I'm trying to master a kipping pull-up as a means of getting my kipping muscle up. I've probably watched 20 online tutorials, most of them from CrossFitters, since they're the ones who post the most videos online. I'm having difficulty discerning what exactly the hips are doing and where the power is generated.

Swing I understand. Hollow position at the back of the swing, arched at the front of the swing.

Then: From the arched position, close hips powerfully as you swing back. Some videos (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7q0UhxPdLY for example) suggest that this is what generates the power. Other videos suggest that closing your hips is just a means to set you up for the pop OPEN, which is where the power comes from (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZJMblG5apg).

So does the power come from the closing of the hips or re-opening the hips? Which part of the movement is the priming, and which part should I make as explosive as possible? Are these two different techniques that are both fall under "kipping pull-ups"? Or is there really a hip opening happening after the closing that's concealed in the videos that don't talk about it?

(Please don't answer that everything should be as explosive as possible - Imagine how jerky and chaotic it would be if your were transitioning from arch to hollow to arch as explosively as possible. You'd be flopping around like a fish instead of actually swinging.)

1 Answer 1


I am a former gymnast and a current crossfitter. I think of the kip a little bit differently than your other sources:

  • The arch where the stomach and the shoulders push forward create tension, the same way you would bend your knees and load your leg muscles to jump. This turns your body into a bow and gives you some extra pop as you pull up.

  • Raising the legs and hips raises your center of gravity up towards the bar. The higher you raise your legs, the less you have to pull your body up. The gymnastics kip to support (muscle up without the muscle) involves raising your hips all of the way to the bar and then rotating the body around the new center of gravity which is at the bar. It is effortless and requires very little upper body strength to accomplish (little girls can do it) and can be done with almost straight arms. So, raise your legs and rotate the body to the bar. For most people, getting that rotation involves kicking the legs down and opening the hips, but it's not strictly necessary for the rotation.

  • The hollow body position at the back of the swing is just preparation for a little stronger arch and practice for the position you will be in on the way up as you start your pull. It's really unnecessary for the movement, but it's good practice.

  • I don't think any power in this movement comes from your hips. It's pull and rotation. Timing is important, but doing anything explosive with anything but your upper body is wasted energy. I would focus on being smooth rather than explosive. If you can do a strict pull-up, the kip raises your center of gravity and gives you momentum, allowing you to pull higher with less effort.

  • When you actually get to the muscle-up, thinking about your hips being the focus of the movement can be helpful since that is what you actually need to get up to the bar. Also, it will help to have a slight swing, where you start your kip as you swing forward and complete the muscle up as you swing backwards, so you don't run into the bar (not a problem with the ring muscle up). A big swing, or a powerful swing is a waste of energy and probably makes things more complex without reducing effort.

If I were a coach (I'm not), I would teach the kipping pull up with no swing. I would raise your legs and tell you to rotate around your hips so you could get the feel and timing right. I think the focus on the swing and explosiveness is misplaced.

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