I began climbing very statically like most other beginners and when I tried to climb harder and compete i couldnt find any information on exactly HOW.
So I made this post to share with you what I have learned on my journey to climbing more dynamically.
How do you climb more dynamically? You can make all of your climbing movements more dynamic by generating momentum and completing the moves in the time frame of the dead point you create in the movement. Dynamic movement is defined by use of momentum to create movement as opposed to moving slowly and in a state of static balance and tension.
- What is dynamic movement?
- Creating dead points
- Climbing more dynamically
- The Kinesphere & application to movement
- Dynamic Drills
- When you shouldn’t add momentum
I struggled for so long to learn how to climb more dynamically because all of my research was met with dyno tips and Excersises to get more powerful pullups, and that is not all there is to dynamic movement, there’s a bad misconception of Dynamic movements just being the moves where all or most your points of contact separate from the wall in a big, fantastic jump.
This is a damaging misconception for beginning climber’s progress.
This way of thinking will negatively impact your climbing efficiency so in the rest of this post I will fully develop dynamic climbing movement so you can boost your skill and efficiency in climbing.
What IS Dynamic climbing then?
Dynamic climbing is any movement that employs momentum as a means to complete the move.
Dynos are the most obvious dynamic movement because you’re affectively jumping to your next hold requiring you to lose all points of contact with the wall in some cases.
This is defined by a rapid movement in the direction we need to go in to employ momentum as an assistance in reaching our target hold.
But that’s not all there is to dynamic movement, you can make any climbing movement dynamic to increase the efficiency and speed with which you conduct the move.
as an example, imagine the following:
Instead of a static cross over move where you lock off your left arm by pulling really hard and slowly crossing over into your next hold,
you instead flick your hips into the wall with a speedy drop knee and roll your shoulder in the direction of your target hold (with speed) to generate momentum in the direction of your next hold.
This allows you to complete the crossover whilst your body is in the lightest phase of the dead point resulting in increased efficiency of the movement.
This is a pillar of moving with flow and efficiency because it makes your movements faster and you spend the majority of your time between holds in a lighter state than usual because the momentum created will continue carrying us in the direction we aimed it.
Holding on with one hand as we reach for the next hold is one of the most taxing periods in our climbing sequences, because were holding all our weight with one arm.
so instead of locking all your weight off on one handhold, we can employ the use momentum to move through thise phase of increased intensity with momentum and speed to actually REDUCE our body weight for that moment.
What is a dead point?
A dead point in a broad sense is the term used for when an object reaches the apex of its movement or journey and enters a small time period where it barely weighs anything, then weights nothing at the apex, and then very slowly begins to weigh something again as the forces of gravity become greater than the upward momentum.
Imagine you just kicked a ball up in the air, like the above diagram.
When it reaches the apex of its movement it has a split second of complete weightlessness before it comes back down.
This is where the upward momentum has reached equilibrium with gravity and your body weight and you become weightless for just a split second before you must come back down.
Ideally our climbing movement will be conducted in this time frame of near weightlessness because it’s the most efficient way to move between holds.
If you do it properly, when you’re reaching for the next hold, the hand you’re holding on with for the duration of the move might only have to hold a small fraction of your body weight before your other hand catches your next hold and your period of near weightlessness ends.
I dont think we could conduct a whole hand movement in this weightless phase as its such a small time frame but you can definetly move in the seconds iether side where your almost weightless for an incredibly efficient version of the Move.
Creating a dead point
creating dead points requires an investment of speed in the climbing movement to create momentum that will carry your body in the direction you initiated the movement in.
You must create enough momentum through speed of movement that will become greater than your weight, and aim it in the direction you wish to travel to create the dead point.
Aiming your Momentum
To ‘aim’ your momentum you must begin by moving your chosen centre for the movement in the exact opposite direction you wish to go in.
Think of this phase as the bow being pulled back, to create the potential energy and give your centre enough room to create adequate momentum to carry you through the movement.
Bear in mind you don’t have to just create upward momentum as climbing moves can require you to travel sideways or to match in on a hold. you mostly create momentum into the wall so all of your weight can temporarily be placed through your feet while you move one of your weightless hands to your next hold.
If you watch the fail attempts and the succesful attempt you will notice the difference was he charges the move with more sideways momentum than in his unsuccesful attemts where it was sent more up than to the right.
In fact, most of the momentum you’re going to be using in your climbing will be directed into the wall so you have a brief period Where you can move a hand to the next hold.
upward momentum does have its place in climbing for Dyno’s and long reaches that require a boost, but this is much less common than the kind of momentum you can apply to your common climbing moves when you move between holds.
Climbing more Dynamically
You can and should make pretty much all of your climbing movements dynamic through the use of dead points.
Dead points do not have to begin in the hips, contrary to most advice a dead point can be implemented from your knees and feet, by swinging your legs or from the shoulders and it’s usually a combination of at least two of these.
There are multiple places you can initiate one movement from, for example: you can reach your next hold starting a movement in the arms / elbows or the knees and shouders.
one is just much more efficient.
Even on technical slabs or vertical climbs you can use an ‘air headbutt’ to create a smooth dead point in your upper body to be able to move your hands in a state of weightlessness.
To make all of your movements dynamic you simply add more speed to the usual movements through the areas of your body that move for that sequence.
Your centre of gravity is the main focus when it comes to climbing and dynamic movements but it’s not the only place you should generate movement from and in fact it could be the wrong place to generate your momentum in some examples.
For example, if you’re on really small handholds that you can barely hold pulling your hips out from the wall and thrusting them back in could cause you to slip off the hands as you wait on them would temporarily increase.
A better way to create momentum in this scenario would be to use the centre head and the shoulders by arching your back and throwing your upper body into the wall, creating the momentum exactly where you need it to move from those tiny handholds without causing excess weight to be put through them.
Momentum doesnt just have to be generated from the Hips as you have probably been led to believe.
The Dynamic Movement drills makes this clear, but i just wanted to show you the ‘Kinesphere’ Diagram.
It will give you a clear understanding of the Various ‘Centres’ in the body from which you can generate Momentum.
Heres my Video Description:
Dynamic movement drill
To begin your exploration in the nuances of dynamic movement I’ve made you a quick dynamic movement drill that gives you a structure to try and apply more momentum to your techniques.
This list of techniques was learned from Dave Mclouds book ‘9 out of 10 climbers’ So I linked the book here for you. Hes got Lots to learn from in there!
When you are warming up focus all of your attention on the momentum you are using with each movement, then try focusing on each technique from the following list for a couple sessions until you can fully apply them for more dynamic climbing.
- Hip Thrust
- Head butt
- Arm swing
- Leg swing or dragon kick
- Dynamic crossover
- Hip swing
Each one of the listed techniques is a fundamental way to apply more momentum to your usual climbing movements.
The arm swing for example will immediately turn the dead weight of your arm into a beneficial removal of weight in the move simply by swinging it!
Imagine you have a high right foot and left hand.
you are going for a high right-hand hold and you right hand is just being held in the air, not doing anything until you reach the next right hand.
Instead of just rocking over your right foot and cranking with your left hand you can take a lot of weight off your body by swinging your right arm violently in the direction of that target right hand hold. this will create generous momentum in the direction you want to travel and will relieve some of the weight off your left hand, making the whole movement much more efficient.
practise this technique as you warm up for two sessions to gain familiarity with it, and then apply it to your harder climbing and see how much exactly it benefits you!
Common hip thrust, initiated by bringing the hips out far from the wall, then shoot them back into the wall and move a hand or both when you begin to sense the weightlessness.
To experiment with the hip for the thrust threw your hips into a vertical wall and see how many times you can clap before your dead point. Runs out and you have to grab the holds again.
Try this one on a near vertical or vertical wall with really bad holds that you can barely hold, arch your back to bring your shoulders and head out from the wall and ‘head butt’ the wall to create a smaller dead point used for more precise or delicate climbs.
Leg swing or ‘dragon kick’
The leg swing or ‘dragon kick’ can be used on the to overhang as a means of ‘boosting’ yourself in the direction of the next hold, generally used on boards where you can’t create enough momentum with your hips or lower body.
Expect to cut loose with this technique, it’s really optimised for reaching a really far away handhold.
I’ve already explained a dynamic crossover as a previous example, essentially just do a crossover the emphasise speed you throw one side of your hips into the wall with and the shoulder as you roll over to the next hold.
create and aggressive twisting motion in the upper make the momentum in this movement.
The hip swing is used to generate sideways momentum from the hips, is used for sideways Dynos or reaching a really far out hold.
Try swinging your hips left and right to start building up the movement required to throw yourself in the direction of your target hold.
These are just a few examples of how you can make your regular climbing more dynamic. spend a couple warm ups at least just practising one of these methods before moving on to the next, and once they become second nature you can start applying them to your harder climbing and eventually your projects.
Its best to practice skill like this in a warmup so you can focus 100% on perfecting / feeling the movement out. If you immediately try it on near maximal climbs too much of your brain will be pre occupied by sending.
When you shouldn’t use momentum
There are a few instances where using momentum will be detrimental to the move, for example precision moves we have to get your fingers into the opening of a crack or small slot.
In these cases, accuracy is the priority and having too much momentum and movement in your body when you’re going for these holds will more often than not cause you to miss them or hit them with much less precision then you need to stick them.
This is why a lot of outdoor climbers climb much less dynamically than those climbing indoors because outdoor holds generally take more precision to be able to use the right part of the hold.
Equally, really small holds that can be either feet or hands require a constant pressure to be able to use them, especially if you’re relying a lot on friction to stay on the holds.
Too much momentum
Using too much momentum will cause peaks and troughs in the weight applied to these holds as you go through the phases of the dead point and this may cause you to slip off the hold as your friction on them changes quickly.
In some cases, small holes will benefit from the use of momentum to move past them, and to be able to determine whether dynamic movement is appropriate you just have to begin experimenting and develop an understanding of your own momentum.
As a general rule holds that rely on friction will feel much less stable with dynamic movements because they require constant pressure and tiny holds that have edges will benefit more as you have a solid connection with the hold that relies less on friction, but once again this is just a generalised rule and you have to experiment yourself with what works for the holds you’re on.
So, we’ve come to the end of the post, I hope you now have a better understanding of how to apply momentum to your climbing.
A secret top tip for reading right to the end is: When ‘charging’ a movement up, like the hip thrust or swing, pull your centre used in the movement back in the opposite direction you are aiming of going in!
if you have any more questions please feel free to leave them in the comments, I want to write posts for exactly how I can help you!