Has there ever been a time that you see “pull ups” in a workout and wonder if kipping is the way to go or if muscling though the reps strict would be best? Even though they are both considered “pull ups” they are two very different movements, and have separate uses when applied to fitness and your workout of the day.

Why is it important to master Strict Pullups?
Whether you’re an adamant CrossFitter, a B|Fitter, or like to mix it up, both strict and kipping pull ups are going to help you build strength and anaerobic capacity. When it comes to stability, body awareness and proper muscle activation, strict pull ups are going to give you the “strength” we need to become efficient at kipping pull ups (and other pulling movements too). It is important to learn the basics and foundation of the strict pull up before trying to kip. If we fail to master the basics, the kipping pull up turns into an uncontrollable swing on the bar. Rule of thumb: be able to do 3-5 strict pull ups before attempting unassisted kipping pull-up. It maximizes safety and efficiency while progressing the movement.

When do I use Strict Pull-ups vs. Kipping?
It is also important to know that there is a time and a place for each style of pullup. During a CrossFit METCON, when we are racing against the clock trying for the best score possible, kipping pull ups are going to be the best choice. When we use the “kip” motion we allow other muscle groups (hips and midline) engage and assist the upper body. This allows us to do more reps without as much fatigue. Kipping pull-ups really help when we are looking to maximize our “Fran” score, for example.

On the flip side, the strict pull up is a wonderful strength movement to work on in order to excel in any upper body pull (ie. kipping pull-ups, butterfly pull-ups, chest to bar pull-ups, muscle ups, and more!). It is wise to add strict work into your workouts, whether that’s doing weighted strict pull-ups for the more advanced athlete, or scaling to your own personal skill level.

So, if I want to get better at kipping pull-ups, I need to get stronger at strict pull-ups. How can I get better at those?
For most people, this movement can be quite intimidating. In our “Upper Body Pulling” Part 1 Skill Series, we’ll be covering a number of scaling techniques and accessory work pieces to learn how we can get better at pull-ups both in class and on your own!

Want to dig a little deeper? Check out this article!

  • Lindsey Mikulecky