I was rewatching the US Combined Invitational from last January and Sam Farber, one of the hosts, asked what dynamic climbing is compared to static climbing. I’m a beginner climber and I realized that understanding what these two types of climbing styles are helped me be able to watch climbing and learn from it.
If you prefer not to read, then put simply, static climbing is a slower, controlled movement, whereas dynamic movement is short bursts of powerful moves.
In this article, I outline what each style is and the pros and cons of static and dynamic climbing. In addition, I’ve included information comparing them directly and what you should be best at (hint: it depends on the climb) as well as recommendations for ways to become better at both.
What Is Static Climbing
Static climbing is a style of climbing that uses slow controlled movements. Static climbing is popular for all types of disciplines and is most popular in sports climbing. The most common or recognizable movement in the static climbing style is flagging.
Flagging is when you place your leg out in the opposite direction you are moving in order to control movement. It is similar to how a cat uses its tail for balance.
Pros of Static Climbing
- Because static climbing is a slower movement, climbers that practice and are really good at static climbing often have more endurance and/or steady strength compared to those that focus primarily on dynamic climbing. This is especially evident when it comes to grip strength and holding onto climbing holds for an extended period of time.
- One of the most common arguments for static climbing is the ability to focus on technique. It is easier to focus on technique when every movement is slow and thought out.
- In addition, many climbers that want to grow their ab strength will commonly use static climbing on inverted routes to help build their core.
Cons of Static Climbing
- One thing that static climbing makes more difficult is managing lock-offs. It is very frequent that you will need to hold a lock-off position while statically climbing because of the positioning required to get to other handholds. Lock-off positions require a lot of strength and energy, especially in your grip.
- Some climbs require big moves and that is much more difficult (almost impossible) statically than it would be dynamically.
What Is Dynamic Climbing
Dynamic climbing is a climbing style that requires short powerful movements to get through a climbing problem. Dynamic is most popular with men climbers but, of course, it is common for both men and women.
The most recognizable movement in a dynamic climbing style is called a dyno.
A dyno is where you have to swing into a move while removing both hands off the wall at one time. It is commonly required in at least one boulder at a professional competition.
Pros of Dynamic Climbing
- Dynamic climbing is a great way to move through a climbing problem quickly. Many climbers associate dynamic climbing with more efficiency because you can minimize the number of moves you have to make to complete the climb.
- It helps you reach holds that may otherwise be out of reach with minimal locking-off.
- Dynamic climbing also increases your agility and ability to move quickly through movements on the wall that would otherwise be close to impossible if using static movement.
Cons of Dynamic Climbing
- A common concern that climbers have about dynamic climbing is that if you don’t have a foundation in climbing techniques, it is much harder to learn technique while practicing dynamic movements. This is probably because it is harder to pay attention to your body position and weight distribution when you are focusing on quickly moving to the next hold.
- One thing that I’ve noticed about dynamic climbing, is that it’s harder on my hands/skin. It seems like dynamic movements require tougher skin because your hands have to move off of a handhold and onto another handhold quickly and with a lot of force. In climbing gyms, this is particularly rough on your hands because climbing holds are like sandpaper.
- In addition, climbers are much more likely to fall while doing a dynamic movement compared to static movement. This increases the chance of injury, especially in your ankles and/or wrists.
Which is Better, Static or Dynamic Climbing?
It is popular to compare static climbing to dynamic climbing by looking at where momentum is coming from and where your center of gravity is. Static climbing requires you to move your center of gravity before moving to the next hold whereas dynamic climbing is more likely to thrust your center of gravity at the same time as moving to the next climbing hold.
So which one is better?
If you want to know which type of climbing is better, then watch a climbing competition. You’ll probably notice that there is almost an equal amount of dynamic and static climbers in the competition. That should show you that one isn’t better than others.
Some climbs require static climbing and some climbs require dynamic climbing. It is best to be good at both so if you want to increase your climbing grade (level) then you should consider practicing both climbing styles.
A climber explained to me that comparing dynamic and static climbing is like comparing a screwdriver to a hammer. They are both great tools and a good handyman would use the best tool for the job.
Most beginning routes are built for static climbing so seasoned climbers frequently recommend that beginners practice static climbing before they train dynamically. That way you can minimize possible injury and practice climbing techniques in a controlled manner.
How To Become Better At Both Styles
I am weaker with dynamic climbing and I know that I need to get better so I talked to climbers and reviewed tons of articles and Reddit threads for recommendations for becoming a good handyman, or in this case, a good climber.
There are two common ways to get good at both:
- You can focus and become really good at one type of climbing before you train for the other type of climbing. This way you can at least be really good at one type of climbing style instead of being mediocre at both styles.
- Practice both equally. It may take longer for you to be good at either style, but it would allow you to level up on your climbing v-grade in all types of climbing styles and will make you a well-rounded climber.
For me, I prefer to mix those strategies. I practice static climbing more than I practice dynamic climbing, but I still work on climbs that require a more dynamic movement. However, I feel that I should practice dynamic climbing more often because I’ve come across climbs that I have to repeat multiple times to finish because dynamic climbing is one of my weaknesses.
If you’ve ever watched a climbing competition, especially a bouldering competition, then you may notice different climbers attempt problems differently. It seemed clear that static movements and dynamic movements were both necessary and that climbers who are comfortable with both are able to complete the problems easier and faster than climbers who prefer one over the other.
For me, understanding that there are two main styles of climbing helped me analyze my own climbing so that I could train and become better at climbing by practicing both styles.
I mostly use static climbing, which, if I was better at dynamic climbing, then I’d be able to finish more climbs or at least finish them easier. Not to say dynamic climbing is better, but to actually say that you need to be able to do both types of climbing styles.
What climbing style do you prefer? Have you come across challenges that would have been mitigated if you were more confident with the other style? Scroll to the bottom of this page to leave your response.