April 5, 2018

On Kipping Pull-ups

Woman Performing Pull-up

The Kipping Pull-up is not a bad exercise – it is an advanced exercise and there is a big difference between the two.

I have heard many coaches and trainers over the years talk about how dangerous kipping is to the shoulder girdle. It is not dangerous to a trained shoulder girdle, however, and those same trainers and coaches admit that. SO, why the big debate about it? To be clear, I don’t care if someone does them or not, but let’s please get on the same page that there is a place for them in fitness.

The argument against the kipping pull-up usually sounds like this:

Trainer: Kipping pull-ups are cheating and unsafe.
Audience: Why are they unsafe?
Trainer: They are unsafe because it puts a lot of stress on the shoulder if you are not strong enough to engage the correct areas properly. The range of motion puts the shoulder in a vulnerable position. And, most people don’t take time to learn the technique.

You can also find this argument among other advanced fitness movements. It is a generic argument that typically goes something like this:

Trainer: I don’t think <insert exercise> is beneficial. Or <Insert exercise> is unsafe and dumb.


Trainer Answer 1: Because most people don’t have the strength to do them with correct form.
Trainer Answer 2: Because most people aren’t taught how to do them properly.

While the answers given are true concerns, it is lazy to then come to the conclusion that no one should kip or do other advanced movements.

Kipping, like I said, is an advanced exercise. There are flexibility, strength, and coordination prerequisites before an athlete can attempt to kip safely. That is all they are, though, prerequisites. If there is a trainer out there who does not have any clients with the flexibility, strength, and coordination to kip, then I will tell you they are probably a bad trainer. What are you even working on? Will none of those clients ever get there? I also don’t care if trainers make their clients do kipping or not, but let’s stop having the lazy conclusions permeate into real-world psyche. Say what you mean and train your clients to be strong, flexible, and stable. Kipping pull-ups may take time to get. Be okay with taking time on your fitness evolution.

Kipping is everywhere in gymnastics.

Do those same trainers want to have arguments with every gymnastics coach in the world about kipping? Watch a gymnast swing around the uneven bars, let go and propel in the air, then catch the bar on the way down. The control they have is phenomenal. They have been trained to do that by coaches and trainers. If you are you not knowledgeable enough to train your clients to have the strength, coordination, and flexibility to perform a kip properly, and instead just call it unsafe out of laziness; work harder on learning or change professions. Lol.

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