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Move of the Moment - The Layback

Welcome back to the Move of the Moment! This week we're going to look at the simple layback. An easy, yet surprisingly difficult, movement, the layback is a fantastic tool for smoothly ascending cracks, aretes and flakes, with very little physical effort.


Today we've got the return of route setter Phil to give us a demonstration, on the volume from the excellent Orange climb on the comp wall.

In image 1, we can see Phil has entered the layback position. Phil is primarily pushing and pulling through the diagonal bodyparts (we see the contra-lateral position once again!) By opposing his weaker arms with his strong leg, he's able to create an equilibrium roughly around his hips, in line with the arete/volume hold. We can see Phil is also engaging one of the techniques covered in an earlier MotM, the Smear, and another technique we'll cover soon, the Flag. Phil needs to move his left hand to the next hold, and so must make some adjustments to continue with the climb.

In image 2, we can see that Phil has brought his left leg onto the volume. This action does a number of things, it creates more force through his legs (compared to his arms), it changes his equilibrium point (shifting it closer to the volume), and it enables him to release his left arm (creating a contra-lateral position with his right arm). We can clearly see this has worked, as Phil's left arm has almost completely relaxed, coming away from the hold. We can also see that Phil has relaxed his right arm (but not hand!) This enables Phil to rest on his bones, rather than having to engage his muscles - this is how people can "float" up aretes!

Here in image 3 we can see Phil has enabled himself to make a reach with his left hand. Something to note, Phil has made the position slightly harder on himself by not releasing his right leg, or alternatively raising his left leg higher. This means that, instead of pushing himself casually towards the next hold in a stable position, he's had to slightly engage his right arm (this is usually caused by fear, though there are many factors). If Phil was trying to be more efficient, he would bring his left foot above his right on, and ensure that he is using a contra-lateral push-pull motion.


Next time you're at the wall, try this movement! Experiment with higher and lower feet, using uni-lateral and contra-lateral positions, and tensing/relaxing to encourage and control a barn-door (a swinging motion). By playing with these positions, and experimenting on the wall, you'll gain a huge understanding of how your own body works!


Don't forget to try working on both sides of the body to ensure a balanced progression.


Want to learn more about this move and others? Why not book on to one of our improver courses:





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