This week, I finally got kipping pull ups, after working for more than a year on developing the strength and the rhythm it takes to pull off a set of five. It was only a year ago that I got my first chin-over-bar, and it took me a year just to get a single one of those.
I think it was working with Maddie Curley, a gymnastics coach, that got me here. In five sessions, she helped me perfect the individual elements of this movement—the mount, the kip, the pull, the push, the swing, and the reset at the bottom—and then to put them back together into one continuous action. She made me a little video of herself standing with one foot on the floor, going through the motions slowly with her arms and one leg, and told me to watch it until I’d memorized the motions. Until she demonstrated it, I had never noticed the push and, unless you already know how to do them, you might not have seen it either.
The push happens at the top, after your chin has cleared the bar, and you push away from it. I had been dropping from the top, and by doing so, lost all the momentum I had gained getting there. By pushing away, you can channel the power into the subsequent swing, kip, and pull.
The next day at the gym, I stood in the middle of the room and, looking not unlike a Martha Graham wannabe, I mimicked Maddie’s video. About 20 times. Then I walked over to the bar, jumped up, and there they were! I did 50 in all that day, in sets of five.
I know that pull ups done for time will be in the Open competition at some point, and you can see by the look on my face at the end of the video that I am very happy to have them in my quiver now.