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How To Do A Kip [Steps And Exercises To Help You Improve]

how to do a kip

Doing a kip is arduous, I’ll give it that, but it’s also not impossible. As a gymnast, there are minimal options you have when it comes to missing out on skills and a kip is not one of those options. 

If you are a gymnast of level four reading this, you would already know what I’m going on about. However, if you are a gymnast of any primary levels of gymnastics, I would hate to discourage you but I would advise you to focus on your routine skills instead. 

The reason for this is that there are countless factors that you need to be aware of to do a decent kip. If you do not have the body strength or balance required for it, you might end up feeling demotivated instead. 


A step by step guide to doing a kip on the bars 

1) Learn how to glide 

I know what you’re thinking, all I have to do is a simple glide? It sounds rather easy against all the hype there is surrounding this skill, but there are certain minor errors you need to steer clear of.

While doing a glide, you need to be mindful of the fact that you do not let your head move ahead of your body. It may seem like an extremely trivial concern, but trust me, the impact it has will have you thinking otherwise.

Another mistake that several beginners make is that they do not keep their body lined while gliding forward, instead they let their hips go by the end. 

Allowing this to happen, makes it difficult to regain control over your body and perform even the primary steps of a kip. 

The correct (and tested) way to go about this is to keep your legs together and only allow your feet/toes to move forward in the glide and eventually towards the bars.

It might take you quite a while to truly perfect this step, but unfortunately, there are seldom any shortcuts in gymnastics. It might get nerve-wracking for you at some point (as it did for me) but you have to remember to keep going no matter what!

2) Pike upwards

Once you are through with correctly learning how to glide for a kip, you can move on to the next step.

Before we start, it is necessary to know that the timing you have for this step should be near perfect.

Along with having the right skills and body strength, timing your kip correctly is what makes the most difference. A key point that helped me time my kip was to remember that, as soon as you feel your weight being lifted, pull your toes up to the bar. If you can get the precision as well as the energy you need for this skill, you'll already be half-way through! 

3) Learn to pull up 

This is the third and final step of doing a kip. This step mimics the manner of pulling up one's pants.

You can laugh, it’s alright, I did too when I heard my coach say that. But as hilarious as its sounds, it’s probably not going to be as fun once you get down to doing it!

A common mistake all of us have made while trying to pull up the bar is to relax over it. You are required to stay firm and lift your body above the bar using your hands to push against it from the top.

Primary body parts required to perform a kip

While trying to perform a kip, you may have noticed how the movement of your feet and legs depends solely on how you manage your arms and your stomach.

Therefore, the two primary body parts that make it possible for you to before this skill are your core muscles and your upper limbs.

The second step mentioned above can only be perfectly exhibited if you have strong core muscles.

Otherwise, you might automatically end up losing the grip you have over your body as well as the kip.

Similarly, particularly in the third mentioned step, the weight of your entire body is upon your shoulders and your arms. A gymnast who does not have arm flexibility or the buildup that is demanded by a kip might end up falling over or relaxing over the bar. 

Exercises to do to improve/learn doing a kip

As a gymnast, we are taught in all walks of our life that flexibility is the core prerequisite of all of gymnastics. Correspondingly, flexibility comes from warming up and exercising. Having said that, the exercises associated with any skill you are learning should be your best friend. 

Not too different in the case of a kip. If you intend to practice doing a kip at home, there is a lengthy list of exercises you may try. 

1) Stretching with a bar

In this exercise, you’re going to need to raise your hands to hold a bar. Make sure that your fingers are pointing away from you. You are going to need to stretch out while keeping your toes rooted into the ground and core muscles pushing forward, this will give your core muscles the strength they need to stay activated.

2) Pull-ups

These are the most efficacious of all the exercises that you can perform. Doing a kip somewhat resembles doing a pull up in its beginning steps as well.

They will bring your shoulder in the shape that they need to be and strengthen them enough to be able to maintain and balance your body’s weight.

Once you find doing pull-ups easy, start practicing to hold your body up the bar for a timed period.

3) Planks

They target both your arms as well as your shoulders. I would personally advise you to include doing planks in your everyday warm-up before performing kips.

In a plank, you are going to learn to shift and divide your body weight into your toes and arms while not allowing your core to touch the ground.

This exercise is a major game-changer for your stomach muscles and is going to help you do wonders.

Drills to do at home to improve or learn kips

Let me start by saying, you must be determined as hell to practice gymnastics at home as well. You are the cream of gymnastics and the world of this sport needs more gymnasts like you.

1) Hollow holds 

In gymnastics, we’re taught to perform hollow holds as an essential part of our warm-up routines. Not too surprisingly, it is also practiced as a drill for learning to perform kips. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that they are a baby version of doing kips due to the similarity in steps.

To do a hollow hold, you are going to need to lay back on the floor and slowly pull your straightened hands and legs up in a joint manner. After repeating this process several times, you may move on to other drills 

2) Practice leg lifts on a pull-up bar

To put it simply, this drill is the second step of doing a kip. It requires you to bring your body all the way up so that your toes are touching the bar. You may also practice other exercises once you get over the bar. 

3) Establish your drill routine

A gymnast doesn't need to follow the above-mentioned exercises. You are free to break down the method of doing a kip even further and practice portions that you face difficulty in.

Equipment required for learning or improving kips 

If you are associated with a gym, there is nothing you need to worry about. However, if you intend to practice performing a kip at home, you are going to need the following tools;

  • Pull up bars (this are deemed to be essential for performing the drills as well)
  • Kettlebells (for the reason of performing exercises)
  • High Bars
  • A guide to performing kips
  •  A 7 to 8 inch gymnastics mat