Rich Froning Responds to Hate Comments about CrossFit from Jillian Michaels

"Kipping...Where I come from that's called cheating, using momentum to do a repetition."

Jillian Michaels is a 44-year-old American personal trainer, businesswoman, author and television personality from Los Angeles, California. Michaels is best known for her appearances on NBC, particularly The Biggest Loser.

“I have a few issues with CrossFit, which is not a secret. First of all, you’ve got what, maybe 20 to 25 movements that don’t really vary? And you’re doing them over and over and over again. So on one hand it stops being effective because you’re not challenging the body from various angles of push and pull, with different varieties of exercises and different types of movements that work different modalities.”

“And I know CrossFit (athletes say), ‘Oh, we work all the modalities!’ — but no, not really, so shouldn’t you choose a workout that has a little bit more flexibility and strength so you get more mobility, not just power, which is speed and strength.”

“A little agility work, maybe some endurance training,” she said. “So that you’re training in a more balanced way, to keep the body changing and keep your training more holistic by hitting all modalities of fitness.”

Jillian Michaels also wrote an article last year for Shape entitled “Why Jillian Michaels Wants You to Stop Kipping in CrossFit.” After Shape recently reposted the video above, many Crossfitters took a stand against her ill informed viewpoint. 


CrossFit legend Rich Froning, also writing in Shape, decided to set her straight with her ill-informed comments. 

“I have been doing CrossFit for 10 years and competing for nine. I opened my own CrossFit gym in 2009 and worked as part of the CrossFit Seminar Staff for six years. I am a big supporter of the CrossFit community and enjoy helping people gain a better understanding of the CrossFit style of workouts. I know many people are unaware and do not fully understand our idea of fitness. While everyone has a right to their own unique opinions, I would like to clarify our beliefs, the way we go about training, and the way the CrossFit community defines fitness.”

On Kipping Pull Ups

Text from Rich Froning:

First, let’s look at kipping pull-ups. 

It’s not just Jillian Michaels. A lot of people are against or are skeptical of kipping pull-ups. So why do I believe in them? In very basic CrossFit terms, with kipping, you are able to do more work faster. While, sure, that’s not always the point of every workout or every exercise, it is a part of the 10 pillars of fitness as defined by CrossFit. 

By kipping, you are able to generate power from the hip, transfer it through the body, then into your arms, creating a movement that originates in your core and moves to your limbs, and also generates more power. It’s like the difference between a push press is to a shoulder press. A shoulder press is a strict movement that does not utilize momentum, whereas a push press uses force generated through the lower body to propel the arms up. 

I also believe kipping helps build functional strength. You are teaching the body to create and control a core-to-extremity movement like throwing a baseball—or if you want to go way back, throwing a spear.

Plus, kipping does apply a full range of motion if done correctly. The kip involves a concentric phase (contraction) when you are pulling up, no real isometric phase (static hold), maybe for a split second at the top, and an eccentric phase when you are coming down into the next rep (lengthening). Also, in CrossFit, we perform many variations on the pull-up—strict pull-ups, kipping pull-ups, strict chest-to-bar pull-up, kipping chest-to-bar pull-up, and, finally, a bar muscle-up. All five of those movements build off of each other and have your body pulling in a different plane of motion.

On The Effectiveness of CrossFit

Next, I’d like to address the broader effectiveness of CrossFit training. 

Are there more effective ways to target multiple muscle groups and practice synergy between the upper and lower body than through AMRAP training [as many reps as possible] and CrossFit? Yeah, I’m sure there are more efficient ways to target muscles but, that isn’t what we’re trying to do in CrossFit. We think more about movements and general physical preparedness than we do about specific muscle groups and how to target them. 

To further show the variety of CrossFit training, take a look at what my workout routine has consisted of this week: I indoor biked 30 plus miles (it’s cold!), swam 5,000 meters, front squatted 325 pounds for reps, performed kipping pull-ups along with chest-to-bar pull-ups and bar muscle-ups (in the same workout). I also snatched 205, 225, and 245 for reps with handstand walk obstacles between sets. 

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