Dr. Warren Post – Kipping Pull Ups 101

pull ups

Kipping Pull Ups 101

    When people start their CrossFit journey they are often drawn to kipping pull ups.  As CrossFit’s default pull up it allows the individual the ability to perform more reps and in a faster manner than conventional strict pull ups.  Some folks argue that it shouldn’t be called a pull up and it is cheating while others think that is the best thing since sliced bread.  As always the truth normally lies somewhere in the middle.  By the end of this article I hope you can have a better idea as to whether or not performing kipping pull ups should be a goal of yours, and where you are in your progression towards kipping pull ups.

To start I will list my minimal recommendations for performing kipping pull ups.  To be clear this is just a starting point.  These minimal requirements are suggested to begin practicing kipping pull ups.  I would advise for higher standards and more proficiency before you begin using kipping pull ups in your metabolic conditioning segments.

Minimal Recommendations

  1. Greater than or equal to 180 degrees of Bi-lateral shoulder flexion without pain and without compensations of thoracic extension. (***I would consider this a red flag area.  If you do not possess this Range of Motion it is highly advised to achieve it before beginning kipping pull ups.)
  2. Greater than or equal to 5 Strict pull ups with full elbow extension at the bottom and within 1 inch of the chest with neutral cervical spine (neck) at the top portion with the ability to hold the hollow position.
  3. Greater than or equal to 15 beat swings without excessive breaking at the thoracic or lumbar spine as well as the knees.

These may look like high standards, but in all honesty I could make a solid case that these are lower than they should be.  At this point some of you are saying, “With those standard I will never be able to get kipping pull ups”.  Do not fret.  You can still live a great life, be happy, and be incredibly fit without ever performing a kipping pull up.  For those who are interested in pursuing the challenge, we are always happy to help you along your journey.  For some this process may be 1-2 months, and others it may be 1-5 years.  As in most aspects of life it is the journey and not the end result that make it worth it.

Dr. Warren