Learn optimal dyno technique in a controlled setting.

 

By Ryan Halvorson with contributions from Nayton Rosales

Photos by Nayton Rosales

 

As a climber there will come a time when you need to take on a route that requires some sort of dynamic—aka dyno—movement. And while the best way to get better at dynos is to practice them on the wall, there are things you can do off the wall to boost your ability and confidence without the precariousness of launching yourself toward a faraway hold several feet off the ground. 

Plus, training for dynos can improve cardiovascular capacity, strength, balance, power, speed, and stability.

Read on to learn more about dynos and what you can do in the gym to be better prepared for explosive movements on the wall.

 

WHAT IS THE DYNO?

Climbing Magazine’s JP Whitehead says of dynos, “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.”

Dynos are exciting to watch and challenging to perform, which is why they’re often featured in competitions. Some purists don’t believe that they have a place in climbing, but the bottom line is that, at some point, knowing how to dyno will be necessary to send a route.

As Whitehead explains, successfully completing a dyno requires enhanced, well-rounded athletic ability and significant coordination. The climber must be able to powerfully and simultaneously push off with the feet and pull with the arms while keeping the movement controlled enough so that she doesn’t cheese-grate across the wall when grasping for the hold.

It’s a mix of power, speed, strength, and stability.

THE DYNO DEVELOPMENT PLAN

Below are six exercises and variations you can incorporate into your weekly training program. But before we get into that, here are some insights to help train safely and effectively:

  • Limit dyno training sessions. Dynamic movements challenge to the cardiovascular and central nervous systems and too much of a good thing can overload those systems. As such, it’s recommended to keep this type of training to only once or twice per week.
  • Less is more. Emphasize technique over repetitions. How many repetitions you can do depends on your own athletic ability and how you feel on any given day. Take rest at the first sign of mechanical breakdown. If you’re a numbers person, that could be anywhere from three to eight clean reps.
  • Speaking of rest . . . Dynos are also physically taxing and can result in a rapid breakdown of functional ability. As you get tired, the more difficult it is to control explosive movements which can lead to injury, fast. Rest is your friend. Depending on the intensity of the exercise and your own athletic ability, you’ll want to take 30 to 60+ seconds between sets. Before starting the next set, do some self assessment to determine if you feel ready to go again.
  • Keep it tight. Aim to brace your midsection throughout the movements to make sure that your spine is protected. Dynos and the exercises outlined here require significant core control.
  • Start slow. As the old saying goes, you must learn to walk before you can run. The movements in this program are ultimately designed to be completed at a fast, powerful pace. However, it’s important that you can do them slowly in good form before picking up the pace.
  • No pain, ok! Plain and simple: If something hurts, stop immediately.
  • Land softly. Some of these exercises require that you leave the ground and so the ability to decelerate that movement when returning to the ground is key to keeping your joints happy. Make sure to reconnect with hard surfaces softly and with plenty of stability. Don’t resist the ground; rather, slowly and carefully sink toward it as your body absorbs and distributes impact forces. A good rule of thumb is to think quiet feet.
  • Line it up. Postural alignment is another important consideration in keeping the body happy. Here are a few things to think about while training:
    • Shoulders back and down, chest open
    • Prevent the knees from collapsing toward one another
    • Aim to keep the feet at least hip width apart during movements involving squats
    • Squeeze the glutes when hips are extended (aka, when in a standing position)
    • Minimize forward head

 

THE EXERCISES

Pull to Push-Down Variations

Forward

Using a cable machine, resistance bands, or other similar tool, stand tall, brace the middle, and powerfully pull the elbows to the ribs and extend the arms. Return to start slowly.

Cross-Body

This movement is just like the one above except that you bring the arms across the body, from shoulder to opposite hip. Avoid rotating the hips and torso.

With Squat

Start in a squat position with the arms extended. As you stand, simultaneously pull the elbows into the ribs and extend the arms. 

TRX Squat

Adjust the straps so the handles are at hip height. Start in a squat position with arms extended. Drive from the feet and then complete the movement by pulling the elbows the ribs and extending the arms. 

TRX Jump Squat

Explode from the ground while pressing into the handles. As you lower toward the ground, continue to push into the straps to decelerate the movement.

Single-Leg Step-Up

Step-Up With Heel Lift

Step-Up Jump

Jump to Hold

Start by facing a pull-up bar or other similar tool and then leap and grab onto the bar as softly as possible. Aim to minimize the swing. You can change the challenge by facing different directions before you jump, grabbing the bar with different grips, etc. 

Box Jump

Keep the chest open and use the momentum of your arms to increase your vertical motion. Make sure to choose a box height that is appropriate for your skill level. This exercise can also be completed without a box. 

Lateral Box Jump

This is an advanced movement to be completed by high-level exercisers only. Make sure to choose a box height that’s appropriate for your abilities.

Roll and Squat Complex

This is an advanced level exercise. Start in a seated position, roll onto your back and then quickly come to a low squat position by using forward momentum. When you’re able to complete this move successfully, add a leap, then add a pull-up bar grab, and then a pull-up.

Medicine Ball Slam

This exercise is about explosive downward momentum. In this variation, you’ll stay in a standing position. Brace the midsection and then powerfully throw the ball to the ground.

Full-Body Slam

As you slam the ball, lower the body to the ground for even greater power production.