The Road to Kipping Pull Ups, by Andre Houdet

In CrossFit and Gymnastics we use the term ”kip” for many of our dynamic movements in the bar. The ”kip” is an efficient and less taxing way of creating movement by using momentum and it is basically being added to save energy and cycle reps faster. Before learning the kipping pull ups, you should first get these points right:
  • The kip is a dynamic movement and should never be performed without the athlete being able to perform the movement strict. The reason why I support this rule is because your tendons and connective tissues simply aren’t strong enough to handle the pressure of these powerful, dynamic movements.
But how do I get my first strict pull ups, so that I can start smashing out the kipping pull-ups during the workout of the day?
  • You start by building the fundamental strength, this will make sure your connective tissues and muscle tissues are strong and ready to eventually handle more load. Strength is a requirement for good movement patterns, and good movement patterns are safe and efficient, therefore step 1 is always to get strong.
Here is how I would progressively build my way up: (Notice, you can’t move on to the next point, if you didn't pass the criteria marked with a *) 1. Start by mastering isometric movements From the floor:
  • Hollow body hold
  • Arch / Superman hold
*You should be able to stay here for at least 1 minute before moving on. If you are not strong in these positions you are useless. The tighter you are able to be in these positions, the easier you will be able to move your body weight.  Imagine you were to kick a stick and a rope laying on the floor. Which would travel the furthest? The stick is hopefully your answer… and yes you are right. The stick stays as one unit and is nice a tight, where the rope on the other hand is the opposite.  Have this in mind next time you try to do a kipping movement. From the bar:
  • Hollow body hang (Improves grip and shoulder mobility as well)
  • Chin over bar hold (Pronated/Supinated grip)
*You should be able to do a 1 min chin over bar static hold before moving on. 2.  Strict movements From low rings:
  • Ring rows
*You should be able to do 10 completely horizontal ring rows before moving on. From bar:
  • Scalp pull ups
  • Strict Chin ups
  • Strict pull ups
*You should be able to complete 4 hollow body strict pull ups before moving on. 3.  Dynamic movements Finally! Now you are ready to kip, and all the hard work you have been going through in the previous points has made your joints strong and stable which means they are now able to handle the “kip”. Basically the “kip” in the kipping pull ups, is going from “hollow” to “arch” which were the 2 positions you were forced to work on in point A. To master the “kip” I would recommend practice doing it in slow motion. If you are able to do it under control in slow motion, it will be easier when you add more power and speed to it.  The more effective your “kip” is the less you will need to use and fatigue your pulling mechanics, which will be essential when doing kipping pull ups in a workout. I’m going to finish off this article by talking about volume. What most people get wrong and therefore get injured is the amount of volume in their training. I found an interesting article online from Chrisopher Sommer, Founder of Gymnastics bodies, former US National Gymnastics Coach called 'The Secrets of Gymnastic Strength Training'. Christopher Sommer’s preference to advancing load to enable connective tissue to adapt is working with a fixed load until it becomes easy before advancing the load. There are 3 phases, each lasting 4 weeks, which you need to consider: Overload => Load => Deload
  1. If you do 10 kipping pull ups on the minute of 10 minutes, and you find it very challenging, we call this your overloading phase. This phase lasts 4 weeks and might be very hard for you.
  2. The next phase is the loading phase, where you are doing the exact same amount of volume. This will be an another challenging 4 weeks, yet easier than before, because your body is starting to adapt to the volume.
  3. The last phase is the deload period, which I consider being the most important and most left out.  If you notice, in these 4 weeks you don't change anything, you stick to exact same number of reps as you have done in the previous 8 weeks. Your body will now find the amount of volume easy and the body has now adapted to the amount of volume.
The most common problem is that people keep increasing the number of reps and never give time for the connective tissue to adapt. This is the main reason why injuries happen, so make sure to get your DELOAD! YOU NEED IT.   By: InnerFight Performance Coach, Andre Houdet