Five Tips for Tackling Dynos

Hold too far away? Michaela Kiersch has pointers for how to go for it.
The author at the Bouldering World Cup in Vail, 2018. Earlier in her career, she had to step back and study how to dyno. Photo by Cameron Maier

I have spent almost my entire life climbing in gyms and am very comfortable in that environment. Few things in a gym intimidate me—except maybe Band-Aids on the floor, birthday parties and dynos.

I’ve had a complicated relationship with dynos. Officially, I reached my peak height of 5’ 1’’ in about sixth grade, and I never had the growth spurt people told me to expect. Those are probably the same people who said I could keep growing into my early 20s.

The combination of my size and natural competitiveness has led me to work hard on a few techniques for more successful dynoing. Here they are.


Use your hips. In climbing gyms, we hear phrases like, “Stay close to the wall” or “Move your hips.” But why? My golden rule of climbing movement is that your hips should move in a linear fashion toward your intended hold. By moving your hips intentionally toward the target, you increase your likelihood of being in the correct position to stick it. To apply this rule to dynos, start by considering your choice of footholds.


Choose your feet. Select feet based on the direction you will be moving in and the distance that you must jump. When you are dynoing toward a hold to the right, it is important that the footholds allow for movement in this direction. Typically, the ideal choice will be either directly below your center of gravity or slightly to the left. Deciding on the right footholds lets you use your legs and propel your body toward the high handhold.

A common faux pas is choosing feet that are too high. Footholds that are too high may push your hips away from the wall instead of helping propel them upward. Conversely, too-low footholds may inhibit your ability to generate force. Choose feet that are somewhere in your mid-range of knee flexion/extension to optimize your power and keep your hips close to the wall.

Don’t just launch. Use the lower hand to push and guide you to the target hold. Photo: Daniel Gajda/IFSC


Push! The next step is actually to attempt the dyno. After years of trying to improve my dyno technique, I realized that I was only half-dynoing. As I began to incorporate movement analysis into my training, I could see that my technique was mostly pull and very little push.

Most of climbing is pulling down as hard as possible, but in dynos it is important to remember to push. I realized that as soon as I yarded upward from the hold I was on, my hands were in the air and often short of the reach. My dynoing improved significantly when I began to push downward with my hands and complete the full movement. It was also important to implement the push technique in my lower body to ensure that I was maximizing the power in my legs and generating movement from the footholds.

The big takeaway is to follow through on the entire motion, pull and then push.


Control the swing. Once you reach the hold, the momentum you’ve generated many continue, with your body still traveling. To control the swing and stay on the hold, engage your core to bring your center of gravity back toward the wall. Pulling back inward enables you to find the next footholds and re-establish a base of support.


Use the visual arts. My final secret to dyno success is to film and review your attempts. Sure, it’s easy to picture what dynoing should look like, but it’s hard to apply the concepts: to engage multiple muscle systems and techniques as well as orient yourself in space. When watching your dyno frame by frame, you can identify where your center of gravity is at each stage (using your hips as the landmark) and how to adjust the movement for more success.

Plus, if you’re filming when you stick the dyno you’ll have awesome content to show your friends!


Also Read

Speed Climbing 101

  • Michaela Kiersch, 25, is a professional rock climber from Chicago. She is studying at Rush University Medical Center for a doctorate in occupational therapy. She climbs both indoors and outdoors, where she has sent 5.14c.

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