Butterfly Kip Progression with Coach Gideon

Butterfly Kip Progression with Coach Gideon

The Butterfly Kip 

Hello, CFMC! It’s Gideon here; I am one of the early morning coaches. In this post I want to go over step-by-step progressions for developing the butterfly kip. First, we will talk about how best to conceptualize the kip in order to understand how it works. Then we will review step-by-step progressions with a great demo by Jade that shows how to practice and perfect the various movements.

Conceptualizing the Kip

The first and most important step before practicing a movement is to understand how it works on a theoretical level. A good way to define the kip is maximizing and harnessing the force created by your body’s movement. Like a whip or a slinky, a strong kip transfers energy from the very tip of your toes through your legs, torso, arms, and vice versa.

There are two types of kipping used in CrossFit: conventional and butterfly. The main difference between the two is when the pull is initiated. For conventional, the pull occurs on the forward motion of your kip; for butterfly, the pull is simultaneous with your kip. The butterfly kip is more efficient and requires less time under tension. Learn both and then decide which style is better for you. For those of you who prefer the conventional kip, you can still benefit from the progression below.

An example of a kip outside of CrossFit is flipping to your feet while laying flat on your back. (This is something my 1 year old son does when I change his diaper, but that’s another story!).

Butterfly Kipping Progressions

There are six progressions that replicate the stages of the butterfly kip. If you want to improve your gymnastics, master this progression:

  1. Bar kip

  2. Half pull up

  3. Pull up

  4. Chest to bar pull up

  5. Ab to bar

  6. Bar muscle up

The (1) bar kip is the most basic and essential form of kipping with no pull. On the other end of the spectrum is the (6) bar muscle up—the most advanced version that requires an aggressive kip and pull. The (3) pull up and (4) chest to bar are similar movements that involve differing degrees of pulling. If you do not have butterfly pull ups, the (2) half pull up is a great place to start to become comfortable with timing and cycling the kip and pull. If you are able to perform chest to bar pull ups, but do not yet have bar muscle ups, the (5) ab to bar is a good movement to practice that will help tremendously in achieving your first bar muscle up.

Another way to visualize this progression is to think about the target of your kip and pull—that is, where the bar will be in relation to your body: (1) arms fully extended; (2) above head; (3) under chin; (4) chest; (5) abs; (6) hips. Viewing the kip in this way puts the beginner CrossFitter and the most advanced athlete on the same continuum. If you can successfully perform the progression unbroken, add 2-3 reps per movement or try a variation of, say, 6 pull ups, 4 chest to bar pull ups, 2 bar muscle ups across multiple sets. Ideally, each repetition will be fluid and the energy from the previous movement will cycle directly into the next.


Consider this progression like practicing scales in music or vocal warm ups for singing. Practice makes perfect. No matter where you find yourself – whether you are learning the bar kip for the first time or stringing together multiple unbroken repetitions of bar muscle ups – feel free to reach out to any of the CFMC coaching staff for additional tips and helpful pointers.

Further Reading

Greg Glassman


Jeff Tucker