Would you consider yourself a static or dynamic climber? Maybe your both? Or maybe you wish you were more of one and less of the other?

Well the best climbing performance comes from using a combination of static and dynamic climbing. Both have their pros and cons, so it’s all about knowing when it’s best to use each one.

Static climbing is slower and more precise whereas dynamic climbing is faster, less accurate and burns more energy. My opinion is that climbers should climb using static movements and only perform dynamic movements when necessary. Static should be your default.

Doing excessive or consecutive dynamic moves on a climb is going to burn you out fast. This is one reason why beginner climbers get tired so fast. Most of their movements are dynamic because they haven’t figured out the proper balance and body positioning yet. They over load their arms and desperately dive from hold to hold.

Dynamic climbing is more of a high intensity workout for your muscles. During high intensity workouts your muscles rely on glycogen, which is your secondary energy reserve and can run out quite quickly. Basically, too many dynamic movements will make you tired much faster. Static climbing is low intensity and results in less fatigue.

So, in order to maximize your climbing potential, you should have skills in both types of climbing and also know when it’s best to use them.

Based on my experience, I’ve written out some guidelines that will help you climb as efficiently as possible.

My Rules for Dynamic Climbing

dynamic climbing

Photo by Jim Thornburg

Dyno’s – obviously dyno’s are a dynamic movement. When you encounter one just go for it. If you’re a static climber you may feel the urge to see if it can be done statically. Don’t, it’s a waste of time and energy.

Dead Points – it’s a better use of your energy to attempt far moves dynamically. You are lifting your own body weight either way so it’s best to get it done quickly. Attempting a far move statically requires a lot of strength and control, especially in your upper body. Performing it dynamically allows you take advantage of the strength in your legs as well as momentum to get you there.

Not for Small Crimps – Don’t make dynamic movements to small crimps. First, because dynamic movements are not as accurate and second, because you can injure your fingers. When you catch a hold after a dynamic move you are loading your fingers quickly with a massive amount of weight. The smaller the hold the more strenuous it is on your fingers. Just make good decisions. Personally, if I see a climb that requires a dynamic move to a small crimp I usually have no interest and just move on.

Take Advantage of Momentum – Dynamic climbing can create a lot of momentum, so if you see an opportunity where you can use that to your advantage then take it! For example, if you see two or three consecutive hand movements in the same general direction that don’t require you to move your feet, then use the momentum from the first move to get you to the second and third move. So, instead of pausing between each move and starting the next move from zero, use your momentum to keep moving you in the right direction.

Have Good Feet – Dynamic moves are most successful if you have good feet to back you up. Feeling solid on your feet will help you make the move more confidently and with more success. Sometimes though your feet are actually better than they look. You just have to trust that they are going to take you to where you need to go.

Injuries – Since dynamic movements load your body very quickly, it’s not a good idea do it if you have any injuries. Any injuries from your fingers to your shoulders are the most vulnerable. It depends on the injury, the hold, and how big the move. You’re the one that has to make the call.

Skipping Holds – I’m the type of climber that if I can easily eliminate a move then I’m going to do it. In my mind, if the dynamic move required to skip a hold doesn’t require a whole lot of energy then it’s worth it. It probably uses up around the same amount of energy to skip the hold as it does to make two static moves. So, only go for it if the move is relatively easy and if skipping the hold doesn’t screw up the sequence.

My Rules for Static Climbing

static climbingPrecision and Accuracy – Whenever you need to hit a specific part of a hold or get into something like a pocket, then static is usually the way to go. Static climbing is all about accurate movements and excellent body control. Regardless of the type of hold, if you are climbing statically then you should usually be able to catch the hold exactly where you intended too.

Balance – Static climbing works great if you feel super balanced and solid on the wall. Having good footwork is a one of the best ways to find balance. Being able to rely on your feet will allow you to confidently go for the next move with the least amount of effort.

Small Holds – It is safest for your body, especially your fingers, to load your weight gently. Small holds make your fingers especially vulnerable to injury so it’s best to load them slower and more gently. Like I said above, I’d rather skip a climb that requires a move to a small hold if I can’t do it safely. Just keep in mind that small holds are relative. It depends on the size of your fingers and your finger strength. For me, an edge that I can fit a whole pad on is a decent hold, but a beginner or a guy with much bigger fingers may not have the same opinion.

Slab Climbing – Slab climbing is all about static movements and superb footwork and balance. With slab, your arms are mainly just used for balance and your legs carry most of the weight. Since you don’t have to worry about your arms pumping out as fast you can focus on excellent foot placement and steady movements. Unless you are moving to a super awesome hold, then dynamic movements are usually not a great idea on slab and end up in some kind of unfortunate cheese grating to the ground.

Super Steep Overhangs – This is another type of climbing where good footwork is essential. On steep overhangs your arms are weighted so much that you want to find the best feet possible to try and reduce the load. Static climbing on overhangs allows you to focus on good foot placement so you can rely on your feet and as you make a move. Dynamic climbing usually results in your feet cutting off the wall, which is incredibly exhausting on your arms that are probably already close to exhaustion. Sometimes a combination of static and dynamic climbing works well. Since overhang is so demanding you want to get through it quick.

Have anything to add? Please share your thoughts and ideas below! 🙂