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Aside from all the fun, autobelays are also effective training tools to take your workout to the next level. Here are different ways to use autobelays for training.

Cardiovascular fitness workout

Ever find yourself out of breath when climbing? You might benefit from aerobic workouts. Autobelays can be a good way to add aerobic training, which is also known as cardio. Climbing easy to medium routes with moderate rest will elevate the heart rate and improve cardiovascular health while building up endurance at the same time.

Main benefits: Cardiovascular health and increased fitness.

Example workout: Climb continuously for 10-15 minutes at a comfortable grade, around 1 or 2 number grade below the highest grade you can climb (ex. 5.11a becomes 5.10a). You shouldn’t get exhausted from forearm pump. Try to increase your speed while practicing regular breathing patterns.

Technique and skill-practice workout

Having good technique is essential to any type of climbing, and practicing on autobelays will effectively level up your skills. On roped climbing, setters intentionally set with intricate footwork sequences and hidden rest positions, making roped climbing the playground for practicing technique.

On autobelays, climbers can try medium to hard climbs with intentional movement. Keeping in mind the goal of mastering technique, try making every movement graceful, rhythmic and calculated.

Main benefits: Improve technique, route-reading skills, and mindfulness.

Example workout: Choose a climb 1-2 letter grade below maximum (ex. 5.10c becomes 5.10a). Paying attention to your entire body, slowly move through the climb as gracefully as possible.

Power endurance (fighting pump) workout

Have you ever felt your forearms burning with soreness after several moves? Your grip just gives up and you find yourself falling from the top? That feeling in the forearm is colloquially named “pump,” where the lactic acids build up in the bloodstream causing you to fail on a climb.

Luckily, there are ways to get better endurance, and climbing autobelays is one of them. The goal here is to pick hard, physical climbs. You should pick a hard climb you can repeat more than one time.

Main benefits: Increased power endurance and strength.

Example workout: Repeat this route until your forearms have given up on you, then rest actively for up to 5 minutes. During your rest, you can walk around, shake out the arms, or stretch. When time is up, get back on the wall and repeat this process 2-3 times.

Building good breathing patterns

Focus on your breathing

So many of us climb and workout but never really pay attention to our breathing. I’ve caught myself holding my breath while working out, which is a very very bad practice and 100% not recommended by trainers across all sports.

We often neglect this aspect of climbing, but practicing breathing is essential to performance. Breathing correctly helps you avoid injury, optimize oxygen supply, and ultimately improves performance. Breathing incorrectly can put stress on your blood vessels and strain the muscles as well. To practice breathing properly, we first need to pay mindful attention to our breathing pattern.

Main benefits: Injury prevention and increased performance.

Example workout: Pick 1-2 climbs that are moderately challenging. Climb with an increased focus on your breath. Look out for poor breathing patterns such as holding your breath or uneven breathing. Incorporate good breathing techniques such as

  • Exhaling when exerting force and inhaling when relaxed.
  • Keeping a rhythm through breaths in and out
  • Slowing down the pace to catch your breath


Adding Autobelays to Your Climbing Session:

Great! Now that I’m starting to fall in love with autobelays, show me how to incorporate it into my sessions.

  1. Autobelays before a bouldering session: What a good way to get the blood pumping before some hard sends! Use autobelays as a 10-15 minute warm-up. Start from easy climbs to more moderate climbs. Doing this warms up the whole body and the fingers. It’s an excellent way to start your session and avoid injuries.
  2. Autobelay as a part of your climbing session: As mentioned above, there are so many ways to use autobelays to your advantage. Pick any of the workout ideas above and mix it up with your session! What an awesome way to add variety into climbing sessions.
  3. Autobelay to end your session: For many of us, we know the end of a session approaches when all strength and skin on our finger-tips have left the body. There really is no more power left to send projects, so why not use this time to cool down and work on endurance? Spending the end of the session doing some autobelay endurance is a great way to suck up the last bit of energy inside us. And then we can leave the gym with pumped forearms feeling extra good.

Wanna try more autobelays?

Hub Markham has 22 autobelays and Hub Mississauga has 32 units. Hub Mississauga is the biggest rock climbing gym in the entire GTA!

Hub’s autobelay orientation for new climbers

We’re a beginner-friendly gym with large areas dedicated to new climbers. Hub expert staff will orient you to how to put on your harness, how to build the safety habits around using the autobelay.

Book a session today!

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-Serena G,
Guest Contributor, Dec 2020

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