping pull-up targets many of the same muscle groups as most pull-up variations (strict, chest to bar, jumping, band-assisted, and butterfly pull-ups). Unlike the strict and banded versions, however, the kipping movement does lower the muscular strength and mass demands needed to execute, since body momentum is used to assist in lifting the body upwards. In doing so, many of the muscles below are challenged in a more muscular endurance way rather than maximal strength and hypertrophy (with the exception being made for beginners).

  • Forearms and Grip
  • Biceps
  • Latissimus Dorsi
  • Posterior Shoulder
  • Scapular Stabilizers
  • Core (midline stability)

Exercise Demo

In the below video the kipping pull-up is demonstrated. Note, that this exercise is often learned in two parts, (1) proper execution of the kipping movement to establish body awareness and midline control, and (2) mastering the fundamental strict pull-up for optimal muscular strength, coordination, and muscle hypertrophy. Without proper understanding and execution of the strict pull-up, performing kipping pull-ups may actually cause more harm than good.

4 Benefits of Kipping Pull-Ups

Below are four benefits of performing kipping pull-ups. Note that many of these outcomes are similar to chest to bar pull-ups and other styles of kipping, however do have some differences when compared to stricter versions of pull-ups.

Muscular Endurance

Kipping pull-ups often allow an individual to perform more repetitions than they would otherwise be able to do performing strict pull-up movements. Due to the higher volume nature of this exercise, (often, more repetitions are performed in total and/or more repetitions per set) muscular endurance plays a vital part in performance. Muscles like the forearms, biceps, latissimus dorsi, posterior shoulder, and core are all affected.

Gymnastics Skill

The kip, often seem in competitive fitness (see below) can also be used as a basic body movement in gymnastics. The ability to find body awareness, rhythm, and be dynamic is an important skill for gymnastics. While this is also learned in other methods during gymnastics training, the kip can also do its part when programmed and done correctly.

Competitive Fitness Skill

The kipping pull-up is an exercise that must be learned and performed in competitive fitness workouts and competitions. For this reason, individuals who place emphasis on this style of fitness and are looking for maximal performance must gain skill and movement strength/endurance specific to performing kipping pull-ups.

Total Body Movement

The kipping pull-up offers us a unique way to help develop body awareness, coordination, joint articulation, flexibility/mobility, and midline control. The kip, often seen in gymnastic movements, requires all of the above attributes. While these can be learned via other ways, the kipping pull-up can help to develop such traits when done correctly.

The kipping pull-up includes a few variations that have been discussed previously on BarBend. When looking at these variations, coaches and athletes must understand the proper progressions that must occur before advancing to more difficulty variations (for the sale readiness and injury prevention). Movements like the butterfly pull-up, chest to bar kipping pull-up, and the chest to bar butterfly pull-up all include aspects of the kipping pull-up in their execution.

Can You Do THESE Pull-Up Variations?

Below are a few pull-up variations that beginner and advanced athletes alike should strive to master if they are serious about kipping and pull-up performance!

Featured Image: @lena_lifts on Instagram

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