“The Dynamic and Locked Core”

Research > Experimental Training > “The Dynamic and Locked”

Feature Image of Akiyo Noguchi, boulderer from Japan at the Boulder Worldcup 2017 in Munich, Germany. Picture (with link) by Henning Schlottmann.

Norwegian Research Team Experimental Training Protocol

DANGER: this is a protocol described in a research experiment. Extreme care should be taken before choosing to follow this protocol.

Below is an experimental training protocol developed by Norwegian (and UK) researchers.

For reference, the study is:

  • Effects of ten weeks dynamic or isometric core training on climbing performance among highly trained climbers by AH Saeterbakken, E. Loken, S. Scott, E. Hermans, VA Vereide, and V. Andersen
  • Special note: for more ideas, such as using the tests (with pictures!), see the paper directly (open source)

Context: The study (2018) included 13 males and 6 females who climbed between 5.11c anad 5.13c and were divided up into two groups, with one training isometric core and the other dynamic core.  The researchers wanted to test whether isometric core training (ICT) or dynamic core training (DCT) was more effective in both advanced and elite climbers.  Tests included: climbing-specific core (body lock-off; body lift) and non-climbing specific core (dynamic: superman; isometric: trunk flexion; trunk rotation right; trunk rotation left)

Result: “dynamic” core training improved performance in three isometric core tests (trunk flexion and left/right rotation), while the “isometric” core training improved performance in one climbing-specific core test with dynamic trunk and hip action.  Authors recommend: dynamic core-training to increase oblique muscle strength and isometric core training for the “functional transfer” of gains to climbing performance.

Experimental Training

Images of the 4 Workouts modified for either isometric or dynamic intent. Saeterbakken et al (2018)
  1. Warm-up (for tests, unknown for training): easy 10-minute aerobic walking and jogging, 10 minutes of traverse climbing, and five boulders (5-10 moves) with medium grips.
  2. Twice a week for 10 weeks
  3. Rests between sets and exercises: 2 minutes.
  4. ICT has three seconds of recovery between lock-off reps
  5. Each exercise starts at level 1 (easiest) and progressively gets harder over six additional levels to level 7 (hardest).
  1. Progression Description
    • For the Foot Lift, start by lifting the knee, then: increase reps, lift foot, increase hip angle, and increase distance to foot stance.
    • For the Arm Lock-Off, start on a vertical wall, then: increase angle of wall, increase the distance to the grabbed hand, and increase the number of reps.
    • For the Prone-Bridge, start on the knees, then: increase distance of hands, move to feet (and put hands under shoulders), increase distance of hands on floor forward of head.
    • For the Side-Bridge, start on the elbow, then: increase elbow distance forward of head, extend other arm straight up, and elevate foot.
  2. Exercise Table (Only easiest and hardest shown)

Fun anecdotal note: I enjoyed speaking to the Lattice Training community about this study.  Some of that discussion can be found at this Beta Angel Science and Community link.