Toes to Bar: Kipping vs Strict

The toes to bar movement is a highly effective way to develop midline stability, increase muscular hypertrophy of the abdominals and obliques, and enhance overall core strength. Gymnasts, fitness, and calisthenics athletes have been performing toes to bar (either kipping or strict) for years, with the midsections to prove it.

Many trainees may be wondering what are the specific differences between the kipping and the strict versions, the benefits of each, and which is best for aesthetics, sports performance, core development.

Therefore, in this article we will:

  • Discuss and demonstrate the kipping vs strict toes to bar movements
  • Discuss the benefits of each toes to bar style (kipping vs strict)
  • Determine which is best for you goals

Strict Toes to Bar

The strict version requires a greater amount of core strength and control, however is often done at slower speeds and for less repetitions when compared to the more rhythmic and kipping toes to bar movement.

Exercise Demo

In the video below you will see a thorough progression on how to perform the full strict toes to bar movement all the way down to the most basic components.


Like any kipping movement, mastering the strict variation is not only vital to performance and injury prevention, but it can also improve performance across the board. When discussing toes to bar, the strict version offers athletes many benefits similar to the kipping version. The strict version must be perfected to develop fundamental core strength (both isometric, concentric, and eccentric control), midline stability, and prepare the body for the ballistic demands of the kipping toes to bar.

Kipping Toes to Bar

The kipping toes to bar movement is often seen in gymnastics and competitive fitness competitions. It is a challenging movement that requires core strength, midline stability, shoulder and thoracic mobility, and fluidity to properly perform longer sets of the kipping movement.

Exercise Demo

In the video below Camille Leblanc-Bazinet breaks down the simple progression of the kipping toes to bar and how to maximize efficiency in the movement.


In an earlier article we discussed the benefits of performing kipping toes to bar, specifically:

  • Increased muscular demands placed upon the body as a whole as the lifter must control and contract their core, back, arms, shoulders, and legs.
  • Can be a more efficient way to increase muscular hypertrophy and endurance than endless sit ups and crunches.
  • Increased eccentric component to the movement which requires the lifter to decelerate the legs on the way down, contract, and reverse the direction back up. This increased eccentric component can increase muscle damage (aka hypertrophy).

Which Is Best for You?

Below are three aspects of fitness that you may be interested in when discussing which toes to bar variation is best for you.

Core Development (Strict)

As discussed above, the strict version builds a foundational layer of muscle mass, neuromuscular control, and can set the groundwork for more ballistic type movements such as kipping toes to bar. While kipping movements can also do great things for core development, many athletes fail to properly develop the core strength and stability at low speeds (no kip), often because it’s much harder to perform. If this is the case, refer to the strict toes to bar progression video above to build up your weak midsection and address your needs to maximize performance in the kip as well as increase your injury resilience.

Aesthetics (Both)

Both movements can do wonders for core aesthetics. When done properly, they each have their unique benefits (discussed above) that can offer athletes muscle hypertrophy, endurance, and tone (scientifically speaking, this refers to residual muscle tension, also know as “muscle tone”)

Sport Goal (Kipping)

In regards to sport performance, for athlete who compete in such sports that require a kipping movement (such as CrossFit and gymnastics), mastering the kipping version is vital to performance. That said, the strict version can be a great way to increase core strength and development that can impact the performance in Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, and more formalized sports.

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Featured Image: @andreteresinho on Instagram