Fitness Tips

Kipping Pull-Ups *Aren’t* Cheating—But Here’s How To Do Them Correctly

Tehrene Firman

Photo: Getty Images/Cavan Images
Kipping pull-ups are controversial. Needlessly so, says Dominic Anthony, trainer and owner of Dominic Effect. The movement requires swinging your legs back and forth, using momentum to drive up into your pull-up, which some fitness experts consider “cheating.” According to Anthony, however, kipping pull-ups are a building block as you work up to more advanced exercises.

“Since you’re using momentum to execute the kipping pull-up, you generally perform more repetitions versus a standard pull-up. This builds up muscular endurance, which plays a key role in building strength,” he says. “We all start somewhere, and this is how we grow and build inner and outer confidence.”

Kipping pull-ups are great for building strength as well as endurance. “When you’re performing kipping pull-ups, you’re using momentum from your lower body. The upper body (forearms, biceps, chest) is still being activated and challenged, but it’s more geared toward endurance versus maximum strength efforts,” he says. “They’re often seen being performed by gymnasts, who will attest that they’re a great core exercise. Any pull-up focuses on engaging your core.”

If you want to learn exactly how to perform kipping pull-ups—and master the correct form!—use Anthony’s step-by-step instructions below. With regular practice, it won’t take long for you to start developing CrossFit-level strength.

How to do kipping pull-ups

  1. Position yourself under the bar, arms raised, and hands shoulder-width apart. Give yourself a slight launch forward, grasping the bar with both hands and raising yourself with a good amount of space (generally 1.5 feet) between your head and the bar.
  2. Propel your chest forward, initiating the swing with your shoulders. This will help you alternate between arched and hollow positions. Keep the core tight while also swinging your lower body, legs pressed together, lifting knees toward the hip area. Your body will look similar to a banana shape when momentum is building.
  3. After 3 to 4 swings comes the “hip pop” move. Your momentum plays the key role here, where you’ll pop your hips open (more commonly known as a hip thruster) as you pull yourself up toward the bar. Try keeping your elbows and shoulders pressed down versus back.
  4. After getting your chin over the bar, push yourself back and away into a hollow position. Immediately, pop your chest out again to launch that momentum for another rep (step 2).
  5. Repeat Steps 2 to 4 until fatigue.

If you’re more comfortable on the floor, learn how to do a push-up the right way:

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