“The Craziest Exercise Ever”

That’s what Men’s Health calls the kipping pullup. But fortunately they are being tongue-in-cheek. This is actually a fair and accurate article. How refreshing. Check it out.

If you watched the CrossFit Games on ESPN2 or have ever visited a CrossFit gym, you’ve probably seen a kipping pullup. The move combines a hip drive, kick, and arm pull to build momentum that helps raise your chin over the bar.

In short, it looks like a flailing mess—albeit an impressive one.

We wondered: Is the kipping pullup just cheating? Or could this crazy flailing thing actually have a purpose?

“I don’t consider kipping pullups cheating because I don’t even consider them a pullup,” says Men’s Health Power Training author Robert Dos Remedios, C.S.C.S., who we should mention is not affiliated with CrossFit. “They’re in their own category.”

Your standard dead-hang pullup uses your vertical pulling muscles, Dos Remedios explains. Those usually aren’t very strong, especially compared to your horizontal pulling muscles—the ones you use when doing an inverted row, for example.

With a kipping pullup, though, you swing your body back, putting your torso at an angle to the bar instead of directly below it. “Because of your body position, it’s a little bit of a vertical pull and little bit of a horizontal pull, so it’s easier than doing a dead-hang pullup,” Dos Remedios explains. “You’re just stronger at that angle.”

Dos Remedios, for example, says he can do about 15 traditional pullups, but 30 kipping ones.

So just how is that not cheating?

If your plan calls for a regular pullup, then it is. “If you’re aiming to do a vertical pulling exercise, it should be some sort of a pullup or chinup variation rather than a kip,” says Dos Remedios. “Otherwise you’re really not using the muscles that are meant to vertically pull.”

But don’t write off the kip completely. “We use it in complexes—exercises that pair two or more moves sequentially with the same weight—where you’re going to get really gassed for a metabolic effect. With these workouts, you’re trying to move as fast as possible, so I use a kipping pullup,” Dos Remedios explains. (Click here to watch Dos Remedios teach you one with kipping pullups, explosive dive-bombers, and sumo burpees.)

7 Responses to ““The Craziest Exercise Ever””

  1. Kai

    That’s pretty much it, they aren’t the same.

    If I’m with climbers trying to see who can do the most pullups, I would never ever kip.

    Pre-crossfit I thought kipping pullups were cheating, and even for a short time I thought I could do crossfit without kipping. But then there were days when we’d do 70+ pullups.

    Kipping pullups are just a way to use your whole body to do the same amount of work, keep your heart rate up, and get the same range of motion done waaaay faster.

  2. Will

    Agreed, Kai. But don’t you think that we need to hear from Crazy Kelly on this subject? One would think she is an expert on something that is alleged to be “The Craziest Exercise Ever,” right?

  3. Steve

    Concur with the article, but did anyone watch the video of Coach Dos’ killer 30 rep complex of kipping pullups, dive-bomb pushups and “burpees”??

  4. Will

    Yeah, pretty badass. Maybe we’ll do that workout next week … FOR A WARMUP!

  5. Kai

    When my sister was in town last I had her try crossfit.

    Later she told me she knew why she was so sore. It was because I had ‘tricked’ her into doing two workouts.

    I didn’t have the heart to tell her the warmup really was just a warmup, and that the WOD was just a beginner workout.

    Go crossfit!