Kipping Pull-ups

Cheating, or just a different approach?

Sometimes a straight line isn't the fastest way to get from point A to point B.
While Pull-ups are typically performed by going straight up and down, the kipping pull-up creates an arc, rather than a straight line, as a means to quickly propel the body upward.

In sports, there are rarely slow controlled movements like conventional pull-ups; real life activities typically involve using the body as a whole. Kipping pull-ups are an explosive, dynamic exercise, turning the pull-up into more of a full-body exercise as opposed to just working the upper body.

Utilizing the kipping technique for pull-ups usually allows for more total reps, which is why some gym rats have referred to it as "cheating." But I think that's somewhat of a juvenile attitude.

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Now don't get me wrong, pull-up contests can be a lot of fun, and it's okay to make stipulations as to what the guidelines of your particular contest are, but it's a shame to write off a great performance tool like the kipping pull-up due to a narrow minded view of proper form.

While strict, controlled pull-ups are fantastic for body-building and strength training, kipping pull-ups are great in the context of high intensity conditioning and circuit training. They get your heart rate up and they allow you to share the workload amongst more muscles, as opposed to just isolating the upper back and arms. I think the best approach is to have room for both of these types of pull-ups in your workout regimen. Variety is what it's all about.

Watch the videos below for demonstrations and more:

Al Kavadlo

Al Kavadlo is a personal trainer based in New York, New York; and the author of superb books such as We're Working Out: A Zen Approach to Everyday Fitness (review), Raising the Bar : The Definitive Guide to Bar Calisthenics and Pushing the Limits! Total Body Strength With No Equipment (or you can grab the entire collection for a 50% discount).

Swing by his blog for regular updates on bodyweight strength-training, conditioning, and nutrition. You'll also find him on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Youtube and Instagram. And, of course, in Gymchat 223 - Progressive Calisthenics. Fantastic conversation.

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