How to Do a Kip Up? Beginners Fast Track Guide

Irrespective of whether you are an old school martial arts fan or you’d love to master a bodyweight skill that looks incredibly cool no matter where you perform it, then you are at the right place.

We are talking about the Kip Up folks. How do I do one? 

Well wait.. first what exactly is a kip up?

The flashy move that’s performed by everyone from martial artist, gymnasts to Karatekas, to street dancers. 

It has had its share of limelight in Hollywood. The great Bruce Lee performed it to perfection. And Jackie Chan took it to a whole different league. 

More recently, it is considered as a hallmark of spine flexibility in Calisthenics. And for good reason too.

It is an explosive movement which takes you from a supine position to a standing position in a single movement that uses almost every major muscle group in your body. 

It is flexibility, it is a strength, it is mobility, it is the whole 9 yards. 

If you have been fascinated by the Kip Up, but didn’t know how to learn it, then here’s a brief guide that teaches you the fundamentals of mastering it. 

What is a Kip Up?

how to do a kip up

Just in case you don’t have the faintest idea what we are talking about over here, the Kip Up is a move in which you lie down straight on your back, roll backwards on your spine propping up your legs in the air and use your hands to push your entire body off the ground creating enough momentum so that you land on both your feet. Whew! 

Sounds like a cakewalk, doesn’t it? 

How To Do a Kip Up Correctly

Alright. Now that you are game for it, we’ll divide the entire move into six steps. 

Not that it would make it any easier to learn this if you are new to it.

But at least it will give you a clear understanding of how to go from 1 to 6.

Step 1 – The starting position

kip up step 1

Kapow! Your opponent has just knocked the living daylights out of you.

You are warming the floor, ass down, on your back. You can see the sky above you. 

Congratulations. You just nailed step 1 to the Kip Up.

Keep lying there on your back. Take both your palms and rest them on the ground next to your ears. 

It is very important to have enough mobility in your wrists to have both palms flat on the ground for support. 

You can choose to keep the knees straight, or bend it at 90-degrees. 

Step 2 – The backward roll

kip up step 2

The next step is somewhat similar to the Plow Pose in Yoga. Also called ‘Legs up the wall’, you will lift your legs upwards and slowly bring it towards your head so that your entire bodyweight shifts towards the upper back. 

This position is extremely crucial because it provides you with the momentum you need for recoiling and then jumping. 

Step 3 – The Kick

kip up step 3

This is where most people go wrong with the Kip Up, the kick. Use all your strength to kick upwards hard and fast. It must be powerful enough to lift your body off the floor. 

Tip: As you kick, try to kick straight up rather than trying to kick outwards. 

This will give you height needed for the move. 

Step 4 – The push

kip up step 4

Once you have successfully launched your body into the air, push off the floor with your hands.

This should happen in synchronization like one single move. Lie on the back, backward roll, kick and push. 

Don’t be embarrassed if you don’t get it right in the first attempt. Many people take weeks if not months to master the kip up. 

Step 5 – Hooking the legs

Until now, your focus was to do everything vertically above your head. 

Now, it’s time to hook the legs towards the ground while using the force from the push to stand up. 

At first, you may find it impossible to land both feet on the ground and gather enough momentum to stand.

But with practice, you will begin to land (awkwardly) in a squat position. 

Step 6 – The final position

Once you land on both your feet, practice and then practice some more to hone your balance and polish off the move. 

Now you have learned how to do a kip up the correct way..

But what if you want to learn how to do a kip up on the bars?

How to do a Kip Up on Bars

A bar Kip Up is a Parkour and gymnastics move that is used as a base to launch into any one of the more advanced moves. 

It is not as flashy as the on-the-ground version is. But it is considered to be one of the fundamental moves in gymnastics. 

One that you must master if you are serious about progressing to more advanced moves. 

There are five steps to perform a Kip Up on Bars

Step 1 – The jump

Jump and grab the bar with both hands. Your body must be moving forward with your chest up, hands straight and legs swinging to create momentum for the next step, which is the glide or the swing. 

Step 2 – The glide

Swing forward to create momentum. Once again, your chest should be forward. Your feet should be behind the body and your focus should be to swing freely at this point. The body should be tight. Some gymnasts also prefer to keep their feet straight ahead. Do whatever works for you. 

Step 3 – Shin to the bar

This move can also be called feet to the bar. After you swing forward with your feet behind the body, use the momentum to bring the feet forward as your body swings backwards. Bring the feet towards the bar. 

Step 4 – Wrist shift

Now rather than pushing the feet downwards and trying to do a muscle up, which is a more advanced move, kick up the feet further towards the bar and shift your wrists to a more upright position so that when you move your feet downwards later and propel the body upwards, the wrist can bear the weight. 

Step 5 – The Kip Up

Move your legs downwards, propel your body upwards and finish the move. You should have straight hands now with your upper body completely above the bar. 

What exercises should I work on to get better at kip ups?

As we mentioned earlier, the Kip Up is a dynamic move that involves multiple compound muscle groups starting with your back. 

So, you should work on mobility exercises, muscle strengthening exercises and balance moves. 

Here are four exercises that can be very helpful in developing the strength and flexibility needed to perform flawless Kip ups. 

The lying leg raises

Lie flat on the back and raise your legs vertically in the air bending 90-degrees at the waist. Try to keep your legs straight.

Sit ups

Lie flat on your back and sit up in a rolling motion and try touch your feet. Better than just normal sit ups fact paced explosion sit ups. Explode up and try and touch your toes as fast as you can. 

Plow Pose

Lie flat on the back, lift up your legs and move them towards your head keeping them straight the whole time. Only extend it as much as you can. Your hands should be on the floor supporting your body. 

Rolling squats

From a lying position, roll your legs backwards towards your head and then roll forward, trying to sit up in a squat position. This exercise helps you develop the strength needed to push the body off the ground. 

Pike Push ups

Helps develop a tremendous amount of shoulder strength. Look up on Google for this and practice a lot. 

Full back bridges

Start with the simpler variations of the move like the straight bridge until you gain the expertise needed for a full back bridge. 

How long does it take to learn how to do a kip up?

Well, that depends on how flexible you are and the amount of time that you are willing to invest in the practice. 

Even if you are a rank rookie who’s never tried any of the above mentioned exercises, you should still be able to do a full kip up in a couple of months at best. 

Take it slow. Do each of the exercises until you are comfortable enough to move to the next one. 

Most importantly, have fun.

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