Since the invention of the wheel, many people have sought to improve upon it, creating such vehicles as the bicycle, automobile, and so on. Such efforts have been made by the CrossFit community to improve on the pull up. However, are all pull ups created equal, and if not, what are the cost/benefits of each type? Today we’ll look at the differences between the strict, kipping, and butterfly.  Greg Everett of Catalyst Athletics posted an article about his thoughts on the three types and I have to agree on his main points.

First let’s review the three mainstream types of pull ups:

1. Strict/Deadhang: Exactly as it sounds, it starts from a full dead hang and is finished when the athlete pulls his chin over the bar (no swing, no kip).  Overall benefit is strength.

2. Kipping Pull Up: Utilizes momentum generated by a controlled “swing,” this movement is more dynamic but still under control as the athlete keeps his shoulders active and maintains tension in his body when pushing away from the bar. Though traditionally looked at as a “cheating” dead hang, we here at Intrepid see them as two different movements with two different goals and purposes. Still this is a movement that requires shoulder girdle strength which is why we have enforce the strict pull up before kipping rule.

3. Butterfly Kip: Spealler made his signature move more sought after than a muscle up (previous CrossFit holy grail)  in his explosive 100 pull up video. However, as Everett says in his article,

[The butterfly kip's] sole purpose is to serve as a competitive pull-up style (whether or not this is recognized or admitted), and this alone is enough to dissuade me from ever using it, teaching it or endorsing it. The idea of modifying an exercise to reduce effort and increase speed for the sake of beating a clock or another exerciser doesn’t make much sense to me. Exercises should have purpose and rationale; for example, a pull-up is a great way to develop upper body pulling strength, scapular stability and even muscular and cardiorespiratory endurance if performed in higher volumes. The butterfly kip minimizes the demands on the very things that the exercise should be used to develop. Additionally, it brings an element of stress to the shoulders and elbows of which the potential for injury is far greater than a more traditional kipping movement. Were I a CrossFit Gamer or some other type of competitive exerciser, I would use the butterfly kip. But again, that very notion tells me it’s not a good choice for training, other than periodic practice for impending competition…

He goes into more detail about the kip and butterfly, so feel free to check out the rest of the article. CrossFit is defined as a program based on constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity. I believe the strict and kipping pull ups are functional and have their roles to play (albeit different ones) but the butterfly kip serves only to beat the clock. As he says above, that should relegate it to pre-competition ramp up only.

A very happy belated birthday to Sean N. who will be celebrating his big day this Friday Jan 7th at Tomkins Square at 7pm. We’ll be heading over post-wod on Friday!

WOD 01.04.11

Power Snatch 5×3

Double Unders
Sit Ups

12 Responses to “Pull Ups: Butterfly, Kip, and Strict”

January 4, 2011 at 7:22 AM

Happy Birthday Sean!! I’m heading to Target this afternoon, want to join me? :)

January 4, 2011 at 7:25 AM

Happy Belated Birthday Sean!! I hope you had a great day.

January 4, 2011 at 7:39 AM

Aren’t we always racing a clock?

January 4, 2011 at 8:27 AM

happy belated bday, sean!!! if you’re for real gonna be at t2 friday night then i’m in. there’s no better place to celebrate birthdays and / or find some trouble to get into. :)

i can’t really do more than one strict pull-up without wishing i was dead, but i kind of love kipping pull-ups. they make me feel like the world’s strongest chick. :)

January 4, 2011 at 8:46 AM

Busted without my thumbs wrapped around…

Happy Birthday Sean!

January 4, 2011 at 8:53 AM

Happy belated birthday Sean!!!

Anna is using my favorite strict pull up approach, climbing the invisible ladder.

So are butterfly kipping pull ups something you think are worth learning? I was under the impression the required a little more strength than a regular kip, but were more efficient.

Annie again? My abs haven’t recovered from her last week…this could be interesting.

January 4, 2011 at 3:21 PM

Happy Belated Birthday Sean!!!

January 4, 2011 at 3:25 PM

Happy Birthday Sean!

Next time we’re in the gym can someone show me what a butterfly kip looks like? Just so I can visualize another type of pullup that I can’t do unassisted :) Also, my back muscle envy has now spread to Holley. You look killer in that photo!

Yesterday’s WOD was also a killer, but I really liked it.

Matt Pesenti
January 4, 2011 at 3:32 PM

Happy New Year Intrepids! I just did my first as rx’d Annie
in 12:13 ;) Hope everyone is doing well!

January 4, 2011 at 3:40 PM

Niiiice Matt! Well done! Hope all’s going well up north!

January 4, 2011 at 4:26 PM

Happy Birthday Sean!!

Matt Pesenti
January 4, 2011 at 11:04 PM

Thanks Ruth! Unfortunately got laid off from my job up North…. but fortunately now I’m down South – learning to surf in Sayulita Mexico.