The kipping pull-up is a fundamental movement in crossfit, there are a couple of variations to the movement and a lot of different skills within it to master.
In this quick back to basics blog we will go through the different phases and progressions and give a little pull-up based workout to finish you off.
The movement of kipping pull-ups actually evolved within gymnastics as a way to be able to accumulate more pull-up volume. Before moving on to kipping pullups, first you should be able to do 3-4 strict pull-ups in a row to ensure you have the base strength to start safely. In addition we wouldn't recommend moving on to Butterfly pull-ups until you have mastered kipping.
Phase 1 - Grip and Set-Up
From the standing position underneath the bar, jump up and grip the bar just outside of your shoulders. When you grip you should wrap your fingers over the top and your thumb underneath to get what is known as a full grip.
Phase 2 - The Hollow
To initiate the kipping movement, begin with your body in a tight, hollow position, with your arms pushing down and away from the bar to send your body backwards. Avoid closing the hip angle here (bringing your legs up to 90 degrees) The kip should be controlled by your shoulders and core, not your legs swinging back and forth at the hip, (WodPrep). As shown in the image below.
Phase 3 - The Arch
Immediately after the hollow you should look to transition to the arch position, effectively this is the opposite of the hollow position. Transition from hollow and arch should be smooth and you should maintain tension from the bar right to your toes, you should be in control of the movement not just flailing about. See image for the arch position.
Phase 4 - The Drive
From the arch the next phase is to transition towards the hollow position again but this time we will look to drive the legs up slightly to prepare for the pop. During this step your legs are rising up towards the bar but your shoulders will be going back and up, not directly towards the bar.
Phase 4 and 5 - The Pop and Pull
To continue on from the drive phase you aggressively engage your glutes, pop open the hips and drive them towards the bar a fraction of a second later, pull your chest upwards towards the bar. The popping of the hips gets your centre of mass nice and high so then your pull just has to realign your body and get your head over the bar.
Phase 6 - Recovery
Once you are at the top of the pull-up to start the recovery phase you want to push back, away from the bar at the top so that you can transition down and back into the hollow/arch position smoothly to start the whole process again.
Here are the most common errors made with the kipping pull-up, as well as how to avoid them.
Pulling Too Early
It is very easy to be impatient while trying to learn how to do a kipping pull-up and always be trying to pull directly towards the bar, yes the end point is chin over the bar but to effectively perform a kipping pullup you have to only pull towards the bar at the last second.
To avoid this, try to think about lifting your shoulders up and back and only pull towards the bar once you have done everything else.
Not Pushing Away At The Top
The second most common mistake is just dropping from the top or pushing down, what you should be aiming to do is push back, if you push down you lose all momentum you had and heavily load your shoulder joints when they jarr at the bottom. If you push back you naturally will gain momentum and swing towards your arch position.
To avoid this, try to think about pushing directly back from the top and you will likely get the feel for the momentum you generate very quickly.
A good little workout to try for this would be
*Every time you break, 5 Burpees)
For this one, the aim is to do as many pull-ups in a row as possible to save having to do too many unnecessary burpees
Good luck and let us know how you get on!
WodPrep. “How To Do Kipping Pull-ups In 6 Simple Steps.” WODprep, https://wodprep.com/blog/how-to-do-kipping-pull-ups/. Accessed 21 April 2022.