Kip-up Tutorial

The kip-up is a bodyweight skill that comes up in many disciplines including calisthenics, martial arts and parkour. It’s a great way to work on explosive power, hip drive and total body coordination. Plus if you ever fall on your butt during your training, returning to your feet via kip-up is the best way to redeem yourself.

On the other hand, you’ll probably look pretty dumb while trying to learn to kip-up, so if you’re shy about flailing around in public, better to practice this one at home. I also recommend using a soft surface for training this technique.

Kipping It Real
As the kip-up is a fairly advanced technique, I don’t recommend working on it unless you are already fairly lean and strong (and have healthy joints). I also suggest getting comfortable with back bridges first to make sure your spine is ready.

To perform a kip-up, begin by lying on your back with your palms flat on the ground on either side of your head. From there, roll your thighs up toward your shoulders and get ready to explode from your hips. To land a successful kip-up, you’ll have to kick your legs up and out as hard as you can and push off with your hands a split second later.

Kipping Point
Think about whipping your legs around in a circle so you land toward your toes. You want to try to get your feet under your center of gravity so you don’t fall backwards. Timing is crucial to landing this move and it takes a lot of trial and error. As always, be patient and keep at it. I’m still practicing toward putting more pop in my kip-up; fitness training is always a work in progress.

Watch the video below for more:

19 thoughts on “Kip-up Tutorial

  • By Jim -

    Dude, you are so close to being the guy from Mortal Kombat it’s not even funny…

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Haha – I used to love that game!

    • By Mario R Calvisi -

       KANO…!!!

  • By Mike Healy -

    Excellent, I’m glad to find out what this move is called. I’ve described it as the “back flicky thing” before and usually needed a supporting demo with my hand for people to know what I mean.

    I’ve got an up and down history with this move. If I do it after a lot of drinks the power is quite amazing; almost clipped a ceiling fan with my feet last time. But sober I often don’t quite have the strength to stick it.

    Haven’t attempted it in a good while, so I might see if I get it as smooth and easy as yours Al.

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, Mike!  Glad I may have inspired you to start working on this move while sober!

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  • By Anonymous -

    So Cool Al…

    I’m  going to try that and add that to my list of exercises to do .  I want to be like Kwai Chang Caine even though I’m get’n near 60 although I feel like I’m 24, yeah no kidding.Thanks Al…

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks!  Glad you’re not letting your age hold you back!

  • By Dragonmamma/Naomi -

    This is my new goal. Which means I need to start doing bridge push-ups on a daily basis to get my back flexibility where it needs to be. I can do them, but I can’t currently push up as high as I should.

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Sounds like you know what you gotta do!  :)

  • By Steven Sashen -

    Speaking as a former All-American gymnast, one way to get more power is to start NOT with your feet behind your head almost touching the ground but, instead, with your feet pointed to the sky, and hips as high as you can get them. THEN you pike and explode. 

    This is like the difference between doing a full squat starting from standing, vs. a box squat starting from the bottom.When you start in the extended position and then pike, you’re creating some stored elastic energy.

    Also, most people make the mistake of trying to kip “out” as if trying to get their feet to the ground as quickly as possible. The trick is to kip mostly UP (at about a 45-degree angle) so that the timing of the kip allows you to use your arms to push your upper body up, with as little work as possible.

    That is, when done with correct timing, the kip doesn’t really use much energy.

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks for the advice, Steven!  I’ve definitely got room for improvement in my technique.

    • By Anonymous -

       With all respect due to Al as the man behind the website and someone who inspires me to excellence in the world of bodyweight training, a huge lightbulb went off in my head when I read this. Thanks for this whole vid/thread section, Al, as the Kip-up is something I’ve wanted to learn how to do for years, and could never figure it out. It’ll be checked off the list as soon as I am able. Cheers.

      • By Al Kavadlo -

        Glad you found this post helpful, Paul!  You’re welcome!

  • By Rob White -

    Al im so glad you did tutorial! Of course I know you didnt do it for me but thanks anyway cos i asked for it a while back.

    I can roll back into the right position ok (i practised candlestick roll 
    http://gymnasticswod.com/content/roll-candle-stick  and ‘pizza rocks’ http://www.drillsandskills.com/article/9) for a while) but i cant seem to get much of a push off with the arms. My full bridge is ok but i know it could do with more work. Do you use a lot of arm push when you do this?

    Also knowing how much to kick up vs out is also a bit tricky

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Ask and ye shall receive!

      It sounds like you’ve got the right idea – you just gotta keep at it.  This move takes a ton of practice.  I really can’t stress that enough.

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  • By kOrsanX -

    I have found that learning the actual movement pattern on a bed is very helpful. Not kidding! For one, the bed helps you kip up a little since it’s bouncy, and secondly there are no hard landings on your ass, which is a huge plus for me lol.

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Sounds fun! Just don’t break your bed. :)

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