It’s Muscle Monday again and it’s about time I give you insight into an age old argument between the weight lifting community and crossfitters – strict form pull-ups vs kipping.
This is a beef that has been around for some time now…I’ve never been a crossfitter, but I’ve known plenty – and I’ll state right off the bat my thoughts. I don’t believe in kipping when it comes to pull-ups, but I’ll shed light on both sides of the argument.
Kipping has its pros and cons, but the cons often outweigh the pros, especially considering the egregious fuck ups you see happen in a crossfitter gym when newbies aren’t trained properly or try and accelerate too quickly (personal responsibility, please, in the name of all things holy).
Kipping is also pretty pointless if you haven’t mastered a strict form pull-up, and I’ll be honest everyone has kipped a little at some point in their lifting life; not seizuring the absolute fuck out of the bar, mind you, as you see with some kipping and butterfly pull-ups across social media.
But when you’re trying to push for a new AMRAP record with strict form pull-ups, a little lower body assistance via swinging does inevitably sometimes come into play when the upper part of your posterior chain is getting exhausted, no matter how much you may try and avoid it (side note: if you kip tho, that’s not a real rep. Just saying).
There’s also the issue of it exacerbating or creating shoulder problems, but I think if I had to be completely objective, I’d say the greatest shoulder injury risk of all is the god-forsaken butterfly pull-up.
But let’s just get straight to the pros and cons of both, because that’s really what this post is all about.
Strict Form Pull-ups Pros and Cons
- Are great for strength and endurance development and training.
- Can build upper back muscle mass FAST, in conjunction with the right workout nutrition.
- Help develop your lats (latissimus dorsi), biceps, rear delts, brachialis, and many more muscles specifically.
- Help you learn and maintain the ability to activate important muscles and mobility in things like lat activation, scapula retraction, core engagement, and shoulder mobility.
- Are a true testament to strength – if you can’t do a strict form pull-up, you haven’t tapped into your real strength.
- Are difficult to do when first starting out.
Most people think they’re doing strict form pull-ups, but often without proper core and lat activation, are rarely done properly. These must be developed through other exercises that train your muscles to do number 3 above.
Kipping Pull-ups Pros and Cons
- Are good for hypertrophy, at the end of a strict form pull-up set – but only if you know how to do strict form pull-ups, 5 being the minimum.
- Never teach you or help you work towards doing a real, strict form pull-up properly.
- Don’t build muscle mass on their own, so if you’re goal is that, don’t bother.
- Can cause severe shoulder injury, if the invididual’s shoulders are tight, lacking mobility and strength throughout the coronal planes (your front and rear delts).
Most importantly, for the love of god, please stop doing butterfuly pull-ups. They’re the worst thing to happen to fitness industry and the most likely to cause you shoulder injury.
Bottom line is, strict form pull-ups are king.
They’re the primary way to measure and determine true upper body strength, then build even more from there. Like the squat, there’s no way to cheat a true, strength building pull-up.
It may sound impressive to say you can do 100 pull-ups – but when you grab the bar and start kipping for each rep, you’re only cheating yourself.
Happy Monday – keep it simple, stupid.
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