The kipping pull-up is a sport specific movement in CrossFit that incorporates elements of a gymnastics gliding kip to improve the efficiency of the pull-up. This new movement is a kipping pull-up using an elastic resistance band. The intent is to increase force production and efficiency in the kipping pull-up.
Equipment needed for this drill include resistance band(s), weight belt, pull-up bar and weight that is 40% or greater than the body weight of the athlete (to secure the band to the floor). The heavier the band, the greater the weight needed to secure at the bottom.
Step 1: Attach a band to weight directly beneath the pull-up bar and to weight belt.
Step 2: Perform the arch of the kipping movement
Step 3: Perform the hollow position of the kip, allowing the band to go between the legs
Step 4: Using the hip, generate upward momentum just as you would with an un-banded kipping pull-up to complete the repetition.
Note that a secondary set-up with two bands to each side of the athlete may be used, but the bands should be lighter than when using a single band setup. The pull-up bar should be high enough that the athlete´s feet will not touch the floor or weight during the kip. If necessary, the athlete may use a box or step to reach the pull-up bar to initiate the movement if needed.
For the execution of the movement, the athlete performs a standard kipping pull-up. The feet may have to separate more than normal during execution of the movement to accommodate for the band between the legs.
Literature Overview of Elastic Band Training
Much of the literature reviewed focused on the use of elastic bands in conjunction with the back squat and/or bench press, though some also included the deadlift. Only one study examined focused on elastic bands with sport specific training. Within the studies, power, force, velocity and torque were examined with elastic band training vs. free weight training/control group.
When using elastic bands, there is added resistance through both the concentric and eccentric phases of movement (Wallace, 2006). Israetel concluded that ¨elastic bands seem to increase force, power, and muscle activity during the early portions of the eccentric phase and latter portions of concentric phase (Israetel, 2010, 190)¨. Due to the effect of the band, the eccentric phase is faster and the research indicates ¨that the faster a muscle is eccentrically loaded or lengthened, the greater resultant concentric forces produced¨ (Cronin, 2003, p. 60). In weighted and non-weighted pull-up training, the resistance remains constant. Resistance bands have a length-tension relationship that is linear (Findley, 2004, p. 69). Because of the linear increase in resistance, resistance band pull-up training is unique to other training methods.
Some studies suggest that using the elastic band in conjunction with free weight training is beneficial, but longer studies are needed (Ghigiarelli, 2009). On a longer study that took place over 24 weeks, researchers found that elastic bands + free weight experimental group had significantly higher peak torque, average power and 1RM squats than the control group (Shoepe, 2011, p. 93). Consequently, this would suggest that a varied pull-up progression utilizing resistance bands, weighted pull-ups, strict pull-ups and kipping un-weighted pull-ups would be the most effective for efficient force production.
In applying this concept to a sport specific movement, a study done on Tae Kwon Do kicking velocity using elastic bands found a 7% improvement in the experimental group compared with a .1% improvement in the control group (Jakubiak, 2008). This is a significant study as it addressed a sport specific skill. The author noted that the band needed to be light enough to preserve the technique (Jakubiak, 2008). This is an important consideration for the kipping pull-up as we do not want to negatively impact the technique or speed of the movement.
Overall, low percentage of elastic tension (10% of 1RM) has been shown to better improve strength while high percentage of elastic tension (30% of 1RM) better aids in ¨explosive power production¨ (Paditaeree, 2016, p. 573). Following the study from Tae Kwon Do athletes, this reinforces the use of lighter resistance bands to maximize on greater force production and power in the movement.
The Kipping Pull-up
When the standard pull-up was compared to the kipping pull-up, there were significant differences in muscle activation. The latissimus dorsi and biceps brachii had lower activation in the kipping pull-up vs. a standard pull-up (Dinuzio, 2017). The kipping pull-up revealed higher activation of the rectus abdominus, external oblique, tensor fasciae latae and iliopsoas (Dinuzio, 2017). These differences demonstrate both the comprehensiveness of the kipping pull-up as a strength exercise and the efficiency through summation of forces to allow for a higher volume of repetitions. This is why it is common to see even intermediate athletes with 20+ unbroken kipping pull-ups.
This CrossFit, sport specific movement can be done weighted through the use of a weight vest, but is not as common in standard programming. Strict weighted pull-ups using chain belts are a standard part of a comprehensive gymnastics program for a CrossFit athlete. There is a disconnect in regularly training kipping pull-ups with resistance.
Force is the key component that allows for improvements in power, work and torque. Because the band should not significantly decrease the time to complete the movement and distance remains the same, force must increase to overcome the resistance of the band. We are increasing work and torque because of the force production increase, but the most important is power. Kipping pull-ups are used in a timed environment and completing the repetitions in the quickest time in the most efficient way is very important.
The band does not only provide resistance on the upward pull, but it also pulls the athlete at an accelerated rate back towards the found. During the eccentric phase of the movement, angular momentum is increased because the band pulls back towards the origin. Because of the increase in momentum, the athletes must work harder to resist the band and slow down the movement.
Kipping pull-ups can be performed with small or large range of motion. The resistance band provides a linear resistance, as opposed to constant resistance with body-weight only or weighted pull-ups (with chain belt + discs or weighted vest). Given that the resistance increases as the athlete continues to stretch the band at the end range of the pull-up, there must be a bigger range of motion and summation of forces to overcome the extra resistance and downward pull.
Chin over bar
Arch Hollow Chin over bar
The forces seen in the free body diagram above are as follows:
- I – Internal force forward in the arch phase of the kip
- B – Bodyweight resistance
- R – Resistance of the band during the arch phase of the kip
- I2 – Internal force upward during the hollow portion of the kip
- R2 – Resistance of the band during the hollow phase of the kip as the athlete accelerates upward
- I3 – Internal force to maintain a chin over the bar position to complete the repetition
- R3 – Resistance of the band when the athlete is at the top of the pull-up
- Stage 1 – Arch
- Stage 2 – Hollow position (kipping upwards)
- Stage 3 – Chin over bar, completion of repetition
In stage 1 of the movement, B is acting in the y-axis, I in the x-axis and R has components in both the x and y-axis.
In stage 2, B is the only force acting solely in the y-axis. I2 is acting in both the x- and y-axis as the athlete is generating force upwards at an angle. R2 also acts in both axes as the band is connected to a fixed point.
All forces act in the y-axis.
Summary of stages and free body diagram
In a body-weight only kipping pull-up or weighted vest kipping pull-up, the external forces on the athlete remain constant and only act in the y-axis. When the resistance band is fixed to a weight directly below the pull-up bar, the forces acting on the athlete change as they rotate about the bar. Not only does the band provide linear resistance as during the pull-up, but also during the kipping motion. The athlete must generate additional force simply to complete the kip. As the athlete executes the arch or hollow in stage 1 and 2, the band provides an external resistance in the opposite direction.
Advantages and disadvantages of the new technique
(Wallace, 2006, p. 269)
In the chart above, several variations have been covered, including: red band resistance, blue band resistance, body weight only resistance, body weight +traditional weight, body weight + red band resistance and body weight + blue band resistance.
|Band Length (cm)
(Wallace, 2006, p. 269).
The body weight was assumed to be 150 lb and the weighted pull-up to be 165 lb (body weight + 15 lb weight). The body weight + resistance band was the body weight plus the resistance of the band at each stretch point. The graph shows the linear resistance of the band and the greater stimulus as a result of the higher resistance at the end range of movement.
While the body weight and traditional remain constant, the banded pull-ups +body weight show a significant increase in resistance at the end range of the movement. As a result, athletes must adapt to generate higher forward for increased upward momentum in the concentric phase of the pull-up. If the athlete is not efficient with the kipping technique, there should be an increase in time, effort, failure or a combination of the variables.
This technique may initially affect the accuracy for the athlete. They may shift from the banded movement to un-banded pull-ups and pull too high on the bar. As CrossFit focuses on efficiency (and therefore submaximal output at times), an athlete completing high pull-ups or even chest-to-bar pull-ups when only the chin needs to rise above the bar is inefficient and will have a negative affect over the course of a WOD or competition. Should this occur, it is assumed that the effect will be minimal and the athlete will be able to adjust.
As greater force is needed to overcome inertia and generate upward momentum, this is an advanced exercise and, as described, not applicable for novice athletes. These athletes should be proficient in strict pull-ups, weighted strict pull-ups and kipping pull-ups.
There is a slight change in the position of the legs to accommodate for the band during this exercise and it is something the coach and athlete should be aware
Practical interventions/Coaching strategies/drills/activities that facilitate development of the new technique
- Progressive use of bands
- Band #0 – orange – 15 lb
- Band #1 – red -30 lb
- Band #2 – blue – 50 lb
- Band #3 – green – 65 lb
Note: To maintain the stimulus of the movement and not significantly slow the athlete, no bands heavier than green should be used.
- Have athletes practice 1 set banded, 1 set un-banded
- Strict Banded Pull-ups
- Practice chin over bar pauses with resistance to weight
- Kipping Pull-ups with a negative (Wescott, 2001)
- Hip Pop Drills* and/or barbell hip thrusters
- Allow athletes to make slight modifications to position of the band on the body if desired as long as it does not change the stimulus.
- Athletes should have a buy-in for the new technique. It is important that they understand the reason behind the new movement. Improvements in their performance can be taken quantitatively and qualitatively. For a quantitative measurement, athletes can compare maximum unbroken kipping pull-ups and time in the first and fifth practice. Qualitative measurement can be taken as the athletes recording how the movement and drills feel in their training log.
Cronin, J., Mcnair, P., & Marshall, R. (2003). The effects of bungy weight training on muscle function and functional performance. Journal of Sports Sciences,21(1), 59-71.
Dinuzio, C., Van Scoy, J., Porter, N., Cordice, D., & McCulloch, R. (2017). Kinetic and Muscle Activation Differences Between a Standard Pull-up and a Dynamic CrossFit ¨Kipping¨ Pull-up [Abstract]. International Journal of Exercise Science,8(5), 61st ser.
Ghigiarelli, J. J., Nagle, E. F., Gross, F. L., Robertson, R. J., Irrgang, J. J., & Myslinski, T. (2009). The Effects of a 7-Week Heavy Elastic Band and Weight Chain Program on Upper-Body Strength and Upper-Body Power in a Sample of Division 1-AA Football Players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research,23(3), 756-764.
Israetel, M. A., Mcbride, J. M., Nuzzo, J. L., Skinner, J. W., & Dayne, A. M. (2010). Kinetic and Kinematic Differences Between Squats Performed With and Without Elastic Bands. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research,24(1), 190-194.
Jakubiak, N., & Saunders, D. H. (2008). The Feasibility and Efficacy of Elastic Resistance Training for Improving the Velocity of the Olympic Taekwondo Turning Kick. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research,22(4), 1194-1197.
Paditsaeree, K., Intiraporn, C., & Lawsirirat, C. (2016). Comparison Between the Effects of Combining Elastic and Free-Weight Resistance and Free-Weight Resistance on Force and Power Production. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research,30(10), 2713-2722.
Schwanbeck, S., Chilibeck, P. D., & Binsted, G. (2009). A Comparison of Free Weight Squat to Smith Machine Squat Using Electromyography. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research,23(9), 2588-2591.
Shoepe, T., Ramirez, D., Rovetti, R., Kohler, D., & Almstedt, H. (2011). The Effects of 24 weeks of Resistance Training with Simultaneous Elastic and Free Weight Loading on Muscular Performance of Novice Lifters. Journal of Human Kinetics,29(-1).
Wallace, B. J., Winchester, J. B., & Mcguigan, M. R. (2006). Effects Of Elastic Bands On Force And Power Characteristics During The Back Squat Exercise. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research,20(2), 268-272.
Westcott, W. L., Winett, R. A., Anderson, E. S., Wojcik, J.R., Loud, L. R., Cleggett, E. & Glover, S. (2001). Effects of Regular and Slow Speed Resistance Training on Muscular Strength. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 41 (2), 154-158.