What is a Kip (or Kipping)?

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 is a quick change of direction at the hip that generates momentum.
  • A Kip can be used in pull-ups, ring dips, muscles ups and handstand push-ups.
  • To complete the movement, the athlete must simultaneously use the upper body to direct the momentum.
  • Kipping exercises are not “cheats” but rather a way to add intensity and power to a workout.
  • An athlete should develop enough strength to complete 3-5 strict repetitions of the exercise before adding the kipping movement.

Understanding ‘Kipping’

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. 

Kip Progressions 

For simplicity, this will outline progressions for the kipping pull-up, but the method can be applied to any of the kipping movements. 

  1. Train to complete 3-5 strict pull-ups – build the necessary strength for the base movement first. 
  2. Learn and train the kip swing – build the skill and core control to generate the movement
  3. Add the pull to the kip swing to get chin/chest to bar – build the coordination to simultaneously add force and direction to the kip to complete the movement
  4. Learn how to push away at the top of the bar instead of just dropping down to string multiple repetitions together – practice doing more than one in a row        
  5. Use in WODs!
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Amanda Chismar

Amanda Chismar is a seasoned wellness and fitness professional with over 14 years of diverse career experience in both the public and private sector. Amanda earned her degree in Kinesiology from the Pennsylvania State University and has held numerous certifications including NSCA CPT, NASM CES, CrossFit Level 2 Trainer, USAW Sports Performance Coach, YogaFit Instructor, Johnny G Spinning Cycle Instructor. Additionally, Amanda was co-owner and coach of a CrossFit facility for five years, has completed five marathons for charity and competed in Olympic Weightlifting.

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