You may have wondered about that movement CrossFitters (mostly) use to achieve gymnastic maneuvers on the bar for multiple reps, making it seem like they effortlessly pull themselves up to the bar. Well, the answer is quite simple: the key lies in the proper application of “Kipping.” Kipping is a technique widely used in Olympic gymnastics and particularly popular in the world of CrossFit. While some people may consider it controversial, when done correctly, it can be a valuable tool to enhance performance in certain gymnastic movements on the bar.
But this leads us to the following questions: What is Kipping? What is the purpose of kipping? How can I learn to kip? Is it okay to do Kipping?
The answer to all these questions (like most fitness-related questions) is the same: IT DEPENDS. It depends 100% on your objectives and whether this tool will help or hinder your progress.
What is Kipping?
First and foremost, it’s essential to understand that “Kipping” is a technique within Olympic gymnastics that allows you to generate momentum while hanging from a bar (or rings) and, as a result, execute controlled movements of your body on the bar to propel your bodyweight to your advantage. Whether it’s getting your chin above the bar (Pull Up), bringing your chest to the bar (Chest to Bar), touching your toes to the bar (T2B), or the famous and coveted “Muscle Up.”
What is the Purpose of Kipping?
The primary function of this movement, as mentioned before, is to facilitate an athlete’s ability to move their body around the bar or hanging object using the greatest range of motion possible with the least amount of effort to preserve energy and accumulate the maximum amount of work at a faster-than-normal speed. In other words, to be able to do more repetitions in less time with less physical strain on the major muscles involved, thanks to momentum generated by the athlete through three key movements:
• Lat Pull Down
(None of these are less important than the others, it’s worth noting, that they are all crucial to the overall efficiency of the movement.)
Now, if we analyze the basic movements of this technique, we can notice a common factor in all three fundamental movements, and that is strength. Both in the Hollow and the Superman Hold, strength is applied throughout your body, from the tips of your toes to the tips of your fingers. Doing this correctly is of utmost importance because that tension in your body is what gives your kipping the necessary power to be effective.
Common Errors in Kipping
Like any movement, there are common errors that people make, often unknowingly, and in this case, the major ones are:
- Applying the movement without the necessary strength
- Bending the legs and arching the back (caused by and leading to not engaging the quadriceps properly)
- Moving with legs apart (not squeezing the glutes)
- Lack of coordination
How Can I Learn to Kip safely?
Have you heard that you’re never good enough to stop doing the basics? Well, this is a perfect example of that famous saying. Before attempting this movement, you need to absolutely understand how to do a Hollow and Superman (Arch) CORRECTLY.
To learn to kip, once you have mastered those basic movements, all that’s left is to put them into practice.
The third movement, the Lat Pull Down, is executed at the same time as your hollow, and it helps us generate more momentum, allowing us to return to the arch with more force and become even stronger with each repetition.
Kipping Warm up
In order to execute these movements correctly, prior activation and a proper warm-up are indispensable to avoid the risk of injuries, especially in the shoulders, since it is a movement in which you are hanging the whole time. Your upper body needs to be ready for the sudden movement.
- Dead Hang
- Active Hang
- Scap Pull Ups (Transition between Dead hang and Active hang)
After that, we can move on to the core area, working on:
Finally, it’s time to put each of the puzzle pieces in place, starting with:
- Active Hang
- Hollow / Arch
The correct transition between the Hollow and Superman positions (Arch when hanging from the bar) will generate momentum to initiate the “Kipping” movement. Once this transition is mastered, it’s time to add drills to improve the power of the movement and allow the hips to reach the highest point possible.
One of the drills we recommend is the “Hip Pump,” which consists of trying to lift your hands off the bar you are hanging from every time you reach the “Hollow” position during your kipping. This forces your hips to do the work of pushing the body for a correct transition. The more power you generate with your hips, the greater height you can achieve.”
Is It Okay to Do Kipping?
This technique is primarily used in bar gymnastics, but the hollow and superman are the foundation of all gymnastics in general. As mentioned before, this technique helps you do more in less time, but it must be clear that it’s not for everyone. If your pull-up training aims for hypertrophy, then it’s not the best option. However, if you plan to compete in events where performance matters, then definitely yes.
Finally, you must consider that if you’re going to do this movement, you need to have the necessary strength to do at least 1 to 3 strict pull-up repetitions; otherwise, this movement can be counterproductive. When hanging and balancing your body, your muscles and joints require a certain level of strength. If you still can’t do strict pull-ups, don’t worry; keep working on your basics until you master them, and then this movement will make many things easier for you. If you’re going to start doing this movement for the first time, make sure you have the support of an expert or coach, and remember:
YOU’RE NEVER TOO GOOD TO WORK ON THE BASICS 😉