As you get more comfortable on the pull-up bar, you’re going to start exploring new ways to use it. Eventually, you might wonder about butterfly pull-ups vs kipping pull-ups: how they’re alike, how they’re different, and which one you should be using.

Let’s go!

Butterfly Pull-Ups Vs Kipping: How are They Alike?

The two movements are indeed similar in two ways:

  1. They both get your chin over the bar.
  2. They’re more efficient than strict pull-ups.

How Do They Differ?

While the end goal might be the same, when it comes to butterfly pull-ups vs kipping pull-ups, the technique is quite different.

The kipping pull-up involves alternating between a Superman and hollow body position and using the tension and momentum to sort of “whip” your chip over the bar. In a butterfly pull-up, you’re moving in a continuous circular motion. So, the main difference is that in a kipping pull-up, you push away from the bar. And in a butterfly pull-up, you move forward and through the bar.

Check them both out in action. Here’s a kipping pull-up:

And here’s a butterfly pull-up:

Which Type of Pull-Up Should You Be Using?

This depends on two things:

  1. Your skill level.
  2. Personal preference.

Similar to how you really shouldn’t be doing kipping pull-ups until you can do strict pull-ups, you shouldn’t be doing butterfly pull-ups until you can do kipping pull-ups. Once you’ve got the strength, technique, speed, and timing, if a WOD calls for pull-ups, opting for butterflies is a smart move to knock out your reps more efficiently. You’ll be able to cycle through your reps faster, which means you’re not going to fatigue as quickly when it comes to shoulder, forearm, and grip strength.

We still highly recommend you use grips to prevent rips, tears, and blisters.

In the butterfly pull-up, your hands might experience even more friction against the bar than they do with kipping. Grip up, chalk up, tape up — whatever you need to do to keep your hands in one piece.

Psst! Don’t forget to read the Ultimate Guide to Gym Grips and Hand Care.

Is One Type of Pull-Up Easier Than the Other?

Yes and no. The more advanced you are, the easier you’re going to find butterfly pull-ups vs kipping. This is because, again, you’ll be able to do them faster.

male athlete doing kipping pull-ups

However, until you’ve really got butterflies down, if you attempt to do them in a WOD (when time is of the essence), you might end up frustrated. Just like most of what you learn in functional fitness, you might only be able to string a few reps together before your timing is off, or your grip gives out. In that case, you might opt to stick with kipping — which is totally fine! Be patient with yourself and eventually, butterfly pull-ups will feel like the norm.

If you’re ready to work on the more advanced movement, check out our blog for a complete breakdown of butterfly pull-ups. It’ll show you how to do the movement step by step.