The Easiest Way to Coach the Kipping Pullup

The Kipping Pullup gets a bad rap in the fitness industry. It’s a misunderstood exercise but done properly has potential to build amazing upper body pulling strength.

The “kip” as it is called is a generalized term in the sport of gymnastics that allows for amazing feats of strength on the rings and uneven bars like you might see in the Olympics. The actual kip isn’t even an exercise is the sport of gymnastics. It’s just something you do as a prerequisite to higher level movements like the Iron Cross and Maltese.

The actual kip isn’t even an exercise is the sport of gymnastics. Its just something you do as a prerequiste to movement

I’m not writing this to sell the idea of the Kipping Pullup, in fact, I think you should train all styles of pull-ups. Kipping Pullups, Strict Pullups, Weighted Pullups, and Chinups all have useful purposes in training.

The intent of this article is to teach coaches and athletes how to easily instruct the Kipping Pullup if they are interested in adding it to their own training.

There are 3 variables that make a great Kipping Pullup:

  1. The Beat Swing
  2. The Pullup
  3. The Push Away

The Beat Swing

This is the most visible portion of the Kipping Pullup. The athlete aggressively flexes and extends the shoulder girdle while flexing and extending the hips in a coordinated manner. From the side profile, it looks more like a pendulum. When the athlete’s shoulder are extended fully the chest remains in front of the vertical plane and the legs remain behind the vertical plane but when the athlete flexes the shoulder the chest swings back behind the bar while the legs and hips shoot forward in front of the vertical plane. This motions done with speed and coordination is known as the beat swing. This is where all the power comes from in the Kipping Pullup.

The Pullup

Learning the beat swing is useless if you can’t do a pull-up. The kip is supposed to compliment someone’s strength by offering more power and cycle rate to the pull-up. Being able to perform strict pull-ups is based on your strength-to-bodyweight ratio. Women usually take much longer to develop the pull-up because of this fact. For instance, I have two women who come into my gym. One lady weighs 180lbs with 35% body and hasn’t exercised in over a year. On the other hand, I have another lady who weighs 135lbs with 20% body fat and has exercise consistently for the last 6 months. Who will be likely to perform pullups first? This fact is rarely discussed.

It’s important that we develop an appropiate strength-to-body weight ratio because no amount of bicep curls will ever trump being extremely overweight.

It’s important that we develop an appropriate strength-to-body weight ratio’s because no amount of bicep curls will ever trump being extremely overweight. We have to get their weight down, get them stronger, train the pull-up in various manners and hopefully, over the next year, they’ll be able to perform their first set of strict pull-ups. It’s also important to note that grip strength plays an important role in ones’ ability to perform high rep kipping pullups.

The Push Away

This is the most neglected piece of the kipping pull-up as there aren’t many exercises that describe the purpose of the push away. Performing one kipping pull-up at a time is easy. It’s connecting them that requires coordination. If you can imagine the kipping motion produce a C-shape motion of the chest. In order to keep the kip continues the push away at the finish position is paramount. You literally want to feel yourself repel from the top of the bar, is so much as you feel pressure in your palms from pressing away so hard.


Other Resources

Kip Swing Progression

Butterfly Kipping Pullups

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