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Friday, October 21, 2011

The Kipping Pullup

"What was that swinging pullup thing you were doing in your workout the other day?"  a good friend of mine asked me last week.

Why that is called a kipping pullup good buddy!

The kipping pullup has been one of the most debated exercises in the fitness community the past few years.  Many fitness experts balk at the idea of swinging on a pullup bar.  They believe it is the cheaters way of performing a pullup.  Many believe it is unsafe.  You will dislocate your shoulder from all the violent swinging, or fall off the bar because you are out of control.

I believe it is a great training tool.  The kipping pullup is used to increase power in a workout.  The first thing we must understand is what we want out of a workout.  If you are performing a workout for time, then you want to find the fastest and most efficient way to perform a given exercise.  You do this by increasing power output.

WARNING!  I am about to get very physicsy'.  If you don't like math or physics you may want to skip ahead a few paragraphs.

P(power)= F(force)xD(distance)/T(time)

With a pullup, D(distance) remains a constant.  Whether you are performing a strict, jumping, or kipping pullup, the distance traveled is always the same (arms fully extended at the bottom, chin over the bar at the top).  What we need to change to increase power is F(force) and T(time).  We want to increase F(force) as much as possible while decreasing the amount of T(time) spend performing the task.


With a pullup, M(mass) remains a constant.  Your body weight is the mass you are moving.  To increase F(force) you must increase A(acceleration).  This is done by adding a "Kip" to the pullup motion.

Adding a "Kip" to the pullup motion also decreases the amount of T(time) it takes to travel the given D(distance) by adding momentum [M(mass) x V(velocity)] to the movement.

Therefore, you are able to perform the movement with greater F(force) in less T(time) which increases P(power).  Which is exactly what we are trying to accomplish!

SAFE ZONE!  For those of you who skipped the physics section above, you are safe to continue reading below.

The kipping pullup is not the same as a strict pullup and should not be done in place of a strict pullup.  In a well designed program, both types of pullup should be performed.  The kipping pullup should be thought of as a different exercise.  The same way walking is different from running.  The same way a strict press is different from a push-jerk.  The range of motion is the same, but the way you get the work done is different.

The kipping pullup can be a dangerous exercise.  Just like any exercise!  A squat can be dangerous when done wrong.  A pushup can ruin your rotator cuff if done incorrectly.  Riding a bike can kill you if ridden irresponsibly.  You must learn how to perform the movement correctly and perform it in a safe environment.

Would I perform a kipping pullup on a wet pullup bar?  NO!  Would I perform a kipping pullup on a bar hung in a doorway?  NO!  Would I perform a kipping pullup on a bar this guy made?

Common sense must be used when exercising!

Next time you see someone in your gym swinging like an idiot on the pullup bar, ask him why he's doing it.  He just might be doing a kipping pullup.


Great costumes again this year. I couldn't wait to see what you two were going as this year.
I tried your suggestion to deter trick or treaters but the temperature here is quite cold so I thought it best to give them treats and keep my pants on. It is a good thing you work out if that is what you do at your house!!
We had one Halloween visit from cleopatra this year. I use the leftover treats for lunch so I don't give out candy. She got peanut butter crackers. I hope that was a better choice.

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