There’s no doubt about it, kipping pullups are faster than strict pullups. During timed workouts, those who crank out kipping pullups generally finish the workout with faster times than those who are going through the workout with strict pullups. Who really wins?…the person who tops the board with a faster time or the person who did a harder variation of the prescribed exercise? The answer to that question depends on your personal outlook as to what you’re trying to accomplish and what you consider to be a better workout.

At Athletic Lab, we prefer to see the use of kipping pullups confined to timed workouts or during a max pull up test. And even then, we like the kip to be conservative and not a wild flailing action. For pullups outside of a timed workout or a max output, strict pullups are recommended.

Those who are new to pullups are encouraged to keep working on their pullup strength through strict pullups before moving on to kipping. If pullups require a band: once the band is removed, strict pullups without a band should be the next goal. According to Dr. Mike Young, director of sports performance and co-owner of Athletic Lab, “I’d like to see people be able to do at least 10 strict pullups before attempting high rep kipping pullups. Once kipping is mastered, it would be best reserved for timed workouts. That [strict pullups] ensures you have an appropriate level of shoulder and back strength to provide support to an inherently unstable joint instead of just flailing around on ligaments, tendons and fascia using momentum.”

The next two blogs will take an in depth look into anatomical reasons and offer training load insights as to why Dr. Young and Athletic Lab stand on this belief.

[This article was written by Cate Young. Cate has been a lead instructor at Athletic Lab since its inception. She is a former collegiate athlete and holds certifications from USAW and USATF]