Outside of cross fit kipping pull ups have drawn their fair share of controversy and haters. Much of this is no doubt due to the negativity that abounds regarding this increasingly popular mode of training. Many of our established physical culture gurus have also given this exercise short thrift.
Detractors cite the fact that Kipping pull ups are a cheating movement but that criticism alone is nonsensical because many pure exercises have their cheat versions which can be extremely useful to the trainee performing them.
Indeed many have argued that performing Kipping pull-ups is analogous to performing any compound exercise that results in more loads being shifted by utilising assistance of bigger stronger muscles, for example the push press.
I’m in favour of this movement being utilised to enable you to squeeze out a last few pull-ups at the end of a set but not in allowing trainees to perform it until they’ve mastered around five reps with the strict version. This in itself is no mean feat, as you would be hard pressed to find many in the gym(especially bigger guys) who could perform multiple strict pull-ups from dead hang to chin over the bar. Attempting to perform kipping pull-ups without the prerequisite strength could lead to the inability of the shoulders to dynamically stabilize during the most stressful part of kipping leaving you more open to internal impingement, anterior instability and tears.
Unfortunately the shoulder joint, being the most flexible in the body, has accordingly had to compromise stability, and kipping pull ups especially the butterfly type kip, is bound to induce excessive strain on the joint.
The high impact and extreme range of motion of high rep kipping pull ups could potentially destroy the shoulder. Athletes with good shoulder joint integrity are probably much less likely to suffer injury, however cross fit for example is taken up by many who have not developed basic strength in this area and thus possibly likely to be more injury prone.
I don’t know if this movement is likely to help increase strength in the pure pull up but believe that this is unlikely, however there is the definite possibility that over time this movement might damage the shoulders.
So what is the benefit to performing kipping pull ups or butterfly pull ups? If you are competitive in crossfit, then you probably need to practice kipping pull ups or the butterfly to stay there, but for both the competitive and for everyone else the majority of training in my opinion should be undertaken with strict form. Outside of helping to win crossfit competitions,or squeezing out a few extra reps at the end of a set of pull ups, I see little practical use for this movement.