Revisiting Our Controversial Debate

I wanted to take a moment to revisit the controversial question we posed via video back on October 3, 2019. While the intention of the post was to force perspective challenging thoughts, we didn’t offer any answers ourselves. After some time to let the conversation subside, I figured I’d add my thoughts. 

I originally posted this video to my personal Instagram and the comments were exactly as I expected. It was viewed nearly 4,000 times and received 94 comments making guesses. The question was simple: 


“Can you tell me which pull up is the first that isn’t strict? Comment below 1-12”

The comments were filled with highly respectable movers and coaches from various different disciplines. The answers varied more broadly than even the broad diversity of experts who participated. How is it that such a highly charged topic like the strict versus kipping pull ups conversation could invoke answers as wide ranging as “3” to “9”?

Here’s what I was trying to accomplish on the pull up bar that day. I wanted to perform twelve pull ups on a spectrum from a strict pull up to a nearly maximally dynamic kipping pull up. Quite frankly, I didn’t care which pull up first broke the apparently loose standard what makes for a strict pull up “strict”, but rather to force the view to see that where we choose to oversimplify the issue of what is strict is a very binary concept while movement is much more fluid than that. It’s much more like a spectrum of tension. 

If I were to answer the question myself, I’ll tell you this. The only pull ups performed completely strict are the first two. The stretch reflex begins in the third rep and, while subtle, the third rep is a different task than the first two. Now, I don’t care what standard you choose to set for strict movements (especially since the execution of reps 3-5 are objectively better than what most pass for a quality strict pull up standard), but I do hope that this raises the general level of awareness about movement. It’s worth noting that my heels don’t first move behind the bar until eighth rep, which is a common standard for a kipping effort. 

We all benefit from a conscious understanding and willingness to take responsibility for a larger container of movement than the limiting, short-sided, dogmatic understandings that commonly result in fighting about topics like this one. Let’s see more and do more together. 


Logan Gelbrich  


1/9/20 WOD

Spend 10 minutes on kipping pull ups…


Then, complete 5 rounds for time slowest time:

400m Run

-Rest 2 min-