Bodybuilder and fitness entrepreneur Simeon Panda frequently shares workout advice on his Instagram page, and in a recent post where he demonstrates his wide grip pullup, he discusses his thoughts on an occasionally controversial technique; kipping, which is when a person swings their body during a pullup in order to gain momentum.
“To kip or not to kip, that is the question,” Panda wrote in the caption. He goes on to explain that he tends to perform pullups for a total of 8 sets of 10 reps. As he nears the end of the sets and begins to feel more fatigued, he says it can be more difficult to complete the reps to good form.
However, instead of swinging his body, he adopts a different approach. “Rather than kipping, I believe it is more beneficial as an effective back exercise, for you to hang, recover and keep going 1 strict rep at a time,” he said, adding: “This advice is dependent on your goal when performing the exercise, if your goal is to target your back you’ll want to keep the reps as clean as possible.”
Compared to a strict pullup, kipping can compensate for a lack of upper body strength by introducing explosive movement from the lower body. But while this might help somebody to complete a rep, it also places less of a demand on the muscles that the move traditionally targets, which can make it kind of pointless if your goal is to build strength or muscle.
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“Kipping pullups have value,” says Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel C.S.C.S. “The kipping pullup is key to learning the muscle-up, and a great many other bar skills. Gymnasts must understand the kip, and trapeze artists or aspiring parkour athletes need to understand how to pull it off, too.”
But kipping should come after you’ve already perfected the strict pullup. “It’s not a progression,” says Samuel. “If you reverse the order, yes, fitness baby gets their first pullup more quickly.. .But start this way and you also don’t actually have the requisite back and lat strength to pull yourself up.”
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