Before we get to the benefits, you might be wondering what Kipping Pull-ups actually are? For those not familiar with CrossFit or
haven’t seen any of the CrossFit games a brief explanation is in order. It is a part of that specialized workout program and is used as a part of their games.
You start in a standard pull-up position. But, instead of using your arms and back muscles to draw yourself straight up to get your chin over the bar you use your lower body in what some people consider a ‘cheating’ motion. You swing your hips and body back, then forward, and then back which get them up higher which changes the angle from a straight vertical pull to a more horizontal one. The use of stronger back muscles along with the lesser distance to travel and factoring in the hip swing allows more reps to be accomplished. The swing adds to your momentum on the up pull.
So does this mean the exercise has less of an effect on your muscles? The answer is yes and no because you are now targeting the body in a different manner.
For a pure standpoint of building your lats, using a kipping pull-up is less of a pull and more of a ‘pop’ motion. You won’t get the same benefit to the back and biceps as you do with a standard pull-up.
Are there Benefits?
Yes there is a specific reason to use a kipping pull-up; it has a great metabolic aspect to it. The reason the style is different for CrossFit is to enable people to do more repetitions. You do more repetitions to keep moving as fast as possible while engaging multiple muscle groups at the same time.
Another great reason for this exercise is that you are working many muscles in a different way; different is always good. The swinging motion you start with to get the momentum building works the hips, abdominals, and lower back. The forearms, shoulders, middle, and upper back muscles are also going to get work on the upswing. On the downswing if you keep your momentum going the lats are going to get some work in a very interesting way.
This exercise will build strength in your upper body. Just like starting with 1 pull-up and working up to 20 will get you stronger, doing the same with the kipping pull-up will also increase your strength. But the style of this exercise is less of a bodybuilding move designed for muscle size and strength and more of an athletic move designed for strength and endurance.
The Bottom Line
The kipping pull-up is a good exercise used in the context of the Crossfit or similar style workout. It is not going to replace the pull-up in a standard bodybuilding style workout. But if you are doing a strength and endurance type of routine that also gives you a metabolic boost then this is a great exercise to include for upper body strength and agility.