Skyler Weekes currently holds the world record for the largest dyno ever achieved in competition. The astounding record was set at the Cliffhanger festival, Sheffield back in July.
'For over seven years, I've been devoted to this great sport of climbing and more specifically, dynoing. Dynoing is like the high jump for climbers. You start on one hold, hurl yourself up the wall in one move, and try to grab another distant hold as far away as possible. The feeling of flying through the air without anything attached only to grab onto another hold farther away is an indescribable feeling. You have to be in peak shape, have razor sharp focus, and believe in yourself completely.
This extremely dynamic move requires a pushing and pulling motion at the same time. For each try, I have to concentrate on firing all of my muscles at once, making sure that I explode my leg muscles up while throwing down my arms and trying to keep sucked in to the wall as much as possible. I can usually only try dynos 10-15 times a day before my energy, strength, and finger skin are gone.
In the summer of 2005, I realized how dangerous this sport could actually get. In a national competition, I fell upside down with no rope attached and landed head first into the pads. I suffered a fractured spine and almost total destruction of my left orbit (eye socket). One year later, after six surgeries and an unimaginable amount of money, I laid in my apartment wondering if I'd ever climb again. I felt like somebody had taken away what was most important to me and I would never feel that rush again. That's when I decided that I would do whatever it took to get back into dynoing and prove to myself and everybody else that you can come back to a sport and be on top.
For many years, I wondered if I had what it took to be number one in the world, to push the limits of the sport further than anyone else, and finally last year I got that chance. In July 2007, I landed an 8.5 ft. leap up a climbing wall just outside of Sheffield, England, in front of a roaring crowd. I'm going back this year to defend the title and hopefully break my own record.
My training schedule is very climbing-oriented. Dyno moves require a great deal of muscle memory, so practicing the movements is very important. I usually workout 4-5 days a week, alternating days of pure climbing with days of pure weights/aerobics. For the climbing days, I start out with a short hike (usually to the climbing area), mostly uphill to get warmed up. This is always followed by a 10 minute stretching routine aimed at my back, core, and forearms.
Once I start climbing, I try to warm up on climbs at about my 50% range. Meaning, I only have to give 50% of what I can do to climb. After I feel sufficiently warmed up, I go to my dyno projects. I have repeated most of Colorado's difficult dynos, so these are projects or untried dynos that I'm exploring for the first time. There are two or three that when done will be some of the hardest in the entire world. This is really me pushing the limits of the sport to a new height!
For my days working out in the gym, I usually start with a light jog (15 minutes) followed by 5 minutes of "heavy" jump rope. This gets all of my muscles warmed up and is followed by a light stretch.
First, I focus on my lower body explosive training. All exercises are done to a maximum of six repetitions. If I can do any more, then I stop and add weight. Next, I move into front power squats and jump back power pull-ups. Last of all, I do power dead lifts.
Next, I focus on my upper body explosive training. I start with power pull-ups with added resistance (30-40lbs). The next exercise is very important to me. These are medicine ball slams. When dynoing in competition, I'm jumping up and to the left. So with this exercise, I start with my feet together and medicine ball high and to the left. In one move, I slam the ball down and to the right as hard as I can to mimic the dyno motion.
My core/abdominal training is crucial and I spend a great deal of time on these exercises. Dead hanging from a pull-up bar, I pull my legs (straight with knees locked) all around as high as I can go (equal with my hands), going left to right and back down in between. All of my other abdominal exercises are forms of medicine ball tosses. Lying down with legs straight and ball above my head, I come up and hurl the ball as hard as I can at the wall. Next, I move my legs to a 45-degree angle and repeat on both sides.
My final exercise is jumping as far as possible in one move up a 45-degree ramp. The ramp is maybe 25ft long, so I try to do this in 4-5 moves. After I start feeling tired, I attach cables to myself for added resistance and do this until total failure.
Twice a week I meet with my Kickfit Trainers, founder Ray Khan and his assistant trainer Keith Bailey. The sessions are a mix of Muay Thai kickboxing, core strength training and plyometrics to improve my explosive power and co ordinate my upper body with my lower. This is done with a series of core strength training exercises such as the push up row and squat thrust, done in conjunction with an exercise Ray concocted, called the mountain climber deadlift, followed by round kicks to the heavy bag or trainer to keep my heart rate up and stretch me out dynamically through each set.
In preparation for the dyno comps it was an ingenious exercise, as it was exactly what I needed to increase my dyno jump. The improvement in reflexes and timing was evident as I was pushed to what I thought was past my limits, I noticed the increase in my practice jumps and the ability to jump higher and consistently for longer periods without getting tired was increasing. Eventually I got through the grueling workout without feeling as if I was going to pass out, Ray grinned and said "now you are ready, hard work combined with a passion and purpose will overcome everything."
For my sport, especially because there are no ropes used for safety during competitions, mental preparation is the most important factor for me. To be able to commit 100% for one move, knowing that if you fall you can be seriously hurt, takes a great deal of faith in yourself. Almost every day, I go through the moves in my head. Walking up to the wall, climbing up the starting holds, swinging back and forth to gain momentum, then hurling myself through the air and latching the end hold.
I returned from the Cliffhanger festival Sheffield, England and the 2009 Dyno World Record competition. The field of competitors was very strong this year and I had to give it everything I had! The days beforehand I always did some kind of light exercise, usually a nice medium length hike through the forests followed by some stretching.
Once I arrived at the competition there were hundreds of people gathered around the wall to watch. Once all the other competitors had fallen it was just up to me to break my old record. I climbed on, threw myself as far as possible, reached out with my left hand, missed and landed on my face, dazed I got up re-focused and stuck it! The new record is 9.3 feet! The crowd roared and cameras went crazy. It was a very good day.
Image: Dave Macfarlane / planetFear
Many thanks to Kickfit Athletics and Bodybuilding.com who believed and supported my effort and passion for the sport.
My next goal is to travel to the southern tip of Thailand, where huge limestone towers explode out of the ocean. I want to do something nobody has ever tried, climb up 3 stories and jump for a world record distance up the wall of rock without harness or safety ropes - falling into the ocean below. I'm currently looking for sponsors for the trip; please contact me at email@example.com if interested.'
planetFear's Dave MacFarlane caught up with Skyler to discuss dynoing, the risks and the future of the sport.
Do you feel that you can continue to increase dyno distances through harder, more specific training or are the limits of achievement going to be reached so as to judge new world records by millimetres rather than centimetres?
I think that the world record distance will start to plateau pretty soon. Once the top dyno'ers in the world have their training and technique down the record distances will start to be broken in smaller increments.
You've taken some huge risks over the years in dynoing, you mentioned your accident of 2005 and we saw almost the same thing happen this year at Cliffhanger, Sheffield. Are the risks worth the possible reward?
For me I personally know for sure any day here could be my last. I personally just love the movement and the feeling of dynoing. It's kind of like where/when the world makes the most sense to me. I feel like I have tried hard, but I'm nowhere near my limit at the sport. I think that improvements to the padding and wall could really help minimize the possibility of accidents in competition. I have had countless injuries putting up hard dynos outside as well, but for me it's just part of the road to success.
What is it about the dyno that draws you back to it time and again?
Kind of like what i said before, it just makes sense to me. I love the feeling of rushing through the air and snagging the last hold. More than anything I love hearing people/the crowd saying "that's impossible! No way can that be done!" then proving them wrong. The greatest feeling in the world is doing what others say is impossible. I also like that I'm on the cutting edge of this new sport so i really feel like i can make an imprint on it for others to follow.
Is there any gear or apparatus that you wish was available to aid in your training or actual dynoing that would improve the sport for you?
More padding in competitions! haha i would really like to see some new kind of padding for the comps so that when i land on my head again (it's gonna happen!) I don't get so badly hurt! I'm starting to work with some companies on training programs specifically for the dyno as well.
What/where is your favourite dyno?
For me, my dyno ZION is most special. I put days upon days of effort into it and with the footholds I used has still gone unrepeated. I have put in about 12 days into a HUGE new one up in the mountains of Colorado that's about 9ft straight up off decent holds and a tiny foothold. I am about 1 inch away on it! The Buckstone dyno in Stanage is always fun! I can't wait to get back so i can try the Wimberry dyno!
What do you envisage for the future of Dynoing? Where would you like to see the sport in 5 years?
I would love to see it in the IFSC which will hopefully happen this year. From there it would be great to see it in the Olympics! It really is the most "measurable" aspect of climbing. The "route" is always the same, footholds, handholds, the wall, everything. I hope the sport continues to get bigger and bigger and more climbers start to go out dynoing all day long like I do!
Skyler is currently developing dyno problems throughout Europe, being at the cutting edge of this emerging sport he is poised to take it to new levels and with increasing awareness brought about by competitions such as Cliffhanger, we are surely going to see exciting things emerge in the next few years.
To support Skyler's ongoing commitment to the development of the sport and to aid in his retaining the current world record title, he is actively looking for sponsors, if you feel your organisation or brand can help then contact Skyler on this address:
Skyler's website includes more images, bio and info on dynoing.
Check out Skyler Weekes' website here>>>
Images unless stated: Gabe Rovick