The Kipping Pull-Up
Most non-CrossFitters would think a workout with 45 reps of pull-ups to be excessive and possibly long- you know, like Fran (excessive maybe,but definitely not long). Most of you would not have imagined doing pull-ups at such lightning speeds before walking into the box, but now, 50 pull-ups is probably ‘not a big deal’.
Many fitness enthusiasts say that kipping pull-ups are cheating. I suppose that depends on what your aim is- getting above the bar? making pull-ups accessible to a vast array of individuals? Kipping is superior in both respects. In fact, a kipping pull-up and a strict pull-up have identical amounts of mechanical work- moving some mass from point A to point B. Kipping just adds speed and more musculature to the equation, which in CrossFit’s opinion is exactly why we want to do them.
There is room for strict pull-ups in training, but kipping pull-ups are more ubiquitous in CrossFit because it follows the tenets better and includes more aspects of physical fitness. Strict pull ups focus on back and arm in a ‘slow’ movement. Kipping uses the same back and arm muscles but also recruits the entire torso to the hips. The kipping pull-up is a whole body, plyometric movement that requires coordination, strength, agility and flexibility to execute. CrossFit prizes whole-body, functional movements that are patterned core-to-extremity above all others. In addition, you can do many more kipping pull-ups than strict in the same amount of time; this means that you do the same amount of mechanical work in less time. That literally makes the kipping pull-up more powerful (and therefore better at creating intensity), and you know how CrossFit is crazy for power.
Also, kipping pull-ups are fun. Once you get your kipping pull-up it is hard to keep you off the bar! That is probably why CrossFitters, on average, have more pull-ups (even strict pull-ups) than your average Globo-gym occupant.