In an earlier article we discussed the kipping pull-up and some of the exercises that it is derived. The strict pull-up is one of these variations that is the grounds for all kipping pull-ups, often forming the building blocks for more advanced movements such as the kipping pull-up.

In this short article, we plan to revisit the strict pull-up vs the kipping pull-up to find out which is best for specific needs and goals.

Strict Pull-Ups

In the below video the strict pull-up is demonstrated. Take note in the proper setup, hand placement, and scapular control that is required to create the rear for correct execution of the strict pull-up.

Kipping Pull-Ups

In the below video the kipping pull-up is demonstrated. Note how the movement is done inside a more rhythmic nature compared to strict pull-up, and requires additional teaching from the “kip” to correctly be executed.

Kipping Pull-Ups vs Strict Pull-Ups

In the below section we compare and contrast the strict pull-up vs kipping pull-up to determine which exercise is perfect for your purpose.

Muscular Hypertrophy and Strength

Building muscle and foundational strength is key for any level of fitness and sport. While both pull-up movements offer a similar experience (kipping vs strict), strict pull-ups will work to build up the concentric, isometric, and eccentric muscle actions with the range of motion trained. Kipping pull-ups tend to reduce the amount of strength and force production needed to complete the movement because of the kip motion propelling your body upwards (via hip extension).

Both movements can induce muscle damage, hypertrophy, and some amount of strength, however strict pull-ups are the better option for development of muscle tissue and strength.

Gymnastic and Competitive Fitness Skill

Kipping pull-ups are primarily observed in gymnastics and Competitive fitness WODs/training. While they do offer benefits for coaches and athletes outside of both of these sports-specific needs, strict pull-ups are still seen as an foundational bodyweight movement for all.

With that said, athletes and coaches who are looking for increased body mechanics, awareness, muscular and grip endurance, and particular gymnastics or competitive fitness skills; the kipping pull-up is a necessity for overall development of a sports athlete.

Likelihood of Injury

Any exercise can lead to injury if done incorrectly, excessively, or without properly addressing mobility and stability needs. Assuming those are all controlled variables, the kipping pull-up may place an individual in a higher risk of damage that a strict pull-up for some reasons. (1) The kipping pull-up is often trainer in higher volumes than the strict pull-up and for that reason places greater muscular demands and recovery needs on an individual, making it much more likely to cause excessive strain and injury to muscle and connective tissues. (2) This kipping pull-up demands greater joint stability, mobility, and control because the movement is performed in a rhythmic and ballistic manner. In case a person doesn’t possess sufficient scapular stabilization, midline control, and/or technique, he/she can certainly create shoulder, elbow, and muscular issues.

Degree of Difficulty

Both movements can be deemed difficult, however often because of different reasons. The strict pull-up is challenging because it needs a great amount of body strength, muscle tissue (in the arms and back), along with a good sense of body control when hanging from the bar. Kipping pull-ups, require slightly less strength and muscle tissue to do the movement, as body momentum is used (the kip). Having said that, complexity is elevated because of the lifter having to understand body rhythm, awareness, and also have sufficient mobility to perform the kip.

Both movements can be tough for any beginner, however the strict pull-up should be taught and developed first to maximise strength, muscle tissue, joint and muscle tissue resilience to injury, and hang the building blocks for more advanced movements like the kipping pull-up.

Best for Beginners

When determining which movement is BEST for beginners (muscular development and injury risks), coaches must understand the need for fundamental strength and muscle mass created through strict pull-ups and direct regressions (band assisted pull-ups). Often, coaches and athletes may allow kipping along with other types of ballistic pull-ups (jumping pull-ups) because of the lower strength threshold required to perform (due to the use of momentum).

While this is not entirely ill-advised, it is suggested that lifters try to build strength, joint stability, and strengthen muscle and ligament before partaking in higher intensity and better eccentrically loaded ballistic movements like the kipping pull-up.

Pull-Up Articles

Check out the below pull-up progressions and use guides to enhance your fitness and WOD performance.

  • Chest to Bar Pull-Ups Progressions for Beginners
  • Can’t do chest to close pull-ups? Try these regressed versions and get better!