In CrossFit, Gymnastics/Tumbling, HD Videos

November 20, 2013

Video Article

The topic is the pull-up in the third episode of Offline, an unscripted presentation of guests debating controversial subjects in the CrossFit world. In this installment, discussion focuses on whether strict pull-ups should be required of athletes before kipping pull-ups are taught, an issue raised by Matt Crabtree in the Huffington Post article CrossFitters: Why I Haven’t Taught You to Kip.

Host Russell Berger welcomes guests Dave Durante, a member of USA Gymnastics’ 2008 Olympic team and a coach at CrossFit LIC; Carl Paoli, a coach at San Francisco CrossFit; Jacob Tsypkin of CrossFit Monterey; and Dan Pope, a physical therapist and author of FitnessPainFree.com.

Tsypkin starts off the discussion aggressively.

“Nobody’s ever substantiated this supposed risk behind the kipping pull-up. Nobody’s ever proven that. At all,” he says.

Although he does teach strict pull-ups first, it’s not because of injury concerns, Tsypkin notes. It’s because it’s easier to teach the kipping pull-up after somebody has mastered strict pull-ups, he says.

Next, the group moves on to the butterfly kipping pull-up, and a lively debate erupts between Durante and Paoli over whether the butterfly technique is part of a “natural progression” of movement.

“It’s something that we’ve never done in gymnastics before,” Durante says. “It’s a dangerous position in my eyes.”

Paoli responds by asking about how the supinated-grip giant swing on the high bar came about. He suggests the first person to try the movement would have been viewed as crazy, though the technique is now very much a part of gymnastics.

The final question posed by Berger is this: “Do you think that we should require athletes to do strict pull-ups before kipping, and why or why not?”

Post your views to comments.

Video by Russell Berger and Noor Greene.

15min 45sec

HD file size: 289 MB
SD mov file size: 108 MB

Please note: For smoother viewing of HD videos, please download the entire file to your hard drive before watching it (right-click and choose Save Link As...).

Additional reading: Kipping Pullups by Greg Glassman, published April 1, 2005.

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Comment

29 Comments on “Offline, Episode 3: Strict Pull-Ups Before Kipping Pull-Ups?”

1

Chris Sinagoga wrote …

Great discussion folks!

2

wrote …

Awesome discussion from some really well-qualified and respectful people. Much more of this please! Thanks.

3

wrote …

Hy there,

thank you for this discussion.
This is real simple move but in natural way all three moves were not dangerous!
We coach at the moment also first the kipping and then strict and... if the athlete it want then we will go in butterfly pull-up!
In my mind Carl go right way... Our athletes can do what they want, what make fun, also crazy things. Our job as a coach is to go this way with the athlete together and correct movements, set standards and try to see a better way for health live!!!

Hope to see more from this in next time.

See you...
[OST BOX]

4

wrote …

Jacob Tsypkin or anyone else,
Would you agree that fatigue comes before injury? (excluding car accidents, falls, and mishaps of such degree)
Would you agree that kipping pullups are more technique than strength?

Josh Bailey D.C.

5

replied to comment from Josh Bailey

Josh Bailey,

1. Sometimes, not always. Are you suggesting that fatigue is a necessary or sufficient condition for injury?

2. Is the snatch more technique than strength?

Jacob Tsypkin, Junior College Dropout

6

wrote …

Jacob,
Respectfully, I am suggesting that fatigue always comes before injury. Could you name a scenario when it doesn't?
Point being that if you don't have a base of strength around your shoulder (or any other articulation for that matter) you are more likely to fatigue faster in which case injury is more likely.

Josh Bailey D.C. or just Josh if you like.

7

replied to comment from Josh Bailey

Josh (no need for formalities, this is the internet.)

There certainly are scenarios where fatigue comes before injury. There are also scenarios where fatigue does not come before injury. For example, an athlete with poor upper back mobility could harm their shoulder snatching, throwing, doing jerks, etc while not in a fatigued state at all, simply by driving the scapula quickly into a position which it's limited range of motion would not allow.

Furthermore, you are suggesting that strength is the major factor in preventing fatigue. This is blatantly untrue. World class marathoners are profoundly weak, yet take the stress of miles upon miles on their joints. Conditioning (both systemic and local) to particular stressors is not dependent solely or even primarily on strength (systemic or local.)

I confidently contend that if you could take someone with good shoulder health, teach them to kip correctly from day one and control the volume of their training intelligently, and never have them do a strict pullup, their shoulders would be perfectly fine (you would, of course, limit the development of their overall fitness by ignoring the strict pullup, which is a valuable movement for it's own sake.)

8

wrote …

Jacob,
It is the internet and I do commend you and the other panelists for sacking up and defending your point of view live like that. This is definitely a different conversation.
Are you suggesting that poor upper back mobility happens without an underlying cause first? I fall back on fatigue here as well. Something happened in which that person could not activate the muscles or nerves controlling those muscles for a prolonged period of time before they even had a mobility problem. Then, snatching was not the cause of their injury it was the result of snatching in a fatigued state.
Using world class marathoners as an example here doesn't really prove your point when we are all aware of the injury rates of these athletes and claims of what happens when you introduce a strength program such as CrossFit Endurance to these athletes.
I would like to know however, how you define "good shoulder health?"

9

replied to comment from Josh Bailey

Josh,

First off: "Using world class marathoners as an example here doesn't really prove your point when we are all aware of the injury rates of these athletes and claims of what happens when you introduce a strength program such as CrossFit Endurance to these athletes."

CrossFit Endurance and programs like it have not produced any world class marathoners. I recommend you look into the training of Kenyan runners, who THOROUGHLY dominate the sport - there is a great synopsis here http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/training/why-the-us-sucks-at-olympic-lifting-part-2.html and here http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/training/why-the-us-sucks-at-olympic-lifting-part-3.html

Additionally, all competitive sports have high injury rates.

Secondly: you are essentially creating a heretofore unused definition of fatigue. I can also make up definitions, that doesn't make my arguments valid.

More importantly, neither of your suggestions change the fact that strength is not the defining factor in limiting fatigue.

A healthy shoulder is one which can move through all normal ranges of motion without impediment and can be loaded within normal ranges of motion without joint pain.

10

wrote …

Jacob,

While an interesting article, the question is not "are we better at kipping pullups than Kenyans?", rather it's "does introducing strength into a running protocol (or any other) reduce injury, such as with CrossFit Endurance?" or "does having a base of strength before attempting kipping pullups reduce likelihood of injury?" It is irrelevant whether or not they have produced champions. Have they produced athletes with less injury?
On the other note, the definition I am using comes from Hans Selye and his general adaptation syndrome. See here: http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/general+adaptation+syndrome
Alarm, resistance, Exhaustion, Death. Here it is alarm, resistance in the form of hypomobile thoracics, fatigue, snatch injury. Same thing.
Strength is the defining factor in responding to a stressor. Does a kipping pullup cause more stress on the shoulder than a strict pullup? No evidence for that assumption but, is it really necessary? It seems pretty anatomically obvious that a swinging dynamic motion will cause more stress on the joint than a controlled more static one.
Good use of "heretofore" though.

11

wrote …

Josh,

You imply that the only factor in lower injury rates on CFE type programs (for the record, I have not seen any actual data to support this claim) is the program itself. CFE is not a "strength" program - it is a lower volume program based around interval work and CrossFit type conditioning. To ignore the lower volume as a contributor to a potentially lower injury rate is patently ridiculous, as is ignoring the audience; of course recreational athletes are less likely to suffer injuries as a result of their sport. Saying that performance is irrelevant renders the entire discussion null and void. Yes, if your primary concern is injury prevention, you shouldn't do kipping pullups, or strict pullups, or heavy squats (which are tough on the knees over long periods of time even with perfect mechanics.) In fact, you should stick to low volume bouts of swimming, running on a treadmill, and machine strength exercises, combined with a generally active lifestyle and avoiding sitting too much. It is likely (not contraindicated in the literature) that a lifelong program such as this is enough to keep one relatively healthy, but it will certainly not produce optimal or even near-optimal fitness.

I am very familiar with Selye's model. Familiar enough, in fact, to know that it is outdated, has been superseded by the more sophisticated two factor model, and that both of those are based on the very broken machine metaphor in biology, which good biologists outside of Big Data are quickly ridding themselves of. "Squat Every Day" by Matt Perryman is a Kindle e-book which is probably the easiest reading on this subject.

Finally, strength is the ability to produce maximal force; I challenge you to present me with any data indicating that the athletes/individuals with the highest maximal force production are also those who are least prone to injury. Additionally, I challenge you to present me with data indicating that "strength is the defining factor in responding to a stressor."

Specific conditioning and adaptation is far more relevant. If you take two identical and healthy individuals, train one with only strict pullups and the other with only kipping pullups, effectively titrating volume for both as they progress, the athlete who has trained kipping pullups will be able to more safely handle them than the athlete who has not, despite any potential differnce in maximal force production which the individual who trained strict pullups has.

12

"I recommend you look into the training of Kenyan runners, who THOROUGHLY dominate the sport"

I don't think you can always look at the exercise programs of the people on top of their sport. Often times, the people at that high level are so gifted that they get to where they are at in spite of a program.

Do you really think LeBron the most advanced workout routine?

But I like your points on the discussion. Good shit.

13

replied to comment from Chris Sinagoga

Chris, I completely agree. My point was simply to illustrate that it differs DEEPLY from CFE and similar training, not just superficially. And, it differs from the time these athletes START running, not as they approach elite levels.

Also, I'm looking for statistics on injury rates for Kenyan runners, and having trouble finding them. However, I think it's a fairly safe bet than when a country of 43.18 million with very little resources so completely dominates a sport, and when in fact most of those runners come from a tribe of about 500,000 people, the injury rate is not (cannot be) very high.

14

replied to comment from Jacob Tsypkin

I have found at least one study (http://www.jssm.org/vol7/n4/12/v7n4-12pdf.pdf) which seems to suggest that Kenyan runners may have lower maximal isometric leg strength than other runners.

15

wrote …

I began crossfit @ 275#. Strict pull ups were far off of my map, they were on the other side of the globe in fact. I used the thickest band possible, and eventually through fatigue, my body began to learn the most efficient way to do banded pull ups--Kipping banded pull ups. And as I lost weight, I could string together 3 or four kipping-unassisted pull ups. @ 250# I was able to do around 5 or six kipping pull ups and any wod with pull ups would trash my lats and pulling muscles. It wasn't until I weighed about 235# and could do 15-ish kipping pullups before I could even do a single strict pull up. Doing kipping pull ups contributed to my being able to do workouts at the intended intensity, resulting in improving my body composition until I could actually perform strict pull ups.

I'm willing to guarantee that anyone who says that you need to be able to do some prescribed amount of strict pull ups before kipping has never experienced being overweight and longing to achieve a level of performance they once thought impossible.

BTW, I now weigh 220 and have a 3:13 Fran, so I'm glad I started kipping when I did rather than trying to strictly get my fat chin over the bar 5 times at 275#.

16

wrote …

Jacob,

"You imply that the only factor in lower injury rates on CFE type programs (for the record, I have not seen any actual data to support this claim) is the program itself."

No, actually, I imply that introducing more strength training with these athletes is the difference. However, I do agree that ignoring the lower volume is significant.

"Yes, if your primary concern is injury prevention... but it will certainly not produce optimal or even near-optimal fitness."

This, while fucking hilarious, was not exactly my point either. My point being that the longevity of the athlete is the most important factor. If the person has no shoulder stabilizing strength (not just full pain free range of motion)or even what could be considered "normal" stabilizing strength and you stress their shoulder dynamically, as such with a kipping pull up, you are increasing the likelihood of injury there (including repetitive overuse). A strict pullup offers much more in the way of training stabilization of the shoulder joint and a stable joint is less likely to injure. Do I have evidence to support my statement? Well, at this point, I do not believe it will further our conversation. You have presented your side of the argument well and I just disagree. Hopefully there will be more research that could shed more light on this subject in the future. Pretty sure that is Dans field.

17

wrote …

this guy man^

>gets thoroughly man-handled in the argument
>cites his DC (LOL)
>everyone in the thread disagrees with him, both empirically and practically
>"Do I have evidence to support my statement? Well, at this point, I do not believe it will further our conversation"

this is the internet version of throwing in the towel, well done

18

wrote …

This guy man^

"manhandled"...doubtful.

Yes, I cited my name, which includes DC. Not sure why that is funny.

"Everyone in this thread"? Really? all 3 people that have responded after this discussion began. Come on bro.

The only thing you are right about is that I did throw in the towel.

19

wrote …

The money quote: "My job in the gym is to allow you to do what you want to do." Even squats are dangerous if you do them badly with too great a load, but done with skill they rehabilitate.

20

Just to add to your point about the Kenyan runners, living conditions play a major role as well. I went to Dr. Romanov's cert in Akron and I remember him saying that running for many Kenyans is how they make their money. If they don't run a good race, they don't eat. So obviously, that plays a huge role in the focus and intensity in training.

In regards to this argument, I've been a big supported of Carl Paoli for awhile and his view makes a lot of sense. When these new movements come up, they just become a great way to test your body's positions. Your job is to set standards for these movements so they become safe (and therefore more efficient). He didn't get into the specifics in this video (I'm assuming there was a lot said behind the scenes and cut out), but he has tons of videos for reference about the Hook-grip, pull-up cues, and butterfly progressions.

21

Just to add to your point about the Kenyan runners, living conditions play a major role as well. I went to Dr. Romanov's cert in Akron and I remember him saying that running for many Kenyans is how they make their money. If they don't run a good race, they don't eat. So obviously, that plays a huge role in the focus and intensity in training.

In regards to this argument, I've been a big supported of Carl Paoli for awhile and his view makes a lot of sense. When these new movements come up, they just become a great way to test your body's positions. Your job is to set standards for these movements so they become safe (and therefore more efficient). He didn't get into the specifics in this video (I'm assuming there was a lot said behind the scenes and cut out), but he has tons of videos for reference about the Hook-grip, pull-up cues, and butterfly progressions.

22

wrote …

Devin,
Congrats on your weight loss, improved health, and fitness. Unfortunately, your anecdotal story doesn't prove anything other than you weren't strong enough to lift yourself over the bar when you weighed more. It doesn't say which coaching strategy is better. (What you did worked, but whether or not CrossFit works is not what's up for debate - it's obvious to all of us. The question relates to the best way to do CrossFit style training with respect to the various pullups.

Josh and Jacob,

your arguments are circular and irrelevant. Technique and strength are BOTH prerequisites for pullups. And snatches - making that "point" moot. Just like demanding to be shown the "data" without having any data to back up anything is stupid. Why don't you show us the data for what defines an "intelligent" training volume? Or good shoulder health? OR ANYTHING YOU CONFIDENTLY CONTEND.

What does it mean that marathon runners are profoundly weak? They only have to be strong enough to run not strong like Louie Simmons. Many CrossFitters perpetuate ridiculous claims about distance runners. Where are the many marathoner's that cannot jump onto a 12 inch box (the most commonly claimed 'stat' about them)?? Do they shuffle their feet for 26 miles? Sure, they won't win the CF Games but they aren't trying to do that.


Let's go back to talking about the best way to introduce pull ups. If you don't have "data" (it seems no one does), start off the sentence with "In my gym, we find it most effective to do....." and share how you do it, and then tell us why.

23

replied to comment from Jacob Tsypkin

I dont have any data to back me but i feel as though its common sense that if you dont have the strength and neuromuscular efficiency to do a movement static you shouldn't start by making the movement more dynamic. teaching a kipping pullup before teaching a strict pullup would be like teaching someone how to do clapping pushups before they learn a regular pushup.It greatly increases someones likeliness of getting injured. kipping pullups without a prerequisite level of strength and nme leads to disaster. if you cannot properly maintain tension through the movement in your shoulders and back to push and pull you effectively end up bottoming out at the deadhang position and yanking yourself back up over the bar. The muscles in your shoulders and back which would normally be absorbing and controlling the force of the movement arent being used properly and you end up putting a ton of stress on joints, ligaments and tendons that would otherwise be protected. Similar to getting to the bottom of a back squat, letting all the tension in your glutes go and bouncing out of the bottom. Yea the momentum may help you stand up but when you release tension in your glutes the force transfers to another part of your body not as capable of absorbing that force. Our bodies are designed to move in certain ways and those movements must be controlled.

24

wrote …

I completely agree that kipping needs to be part of a progression that starts with strict pull-ups. I've always been taught that one needs to maintain an active shoulder at the bottom of the pull-up movement. If you don't have the strength to do them strictly, there is absolutely no way that you can prevent hitting a hard "thud" at the bottom of a kip. Therefore there is no way you should be kipping before strict pull-ups!

Additionally, kipping cheats you of the strength benefits of pull-ups. You can increase dramatically the number of kips you can do purely based on improving the power of your kip. All while not improving your strict pull-up numbers. Anecdotally, once I learned the kip I went from being able to do none to doing 15-20 unbroken. In that same time, my strict pull-up numbers still hovered around 5 reps.

IMO kipping should be reserved for "as fast as possible" WODs. It's only real benefit being that is faster and less fatiguing for transition to another movement.

25

wrote …

"Junior College Dropout" may be one of the funnier things I've read today.

I have nothing meaningful to add just thought you should know I appreciated that humor Jacob.

26

wrote …

Matt Solomon said it best above.

If you own a gym and this topic is disturbing you, perhaps you should conduct an experiment using the two techniques, document your findings and get them published. I'm sure the CrossFit Journal or MILO or any strength journal would appreciate and publish the data, and if you do it well enough you could get it published in a peer reviewed journal.

I appreciate the passionate debate, but this isn't philosophy, we actually could back this up with something tangible.

Sincerely,
Jake

27

"It's only real benefit being that is faster and less fatiguing for transition to another movement."

Do kipping pull-ups (butterfly or gymnastic) challenge coordination?

It always helps to have strength AND skill. Not one or the other. Both. You need a solid strength foundation and a skill to carry that strength. If you are lacking strength, then your skill will always be compromised. If you are lacking skill, then you are limited by how far your strength can carry you.

28

replied to comment from Chris Sinagoga

couldn't have said it better myself

29

wrote …

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