Pull-ups / pull-ups

In CrossFit we do a variety of exercises from different disciplines such as weightlifting, sports gymnastics, some more typical of the fitness world. But in particular, the pull-ups give a lot to talk about, especially in the "non-crossfitters" sector.

In this post we are going to analyze the types of pull-ups used in CrossFit and the techniques to master them.

What is a pull up?

The dominated movement is that movement in which the individual starts hanging by his hands on a fixed barin a situation of pure suspension and performs a chin pull until the chin is over the barthanks to the levers generated in the elbow flexors and dorsal musculature.

As in all other gymnastic exercises, the resistance is generated by the body's own weight.

Type of pull-ups

With the use of our own body weight as resistance is a basic gymnastic exercise in CrossFit that has been developed with different techniques. All of them valid and with a different objective. 

crossfit pull-ups


The most common in the traditional gym. In CrossFit, strict pull-ups are performed as part of the strength work or if specified in the WOD.

These dominated do not use any type of impulse and are therefore carried out with the exclusive use of force.

How to get your first strict pull-up?

Many times we resort to the rubber to assist a strict pull-up, but it is the best place to start if you want a good progression.

It is best that you spend time doing these exercises described in order of difficulty. Do one after the other. End the training when you are not able to advance to the next exercise. Gradually, you will advance in difficulty.

  • Hanging from the bar: 3 series of 8 seconds
  • With the chin above the bar: 3 series of 10 seconds
  • Negative dominoes: 3 sets of 8 repetitions (3 seconds down)
  • Ring rowing: 3 series x 8 repetitions (with maximum horizontality)
  • Dominated with minimum assistance (the thinner rubber band): 3 sets of 6 repetitions
  • Chin ups (supine grip pull-ups) x 3 times

In general, girls' upper body is usually weaker than boys'.. But with training everything gets better. (Don't get frustrated (I got my first pull-up when I had been doing CrossFit for a year).

Kipping, kipping pull up

With these pull-ups we take advantage of the kipping to generate an inertial force that, together with the muscular traction of the upper body, helps to perform the movement.

How is the kipping pull up performed?

Hanging from the bar with the hands outside the line of the shoulders, start a swing with the shoulders to move to the hollow and arch hollow position. From here, the feet are lifted while keeping the arms extended and then a pull with the arms is done to raise the chin above the bar.

Although many consider this technique a way of cheating on strict pull-ups, it is a very useful skill in gymnastics: rings, parallel bars, high bar and floor.

Butterfly pull up

The butterfly version is even faster and more efficient than the previous one.

A continuous circular motion is performed starting from the shoulders and passing through the hollow and arch position. When the body is in form the arms are brought towards the bar to lift the chin over the bar. Maintaining the movement, the body moves into a hollow to descend and continue with the next repetition.

With this method there is a greater utilization of the kinetic energy generated, which is not cut off at any time as is the case with kipping. 

butterfly crossfit

Are butterfly pull-ups harmful

CrossFit pull-ups with kipping or butterfly are just as harmful as any other movementIt all depends on the performance of the athlete, the volume of training, the physical condition of the person.

What you do have to take into account is the extra friction that is produced in the hands with this type of pull-ups. We recommend the use of callipers to protect hands and improve grip.

Objective of the pull-ups

The strict dominoes have a clear objective, to win tractive force in the upper body.

The muscles involved in this exercise are the mainly dorsalis, trapezius, rhomboids, pectoralis, deltoids and biceps.

Criticism of kipping pull-ups

In this video here you can see all kinds of comments, many leave much to be desired in the way they launch the message of criticism. As a summary they usually agree that this type of pull-ups are poorly done, you do not gain strength, they are harmful and even ridicule their execution.

It also happens that these criticisms come from people who do not practice CrossFit. Mostly bodybuilders and to a lesser extent people who do calisthenics.

Bodybuilders train for aesthetic purposesThey segment their work by muscles that they train in isolation. If they simply want to think about this type of pull-ups for the same purpose they do them, it is difficult for them to understand why they do them, simply because they are not the way they do them.

But everything has a reason and it is about opening the mind to understand it, obviously, who is locked in his truth will never be able to understand anything beyond what he does himself. without being able to learn anything from others.

Climber's Dominadas

Let's take a climber for example. For this sport you need power, explosiveness, strength... These are the keys to launch yourself from one hold to another, otherwise you won't get to many holds.

If you go to a climbing wall, the pull-ups that are done to gain these key elements necessary for climbing, you will see that the pull-ups do not use kipping but they are not strict either. 

They do like a kind of bounce without in the descent and without full extension of the elbows. In such a case, I haven't seen much criticism of this type of pull-up.

Perhaps bodybuilders are not very concerned about what climbers do and simply don't take them into account. And the key is to understand that they have different purpose of work, hence the execution is different.

Clean and Jerk weightlifting

Another example, although not specifically for pull-ups. Olympic weightlifters perform a two-cycle deadlift, clean + jerk.

They do this because it is the most efficient way to lift the maximum number of kilos overhead.

Following the "pure" thinking of bodybuilding sybarites, this movement would also be the focus of their ire.

And following this reasoning, you should expect from an Olympic lifter that the maximum amount of weight he can lift overhead should be performed with a shoulder press, the strict form for you to "really work shoulder strength".

This type of criticism I have never heard either.

If you want to know more about calleras visit my article on gloves and callipers

In CrossFit, strict pull-ups are also performed.

crossfit pull-ups

Understanding that each style of pull-up has a goal, at CrossFit we do strict and non-strict pull-ups depending on the part of the workout.

  • Strict pull-ups. When we are working on the force. This part even includes training with ballast to increase the intensity.
  • Kipping or butterfly pull-ups. When the objective is the workload. Of course, the stimulus is different, but the work required should not be underestimated. By not working in such an analytical way, the muscular effort is reduced, delaying the moment of fatigue and favoring the ability to perform more repetitions, at the same time that it becomes a more metabolic work.