Are Kipping Pullups Cheating?

This:                                                                                    is not this:

Kip Pull-up

….absolutely true.  CrossFit is frequently the target of derision among those who haven’t done a WOD.  Without a foothold from which to attack the science, they instead pick out minutae – like the kipping pullup – and ridicule, instead of question.

The goal of the kipping pullup? Perform more work.  Not “isolate the back” (as if such a thing were possible,) or “widen the lats” or “build thickness.”  The kipping motion allows for greater wattage output in the same amount of time, and more consecutive work to be accomplished.

The most common counter-kipping position?  It’s “cheating.”  But by whose rule-sheet?  Is there a secret Hoyle Book of Calisthenic Exercise?  Is this guy really our best frame of reference; our greatest referee?

Kipping is different, yes; and often, different means scary.  That’s our Lizard Brain talking.

A kipping pullup and a bodybuilding pullup are different exercises. Neither are ‘better’ than the other without the context of the athlete’s goal.  The goal of the kipping pullup is NOT to develop the ‘bodybuilder’ pullup; therefore, use of the kip does not detract from the usefulness of the exercise.

I’m still amazed, after 14 years in the industry, at the furious arguments online over what’s “right” or “wrong” – as if there were such things.   Our goals, as part of the CrossFit community, are to increase work capacity across broad time and modal domains.  Do bodybuilder-style pullups have their place at our table?  Yes, insofar as they increase our ability to do more abduction in the frontal plane in less time.  They’re an assistance exercise, like front squats and bench presses.  They’re means to a greater end.

The path to glory can’t be charted from a couch.  If you’re exploring the New World, you’ve got to be on this side of the globe before you can comment on the natives.

Start here

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