Kipping Pull-Ups – CrossFit Exercise Guide with Photos

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Muscles Targeted: Kipping pull-ups require an explosive transfer of momentum from the legs to the upper body and a great deal of control throughout the exercise. That makes them a full body exercise with a particular focus on the latissimus dorsi (back muscles) and biceps. The latissimus dorsi muscles extend downward from your shoulder blades on both sides of your back.

Exercise Instructions: Kipping pull-ups are performed on a pull-up bar. Jump up and grab the bar with your palms facing away from you. Keep your legs together and swing them backward, primarily from your knees but also slightly from your hips. Keep your upper body stationary on the bar as much as possible as you move your legs. Brings your legs back down and let their own momentum carry them forward. Straighten your knees as your legs come in front your body.



Before they reach the top of their forward swing, pull them back down and snap your hips upward. At the same time, pull yourself up on the bar using your arms and back. The goal of a kipping pull-up is to transfer the momentum of your legs through your hips and core, using it to propel your body upward. After your chin has cleared the bar, lower yourself with your arm and back muscles while swinging your legs backward, again at the knees and hips.

If executed properly, your upper body will travel in a straight line up and down during a kipping pull-up. Your hips will be pulled forward and back slightly by the momentum of your legs and will follow an elliptical pattern. Your legs will swing back and forth.

Timing is absolutely critical to properly do a kipping pull-up. The upward stroke must begin with the legs before they have reached the last portion of their upward swing. Think of the upward momentum of your legs as a stepping stone you will use to boost yourself through the rest of the pull-up.

Kipping pull-ups are an extremely technical exercise that requires timing, power and coordination. This is even more pronounced if you are doing multiple repetitions of this exercise. This will require strict management of your momentum backward and forward on the bar from one pull-up to the next.

Things To Avoid: Do not attempt to use kipping pull-ups as a substitute for strict, or stationary, pull-ups. You should be able to complete 5 stationary pull-ups, stopping completely at the top and the bottom, before you attempt a kipping pull-up.

Do not let your upper body start to follow the momentum of your legs. This will interfere with the transfer of momentum through your hips and may result in an injury to your back muscles. You may also hit the pull-up bar with your face.

Do not use kipping pull-ups to build upper body strength. They are an exercise that requires coordination and control. Strict pull-ups are better suited for targeting the muscles in the upper body.

Reps and Sets: Kipping pull-ups should be performed in combination with strict pull-ups. After you have completed your desired number of repetitions of stationary pull-ups, take a short break and then attempt the same number of kipping pull-ups as part of your overall back workout routine.

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