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Kipping Pull-ups for New Clients by Jeff Tucker - CrossFit Journal

In Gymnastics/Tumbling, Videos

June 25, 2009

Video Article

Better known simply as “Tucker”, Jeff Tucker operates GSX Athletics in Fort Worth, Texas. He was head coach and director of Texas Christian University's gymnastics/cheerleading programs from 2001 to 2006 and now conducts CrossFit’s gymnastics certifications.

On a visit to CrossFit Santa Cruz Central, Tucker revisited the topic of the kipping pull-up, this time focusing on new clients. Reinforcing body forms is central to open and closed swings. Clients should be in the same position every time. If they can’t achieve that, they should be placed on the ground and shown what a hollow is.

A big swing will help clients gain leverage to get over the bar and get a kipping pull up. Common faults include lack of forward momentum on the initial swing, mistakes in timing or lack of strength.

Scaling the kipping pull-up with rubber bands is a great way to safely develop newbies in the movement, especially if they lack strength or control. Tucker demonstrates by taking a few people through band-assisted swings.

9min 39sec

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21 Comments on “Kipping Pull-ups for New Clients”


wrote …

Awesome video Tucker! This is a great review of the Gymnastics Cert we had last weekend here at CrossFit PEI.

This video is just a taste of what you can learn at a Gymnastics Cert ... if you haven't gone to it yet you definitely should.


wrote …

That's a great video; kipping pull-ups are probably one of the hardest movements to learn and to teach. It really varies with the individual, I feel, so the more tools in my toolbox to help people figure it out the better! I'll be borrowing some of Tucker's ideas for sure.


wrote …

Excellent video Tucker, thank you!


wrote …

That's great, I don't have my kip down yet, but I know this will help! What kind of bands are those? Iron Woody?


wrote …

Great video. Very helpful. I am still working toward my first real kipping pull-up. Thanks for the instruction. One thing that bugs me however, and I am sure to get comments: Why can't we as the CrossFit community strive a little harder to clean up our language? I know that at my Level 1 cert.($1000.00 + expenses, by the way), the language was atrocious. Is that what I can expect at every level and facet of CrossFit instruction? I, for one think that we can do better...

Thanks for letting me vent just a bit...

Very sincerely,

Matthew Mullings


wrote …

Personally I liked hearing the trainers at my Level 1 talk like real people and not tiptoe around what is or isn't considered "appropriate" by others. But to each his own.


wrote …

When Jim was on the band there towards the end he had trouble getting his swing going. Tucker said he would let people repeat it and repeat it until they get it.

My question, how can I help my client better understand what they are trying to do if they are on the band are not getting the swing down? Is it something they will just have to workout by trying?


replied to comment from matthew mullings

Matt - vent away. I appreciate all your thoughts here. I know at times I have a bit of a mouth myself (product of the firehall and my inability to push for self control :), and in certain settings I came come accross like a well seasoned professor if I desire to do so. I cannot speak to the level ones, only my certs, and I will take your comments to heart.

Have a great day - and kip away!


replied to comment from Eric Lester

Eric - the point I was making is that sometimes if you let them work on it and not over cue it - they get it. Jim was off on pull, swing, cadance... then his brain and body figured it out, and it got better. Sometimes in what we do and teach - repeating it is the only device we have. The beauty of those bands is that we can scale it and prevent injury while they work toward the movements they seek.



wrote …

Jeff: Thanks so much for taking the time to truthfully answer my vent. It is encouraging to know that the top trainers and athletes will respond honestly to respectful concerns. I hope to be able to meet you at your own speciality cert one day.

Matthew Mullings


wrote …

Matt, my pleasure.


wrote …

jeff- your answer of "his brain and body figured it out" applies directly to my personal learning experience with both the kip AND the muscle up and with Coach's description of the last 4 aspects of fitness (coord, agility, accuracy and balance) as being "software issues." (in the Okinawa lectures)

I had all the "hardware" to do it(contractile capacity as definition of strength)... Yet I played with the movements for some weeks-and it didn't click, and then all of a sudden in the MIDDLE of a Nicole workout... I did 5 kipping pullups in a row. Once that motor control hit for the first time- it stuck forever. A very similar thing happened with muscle ups.

Using "productive application of force" as the definition of strength... at the precise moment my software was loaded- I "got stronger."

I had taken cues from watching videos, I could explain analytically what I thought I needed to do... but it was simply "hanging on a bar" and figuring it out experientially in my body rather than purely in my brain, that led to the fully learning each of these skills.

Great to balance those 2 videos together with personal experience.


Mark Griffith wrote …

I needed this.


wrote …

I look back with both thanks and satisfaction on this portion of the Gymnastics Cert. The kip has been my nemesis for nine months. I have been hampered by poor shoulder flexibility and have really been working on this weak point.

Jeff, I am extremely appreciative of your having taught us the gymnastics kip. My lack of sufficient hip drive (unlike Annie S.) and poor shoulder flexibility dictated my tendency to "horse" myself up to the bar - - and quickly wear out. Timing of my pull was also off.

Suddenly this all "clicked" last week - - everything came together and there was my kip! While the hip kip is a little easier because of my shoulders, I can do both now.


Katrina Burton wrote …

Great video!
This is THE BEST kipping pullup tutorial out there by far! Nothing else even comes close to the quality of information provided here.

Great work Tucker and crew.


wrote …

WOW! Thanks so very much Katrina! I appreciate it very much. Coming from a gymnastic coach and former gymnast that means a great deal.


Stephen - keep it up! I mean kip it up!!!!!!!


wrote …

Yet another great video and great to see the trainers responding so honestly and politely to posted comments. No hint of ego whatsoever, Coach Tucker - very refreshing!

Hey, maybe it's just me or the (admittedly) slightly dodgy audio on my computer, but i don't remember hearing any bad language during the video. I think maybe there was a "damn" towards the beginning but that was about it - certainly nothing unprofessional. I dunno, maybe just different standards...

Keep it coming!


wrote …

This is an AMAZING tutorial. I continue to struggle with pull ups and can get about 5 RX reps when fresh, but when I'm doing a WOD with pull ups, I can only get 1-3 then have to rest and reset. So, I have been scaling with my gym's machine that has a knee pad and counterweight (Gravitron, I think). To improve my performance, should I (1) continue grinding out onesies and twosies, or (2) scale with a band, or (3) scale with the Gravitron? If the answer is to scale, would love some detail on when I am supposed to get rid of the sacling. As I train, I presume that I should be doing RX pull ups sometimes as a benchmark. Is there a guideline re: when to modify/get rid of scaling, e.g. "if you can do 10 reps at 70# counterweight, go to 60#, then 50#, etc. and when you can do 10 RX then just do that from now on and rest during WODS as needed." Thanks!


wrote …

I was just wondering...does it matter if you are doing underhanded pullups? Does the kipping pull up work with any kind grip (i.e over handed (which many of you guys do), underhanded, one over hand and one underhand)? Does one work better than the other when it comes to kipping pull-ups?


wrote …

you can always turn your grip. i suggest thumbs around in order to be more secure on the bar... but short answer is if you go underhand it increases more chin up with a kipping swing and overhand is a pull up with kipping swing.


wrote …

Great tutorial, i have been doing Crossfit for about 5 months now in the UK but cant get the kipping pull up yet.

At 40 years old and 230 pounds i am finding a lot of the bodyweight stuff tough going and will often resort to single or double pull ups before having to reset which of course takes time and will usually see be the last to finish the workout.

Tomorrow and from here on in when i go to the box i am going to spend 5-10 minutes scaling the pull up as per this vid until i get it right.

Thanks again


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