In an earlier article we discussed the kipping pull-up and some of the exercises from which it is derived. The strict pull-up is one of these variations that is the basis for all kipping pull-ups, often forming the foundation for more advanced movements like the kipping pull-up.
In this article, we plan to revisit the strict pull-up vs the kipping pull-up to determine which is best for specific needs and goals.
In the below video the strict pull-up is demonstrated. Take note in the proper set up, hand placement, and scapular control that is needed to set the back for proper execution of the strict pull-up.
In the below video the kipping pull-up is demonstrated. Note how the movement is done in a more rhythmic nature than the strict pull-up, and requires additional teaching of the “kip” to properly be executed.
Kipping Pull-Ups vs Strict Pull-Ups
In the below section we compare and contrast the strict pull-up vs kipping pull-up to determine which exercise is best for your goals.
Muscular Hypertrophy and Strength
Building muscle and foundational strength is key for any level of fitness and sport. While both pull-up movements are similar (kipping vs strict), strict pull-ups will work to develop the concentric, isometric, and eccentric muscle actions through the range of motion trained. Kipping pull-ups have a tendency to decrease the amount of strength and force production needed to complete the movement because of the kip motion propelling the body upwards (via hip extension).
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Wrapping up my day with a little 15 Minute Monkey 🐵 Bar Flow ~ Set the clock for 15 minutes and complete as many rounds of: 10 Pull-ups ~ 1 Bar Trip Forward & Backwards ~ 10 Chin-ups ~ 5 Muscle Ups ~ that’s 1 cycle. This is an advanced flow I will post a beginners version next week. Enjoy and if you have access to monkey bars just put 10 minutes on the clock and swing around for a bit it’s not only a good time but a killer workout. Tag me at #jeremyscottfitness if you try a monkey bar flow this week. #47daytransformation #monkeybars #pullup #chinup #muscleup #backworkout #workoutmotivation #fitnessmotivation #fitness #fitfam #fitspo #personaltrainer #menshealth #womenshealth #scottsdale #az #arizona #phoenix #onlinecoaching #reebok #86400 #workout #workouts #flow
Both movements can induce muscle damage, hypertrophy, and some degree of strength, however strict pull-ups are the better option for development of muscle mass and strength.
Gymnastic and Competitive Fitness Skill
Kipping pull-ups are primarily seen in gymnastics and Competitive fitness WODs/training. While they do offer benefits for coaches and athletes outside of these two sports-specific needs, strict pull-ups are still seen as a foundational bodyweight movement for all.
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Miriam is an inspiration! She works full time…has 2️⃣ teenagers and still makes time for her health. She sets the bar for her children on living a healthy lifestyle. Here she links together 5️⃣beautiful #kippingpullups a movement that has given her trouble in the past. With just a little effort on mastering the basics she turned her weakness into a strength. When most people wouldn't even try….using the excuse "I'm too old for that" Miriam stays the course and just keeps getting better! Congratulations! #proudcoach #trueathleticscrossfit #teamtrue #masterthebasics #betterthanyesterday #crossfit #hamdenct #crossfittrue
With that said, athletes and coaches who are looking for increased body mechanics, awareness, muscular and grip endurance, and specific gymnastics or competitive fitness skills; the kipping pull-up is a necessity for overall development of an athlete.
Likelihood of Injury
Any exercise can lead to injury if done incorrectly, in excess, or without properly addressing mobility and stability needs. Assuming those are all controlled variables, the kipping pull-up may place an individual at a higher risk of injury that a strict pull-up for a few reasons. (1) The kipping pull-up is often trainer in higher volumes than the strict pull-up and therefore places greater muscular demands and recovery needs on an individual, making it much more likely to cause excessive strain and injury to muscle and connective tissues. (2) This kipping pull-up demands greater joint stability, mobility, and control as the movement is done in a rhythmic and ballistic manner. In the event an individual does not possess sufficient scapular stabilization, midline control, and/or technique, he/she can easily create shoulder, elbow, and muscular issues.
Degree of Difficulty
Both movements can be deemed difficult, however often because of different reasons. The strict pull-up is challenging because it requires a great amount of body strength, muscle mass (in the arms and back), and a good sense of body control when hanging from a bar. Kipping pull-ups, require slightly less strength and muscle mass to perform the movement, as body momentum is used (the kip). That said, complexity is elevated due to the lifter needing to understand body rhythm, awareness, and have sufficient mobility to perform the kip.
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| EFFICIENT KIPPING | by @pamelagnon Aka: "hollow pullbacks" ————————— ▪️This drills works only the back section of the kip- which is the most difficult. Slow & controlled is name of game ▪️start in active hang & return to active hang (not an arch – this is the back half of the kip – so stay in control) ▪️pull down on bar while pulling ribs up & over an imaginary line (this will help you hit hollow easier) ▪️no movement in hips. Just squeeze your glutes ————————- 🔹The lines drawn point out a few things 1. hollow body start 2. The pull back does not change position of body – just angle of shoulders as you pull down and back 3. Eye sight on horizon! ————————- SCALE: put one foot on a box so your athlete can feel the hollow pull back with correct body position (instead of just piking at hips). —————————
Both movements can be challenging for a beginner, however the strict pull-up should be taught and developed first to maximize strength, muscle mass, joint and muscle tissue resilience to injury, and set the foundation for more advanced movements like the kipping pull-up.
Best for Beginners
When determining which movement is BEST for beginners (muscular development and injury risks), coaches must understand the need for fundamental strength and muscle mass created through strict pull-ups and direct regressions (band assisted pull-ups). Often, coaches and athletes may allow kipping and other forms of ballistic pull-ups (jumping pull-ups) due to the lower strength threshold needed to perform (due to the use of momentum).
While this is not entirely ill-advised, it is suggested that lifters work to build strength, joint stability, and strengthen muscle and connective tissue before partaking in higher intensity and higher eccentrically loaded ballistic movements like the kipping pull-up.
Check out the below pull-up progressions and exercise guides to improve your fitness and WOD performance.
- Chest to Bar Pull-Ups Progressions for Beginners
- Can’t do chest to bar pull-ups? Try these regressed versions and get better!
Featured Image: @mikejdewar on Instagram