Friday, 6 September 2013

Don't kip during pull ups. Just don't!

I wrote something on a whiteboard for the Crossfit group at mi-gym. It was supposed to be a light hearted joke for them but the image has been shared quite a lot and it got me thinking on why I wrote it in the first place...
Fishy opinion on kipping pull ups
The message reads:
"If you 'kip' then you are a 'kipper'
A kipper is a fish!
Pull up properly"

For the uninitiated, many Crossfitters swing into their pull ups and muscle ups to add momentum, effectively reducing the work their muscles are doing (making the exercise less effective??)
It's a nice word for bad form.

Now Crossfit workouts can get very competitive, this side of things can be really motivating for those taking part. It's something about mi-gym that I absolutely love. I love recording the results of challenges and seeing how I did overall and how much I bettered myself from the last time, it motivates me.

The theory is that as you train, you'll get stronger and faster and will be able to perform more reps, or an allocated number of reps in a faster time than you could previously. 
For those that are new to Crossfit, or just aren't strong enough to keep up yet, all the exercises are scalable (something else I like about mi-gym). You can reduce the weight on resisted exercises or use bands to assist in bodyweight exercises (such as pull ups), so everyone can train together and you can adjust what you are doing as you get stronger over time. All sounds great!

Sadly the competitive side is a double-edged sword. As in any competition, people will look to win at any cost and will seek the competitive edge while staying within the rules. And so the 'kipping pull-up' was born. At some point, some people that were (presumably) strong enough to perform an actual pull up introduced the swing in order to do more pull ups faster and in doing so, not really performing a pull up at all.

My opinion on the matter (and it really is just my opinion) is that if you aren't strong enough to do XX number of pull ups as part of the prescribed workout, then use a band to assist for now, then train your ass off at pulling exercises until you are strong enough to do them unassisted (by band or by kip).

I'm starting to see fit people with very little pulling strength as a result of learning to kip and forgetting that it's an exercise not a race.
After all, surely if the exercise is pull ups and you start kipping then you're basically just cheating?

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