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A Kip is a powerful hip and core movement that generates momentum.
It is most famous in the Kipping pull-up, but can also be used during ring dips, ring muscle ups, bar muscle ups, handstand push-ups and even the floor when someone wants to get to their feet quickly.
It involves a quick change of direction at the hips, and considering it originally derived from a German word meaning ‘seesaw’ or ‘tilt over’, this makes sense.
During the kipping pull-up, the kip generates upward momentum that helps the athlete get their chin or chest to the bar.
A kip looks different depending on the movement, but in all cases it requires a good amount of strength and skill.
It requires a simultaneous action of the upper body to direct the force generated. In the pull-up, the kip is generated from the shoulder girdle during the kipping swing, and then directed upward as the athlete pulls on the bar.
The similar occurs in a muscle-up. During the kipping ring dip, the athlete must push down on the rings to move his/her body upward at the exact moment of momentum.
In a handstand push-up, the athlete pushes against the floor as he/she simultaneously extends the hips and legs to generate the upward movement.
It is a common misconception that the CrossFit community “cheats” during pull-ups and/or causes injury by using the kip but this is incorrect. Any quality CrossFit coach advises their athletes to first train and become skilled at a strict pull-up before employing the kipping technique.
This ensures the athlete has first developed the requisite shoulder girdle strength necessary for kipping pull-ups.
After becoming proficient at both the strict and kipping pull-up techniques, a quality coach will program both movements and an athlete will benefit from training both movements, since they work different systems.
Rather than being a cheat, a kip is a method of adding intensity to a workout. Strict pull-ups are for strength; kipping pull-ups are for intensity, power and strength endurance.
For simplicity, this will outline progressions for the kipping pull-up, but the method can be applied to any of the kipping movements.