Continuing with my theme as the CrossFit Open is just around the corner, lets talk kipping. The growth of the “Sport of Fitness” is actually pretty ridiculous! Officially established in 2000, on the 20th of June, 2014, CrossFit hit 10,000 affiliates worldwide. With this new method of working out  taking the world by storm, the kipping pull ups entered the scene!

I can guarantee that any video that involves someone kipping, will be accompanied by a comment along the lines of “not a single pull up was done that day”. So what’s the deal, are they better, worse or the same?

Some Genuine Posts About Kipping in CrossFit

These are real and all linked, while some of the articles provide decent enough arguments for and against, I’m going to add my two cents!

“It’s where someone looks like they’re having an epileptic seizure in order to cheat a pull-up.”

“Well, they’re a way to cheat.”

Why do crossfitters do such girly “pull-ups?”

Kipping Everything Is Idiotic

Now, if you go ahead and read any of these posts, please do allow me to argue my point before jumping on the CrossFit sucks bandwagon!

My Counter Arguments For Common Criticism

“It’s not a real pull ups, it’s just cheating” – This comment is particularly frustrating for me, why? Because it shows that the person commenting has no idea as to why kipping may be used! Traditional strict pull ups area great way for building strength, bang on. The point of a kip is not to focus on the development of strength (mind blown).

Take a look at the opening line for the description of CrossFit

Increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains.

CrossFit has a focus on maximising the amount of work done in the shortest time. Now Let’s look at how a kip is defined in one of those CrossFit bashing articles from earlier

The kip is a way to use the entire body to generate momentum horizontally which can be harnessed and transferred into a vertical motion.

So, a pull up is a vertical movement and the kip allows momentum to be generated and transferred into vertical momentum. Essentially, it makes the movement more efficient. So (light bulb moment coming up), A more efficient movement allows a higher amount of work done in a shorter time. The point isn’t to develop your vertical strength, it is to perform at a greater efficiency. If you want to get strong then yes, for sure, do strict pull ups! However, if you want to get more done then by all means use a kip, they’re completely different thing.

Common Criticism Continued

“They’re girly pull ups” – Try it, see if you think they’re girly, then come back to me.

“They just look like a fish flopping around out of water” – Okay, yes this can be true. However, only when the form isn’t correct or perfect. That being said, how often do you walk into a globo gym and think “what on earth is that guy doing”. Anything performed with a lack of control will look a bit silly.

“They are an injury waiting to happen” – Again, I kind of agree with this but then again not. It comes down to technique, coaching and ability. At NK Fitness we believe in movement, consistency then intensity. If you can’t master the basics then you shouldn’t add volume and intensity. This isn’t just for kipping, it goes for anything.

To Conclude

Kipping pull ups and strict pull ups are totally different things. For building strength and mastering the foundation of a movement, you may want to keep it strict.

Technique is king, the actual skill of kipping effectively and safely is difficult. Make sure you invest the time in basic strength, positioning and mobility before giving them a go (a common pre requisite is the ability to perform 5 strict pull ups).

They are both a skill and an exercise, use them sensibly and follow basic strength and conditioning protocols and you’ll be fine.

If you don’t take part in CrossFit, should you do them? If you’re not looking to maximise your ability to do work in a short time then sure, give them a miss. They are not essential, however the ability to master any skill can’t go a miss when developing general athleticism surely?

The next time you’re out for a walk or run in Twickenham and pass an outdoor workout area, don’t just jump up and give them a go. Learn the skill then perfect the exercise.