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The dyno. Pushing off, flying through the air, catching your whole body with a desperate latch, and holding a huge swing requires a lot of coordination and power. Some write it off as a circus trick, but understanding how to generate strength and do big moves is crucial for climbing hard boulders and routes. Dynamic moves can help you skip blank sections of rock, and they ultimately save energy because they require less time gripping tiny holds, thus making them more efficient and less physically taxing. Not to mention that dynos are absolutely crucial for the vertically challenged among us; there will be climbs that are impossible without a jump move. Well-executed dynos are graceful and fluid, with the arms and legs synchronized perfectly during takeoff, flight, and landing. Practice the following techniques to hone your soaring skills and change those wild flops into elegant flights. Do them in a safe environment, with plenty of pads and spotters, making sure to clear your landing zone beforehand.
Before even attempting the jump, take some time to understand the mechanics of the particular dyno you’re attempting. Map out the trajectory of your body in your head, taking into account the direction gravity will pull you as you soar through the air. Vertical terrain is relatively simple, with gravity pulling you straight down at the maximum height of your jump. On steeper terrain, however, you’ll be jumping up and out, so your path through the air will look more like a curve. This means you’ll need to stay closer to the wall through the jump. Part of this is planning where your pads and spotters should be, keeping in mind that you won’t land directly beneath the landing hold if you miss it. Instead you will probably land a few feet out from that spot. If possible, feel the target hold to familiarize yourself with the sensation of latching it. Hanging from this hold can also help you gauge the true distance between the holds.
Simply put, you’ve got to find your power stance to set up for a dyno, meaning your feet and hands should be in the optimal spot to get maximum output for blastoff. You will be levering off the start holds to gain momentum, so your hands should feel solid on their respective holds throughout the entire jump until the moment you let go. Two important points for successful dynos: straight arms and high feet. The former acts like a lever to slingshot you upward—don’t bend your arms to try and pull up through a dyno; that defeats the purpose of the jump. The latter will give you the most power. You might have to try a few foot positions, but they should never be so high that you feel scrunched up. The sweet spot is different for everybody due to individual height, arm span, and leg length, so experiment with different feet and hand placements until it feels right. Sometimes the difference between a slam dunk and an air ball is as small as moving your foot an inch up, or your hand to a different part of the hold. Before liftoff, look at the target hold and envision yourself successfully completing the dyno.
Dynamic moves engage multiple muscle groups in a fraction of a second, requiring both thoughtful technique and explosive power. The dyno begins with the most powerful muscles in your arsenal: the legs. Think about pushing into your feet to drive your body upward on vertical terrain, or up and slightly outward on the steeps. Your legs provide the spring while your arms simply pivot around the start hold; concentrate fully on the push from your legs, not your arms, which should only help guide you up. Drop down into the lowest point of your power stance, funnel all your energy into pushing with your legs, and explode up quickly while keeping your arms straight. When you reach the peak of your push, let go with your hands and smoothly move them up to reach for the target hold; it can help to keep your hands close to your body when moving them up. You’ll see some folks set up for a dyno and do a few pumps on the start holds, but that only serves to tire you out. Once you set up, it’s OK to do one pump to familiarize yourself with the upcoming path of flight, but don’t do more than that.
Hold the Swing
Doing a vertical dyno should create very little swing since the angle is straight up. On steep sections and roofs, however, the angle of the jump will cause your lower body to swing way out from the rock once you latch the hold. This more horizontal position can be dangerous, with a potential fall that resembles a belly flop. To mitigate massive swings, focus on keeping the core engaged throughout the move, then try to tighten up again once you contact the hold. Don’t fight the swing—instead, encourage the swing to happen by arching your back and allowing your legs to move backward with momentum. At this point it might be helpful to pull up with your arms, which could provide a better, more positive grip on the finish hold and help engage your core even more. Once the swing reaches its apex, snap your core and lower body forward and back into the rock. While most people will naturally lead with one hand during the jump, one technique is to purposely do this to latch the target hold with one hand, then bring the other hand up right after to match it and hold the swing.
Some dynos will allow you to keep one hand on the start hold or a foot on, but all-points-off dynos will require you to remove both hands and both feet from the rock. For all of these variations, it’s important to keep your core tight and engage all your limbs so you move through the air in a compact package without flailing wildly. This will help you keep a foot on down low if possible, prevent an unexpected swing when you catch the hold, and keep your body in control while flying through the air. Keep your eyes on the finishing hold through the entire move to improve coordination and give your body a consistent target.
Jump School (With Sean McColl)
Break It Down
Every dyno, in the gym or outside, is different. While it all boils down to one quick jumping motion, each dyno has its own easier qualities and its own cruxes. Sometimes the start holds are so good that you don’t need to think about them, instead focusing your attempts on getting more purchase from a slippery foot smear. Other times, the pure distance between start and target holds accounts for the difficulty. Whatever the case, I approach each dyno as a movement I’ve never encountered before, so I figure out the hardest part of every big move and focus on that. That said, remembering similar dynos can help me wrap my head around what it takes to do the new move.
Hips Don’t Lie
Success in a dynamic movement requires the correct transfer of weight from the feet and legs to the upper body. Your hips are vastly important to this weight transfer. Most novice climbers approach dynamic movements straight on, with hips parallel to the wall. Twisting your hips either direction into the wall keeps your body closer on overhangs, more efficiently transfers weight, and simply makes the movement feel less awkward for novice climbers. The push begins in the feet, the momentum moves through the hips, and then you jump! If you’re having trouble with a particular move, record yourself on it and watch it in slow motion. This will help you figure out the mechanics of the dyno and see where and when different parts of your body engage.
Stick the Landing
Holding the swing is as much a part of dynoing as the jump itself, and sometimes it’s the most difficult part! It comes down to coordination, hitting and immediately latching the best part of the target hold with the strength to hold on. The process of working a dyno involves a lot of muscle memory, and the more you hit the target hold and fall during the swing, the more familiar your muscles become with the movements and stresses involved. Probably the best general piece of beta for projecting a dyno is to keep trying!