Project Description

Date: May 29th, 2019

trainingbeta podcast



About Kyle Lindsay

Kyle Lindsay is a 30-year-old climber out of Orem, Utah who recently sent his first handful of 5.13a’s after rethinking his training. He’s been climbing for about 6 years, and had plateaued at 5.11 or 5.12 for a while. In 2017 he made a goal of sending 50 5.12’s outside in a year, which he did, but 5.13 seemed out of reach to him. After listening to episodes of this podcast and reading a lot about training and mindset changes, he changed up how he was spending his time in the gym and outside. He sent his first and second 5.13a in September and October of 2018. He’s now on a rampage with big goals for this year.

Kyle has a full-time job as a sales engineer for a software company and it requires him to travel a lot. We talked about how he juggles his climbing and training passion with his busy work schedule.

I talked to Kyle about what exactly he changed in his training, why he made the changes, and what he’ll do differently in the future. We also talked about his diet and did a little problem solving about why he feels hungry all the time. It was a bit of a mini nutrition session at the end there.

Kyle recently sent another 13a a couple weeks ago, and he’s looking forward to sending more 13a’s and a couple 13b’s this year. You can follow him on Instagram @kzlindsay.

Kyle Lindsay Interview Details

  • How my interview with Paige Claassen helped him believe he could climb 5.13
  • How he manages to climb and train even though he works full-time and travels a lot
  • How intimidation was a barrier to even trying a 5.13
  • What my interview with Steve Bechtel taught him about endurance training
  • How his nutrition helped his climbing
  • Our mini nutrition session troubleshooting his constant hunger
  • Typical training week for him

Kyle Lindsay Links 

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Photo by of Kyle on the  crux of Malvado (his first 13a redpoint) in American Fork Canyon, Utah


Neely Quinn: Welcome to the TrainingBeta podcast where I talk with climbers and trainers about how we can get a little better at our favorite sport. I’m your host, Neely Quinn, and I want to remind you that the TrainingBeta podcast is an offshoot of the website which I created to have a space that’s completely dedicated to training for climbing. 

Over there you’ll find training programs, blog posts that are done by trainers and climbers in our community, we have training videos, and I do nutrition consulting with people – specifically climbers – to optimize your diet to help you climb and recover better. Matt Pincus does online training with climbers all over the world and he will create individualized programs for people who are trying to reach a climbing goal. 

You can find all of that at and you can find us on social media at TrainingBeta and we also have a training forum on Facebook. It’s a community page and you can find that at

On today’s episode I talked with Kyle Lindsay out of Orem, Utah. He’s a 30-year old climber who’s been climbing for six years. A long time ago – well, months ago – I asked people for suggestions for people who broke into the 5.13 grade through training and changing up what they were doing. This is one of those people who was suggested to me. We started talking a little bit and he seemed to be a really perfect fit for this kind of interview that I wanted to do because what I wanted to hear was from people who were not just natural or immediately got into the 5.13 grade after a couple years of climbing. I wanted to see people who were plateaued at 5.11 or 5.12 and then trained their way into 5.13, which is exactly what he did.

He actually had a goal of sending 50 5.12s in 2017, which he did. He didn’t even think it was possible for him to climb 5.13 but he listened to this podcast and did a bunch of other training research. He took some nuggets of information and advice from some of the interviewees on my podcast, which is really cool for me to hear, and he put those into use and he sent his first 5.13a in September of last year, 2018, and then his second 5.13a in October of the same year, so a month later.

I just got an email from him a couple of weeks ago saying he had done another one and that he’s just so psyched for this year and he’s got a lot of goals.

This interview is, I think, really good in my opinion just because Kyle is really well spoken and he was very clear about what he did and what he changed. You’ll get to hear about his training schedule and all of that and how he manages to get outside a lot even though he works a lot and travels. It’s kind of cool for that reason, too. Then we also talked a lot about his nutrition, which he said really helped him become a better climber. It was funny because it ended up being a little bit of a mini session between me and him about his nutrition because while his diet is good, there were a few things that I thought maybe he could tweak to make it even better so that was a little something different in there at the end.

I hope you enjoy this interview. Here is Kyle Lindsay and I’ll talk to you on the other side.

Neely Quinn: Welcome to the show, Kyle. Thanks very much for talking with me today.

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah, thanks for having me.

Neely Quinn: For anybody who doesn’t know you, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Kyle Lindsay: I’m assuming there’s a lot who don’t know me [laughs] but I’m 30 years old. My name is Kyle Lindsay. I’m living in Orem, Utah, so about 30 minutes south of Salt Lake City. I have a pretty exhaustive job. It makes me travel a lot but I like to climb.

Neely Quinn: Cool. What do you do in Salt Lake? What is your job? Or not Salt Lake – Orem.

Kyle Lindsay: It’s a little south. It’s actually a good spot to be in because I’m an hour 45 from Joe’s Valley, 20 minutes from American Fork Canyon, so there’s a lot of good places around. I’m a sales engineer. I’m kind of the go-between between our development team at a software company I work at and the sales team. I travel a lot with the sales leaders and try to sell software.

Neely Quinn: Nice. You said that you travel a lot?

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah, almost once a week I’m on a trip anywhere between 24-48 hours.

Neely Quinn: That is legitimately a lot of travel.

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah. I’ve been getting better at saying no, like, “No, I’m going to stay.”

Neely Quinn: You can do that at jobs? [laughs]

Kyle Lindsay: I mean, I’m trying.

Neely Quinn: That’s actually good to hear because I feel like we just go to our jobs and we just do what we’re told to do but you’re kind of wanting to stay at home. For what reasons?

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah, just so I can climb more, you know? Just train more and hang out with people and friends. I’m in Louisville, Kentucky right now and there’s nothing here. [laughs] Not to badmouth Louisville, but nothing here for me right now.

Neely Quinn: Right. Because you’re on a short trip it’s not like you can just skip down to the Red.

Kyle Lindsay: Exactly.

Neely Quinn: That probably happens a lot where you’re in a place where – there’s a gym in Louisville, right?

Kyle Lindsay: There is. I was going to check it out. We’re going to go out for dinner with customers tonight but I was thinking maybe in the morning I could go and hit up the gym for a little bit.

Neely Quinn: Is that something that you can do on a lot of the trips that you go on?

Kyle Lindsay: Sometimes, which is nice, but not all the time.

Neely Quinn: I’m laying into you with these questions right off the bat. [laughs] I know that’s funny but it’s interesting. I think a lot of people have really crazy schedules and a lot of people travel and so I’ll be interested to ask you more questions about how you make that work in your training.

So, we got hooked up because I asked for people to volunteer to be on the podcast who were plateaued at 5.11 or 5.12 and then broke into 5.13. You emailed me and it very much sparked my interest so why don’t you tell me a little bit about that?

Kyle Lindsay: I think you did it on Facebook and I don’t get on Facebook much but my friends do and I had a friend or two who tagged me in it. I didn’t notice it and I was at the gym the other day, a few months ago, and a friend was like, ‘Dude, did you see that post?’ I was like, ‘Oh, yeah. I’ll give Neely a quick little email,’ and I thought it would be fun to just talk a little bit about some of the things I have done to kind of break out of 5.11/5.12 and into 5.13. I just sent my first 5.13a last September-ish and then I did another one right after, in October.

Neely Quinn: Nice. Good job! Congratulations.

Kyle Lindsay: Thanks.

Neely Quinn: This is after having plateaued?

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah, so I was chatting with a friend over the weekend. We went down to southern Utah and we were talking a little bit about this. He was the one who actually brought up the podcast to me and so we kind of started going through my history.

I started climbing in about 2012 and ticked my 5.11 in about 2013, so that jump was pretty quick for me. Then I didn’t really know how to train or anything and eventually I ended up ticking my first 12a in 2014 so that was four years before I ticked my first 5.13. That being said, I did take little breaks here and there, climbing here and there, and I didn’t really start training until about two years ago.

Neely Quinn: Okay, and what happened two years ago? What had you done? I know you said you had done your first 12a but were you doing a lot of them? Was it a regular thing? Or was that like the tippy-top of your ability?

Kyle Lindsay: That was like a four-bolt slab.

Neely Quinn: [laughs] Okay.

Kyle Lindsay: So not the most intense 12a tick out there. There’s definitely more harrowing ascents to be had. I had done just a handful of 12’s up until about two years ago, about 2016. Kind of the middle to end of 2016. I had just done a handful of 12 minuses here and there and they were pretty sporadic, few and far in between. I wasn’t training a lot so I really wanted to get more serious about training for climbing and sending more. 

I came up with this crazy goal for 2017 to do 50 5.12’s

Neely Quinn: Which is awesome.

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah, I figured a lot of volume would get me an awesome base to do whatever I wanted to do in the future. I really wanted to get that goal because whenever I approached a 5.12 at that point I was so scared. I was like, ‘I don’t think I can do this. I don’t know how it’s going to work out.’ I wanted to, at the end, be able to walk up to any 12- and have the same confidence that I’d have coming up to an 11 or a 10 and being able to do that with confidence.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, that’s a lot of forethought. I mean, that’s what it takes, right? Having a lot of practice on them.

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah, and I think there’s something to be said. You listen, you watch the videos, you listen to the pros – like that video from Chris Sharma a few years ago when he was like, ‘I never trained. I didn’t even know how to train.’ He’s amazing, right? But at some point all of us need to learn how to train somehow but I did think that a lot of climbing was a really good growth period for me.

Neely Quinn: And did you do it?

Kyle Lindsay: I did. I did 51 in 2017.

Neely Quinn: [laughs] That’s so cool. My question, because I knew this coming into the interview and I was like, ‘Fifty-one 5.12’s. If I tried to do that in Boulder…’ because most of the time you were probably in Utah, right?

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah.

Neely Quinn: You’d have to be pretty methodical about mapping that out, right? Did you just map them all out?

Kyle Lindsay: I mean, there were a couple repeats but I actually stopped counting a couple repeats because one became my warmup, actually.

Neely Quinn: Oh okay, you just did it 51 times?

Kyle Lindsay: [laughs] No, more than or close to 60% were new ascents.

Neely Quinn: Okay yeah, that’s awesome.

Kyle Lindsay: In kind of mapping it out, I live 20 minutes away from American Fork Canyon and it has I believe over 200 5.12s.

Neely Quinn: Oh wow. I didn’t know that.

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah, there was a little EPIC TV of an acquaintance of mine, James Simmons. He was trying to do every single 5.12 and he thought there was under 100 and then he talked to a developer and he was like, ‘Oh, there’s over 200 of them.’ So I knew that there were a lot in the area.

Neely Quinn: So you’re really good at climbing 5.12 in American Fork.

Kyle Lindsay: [laughs] That’s true, that’s true. There are a couple in southern Utah. In Saint George there are some a little softer than others, depending on where you go. I did a couple in Wild Iris on a little trip there. A couple – one or two – in Idaho as well.

Neely Quinn: Oh, so all over the place.

Kyle Lindsay: But mostly American Fork.

Neely Quinn: It seems like with the goal of being able to walk up to any 5.12 and just have confidence with it, do you feel like you achieved that?

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah. By the end I was and am now a little frustrated if I don’t flash or onsight a 12-.

Neely Quinn: Are you talking about only 12-’s or how high did you go up into the 12s?

Kyle Lindsay: That’s a good question. I wanted to build a solid pyramid so obviously there were more minuses than plusses, right? I did want a fair amount of c’s and d’s in there so there are a fair amount of those in that breakdown of 51. Then going into early 2018 there are a fair amount of 12+’s in there as well.

Neely Quinn: Which is a pretty big jump from what you had done before, like doing your first 12c or d was probably a big deal to you.

Kyle Lindsay: It was but there are a couple crags that have a’s, b’s, and c’s right next to them so you can do one and then you’re like, ‘Well, there’s one right next to it so I might as well do that one,’ and I got to the point at the end, when I stopped counting the repeats, that I did a 12a, 12b, and a 12c in a day.

Neely Quinn: Nice.

Kyle Lindsay: Which was pretty cool. It was fun.

Neely Quinn: What about the fear factor?

Kyle Lindsay: That’s perfect because I think that there are a few things that I really learned and that really sparked me to inspire me to think like, ‘Oh, 5.13 is attainable. It’s approachable.’ When I started the goal I didn’t really have the goal. When I started the goal of 50 5.12s, 5.13 wasn’t really on my mind but near the end I started thinking, ‘Maybe 13 is not as far as I thought.’ 

Not to product place too much but listening to your podcast and other podcasts kind of inspired me, for sure the one that was in the fall-ish of 2017 when you talked to Paige Claassen about her ascent of the Eye of Odin. She said a few things that kind of really blew my mind. First of all, I think she said – I think it was her or something I read – that she picks a project almost a full number above her flash level. She had picked the Eye of Odin, a 14c, and I realized I had onsighted 12b so I was like, ‘Why am I just trying to take 12+’s? I should obviously be going into the 13s.’ 

Then she said another thing that really threw me over the edge. When she said that that project in particular, she couldn’t even do all the moves until a few days into projecting. I don’t think any of me or any of my other friends had ever jumped on a route, thrown ourselves at something way above our limit, and actually stuck with it. We usually hit a move we can’t do and then we lower off and we’re like, ‘Well, that thing is contrived,’ or ‘That thing is way beyond me.’ You know? I’ve done that so many times. 

Neely Quinn: ‘That’s a stupid route.’ [laughs]

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah, like, ‘The bolts are in the wrong spot, the holds must have broken, something like that,’ which in America, happens all the time. 

Neely Quinn: So that was really new to you.

Kyle Lindsay: Oh totally. That really opened up my mind that 5.13 wasn’t as far away from me and I think the first thing that I trained indirectly – I didn’t realize I was training it – was my mind. Not only was I inspired to think beyond 5.12 but then the volume really made me get over any fear of falling that I had and taught me how to relax. If I have a goal of either repeating or most likely getting a new route every week, I don’t have time to worry about falling.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, it is every week. I didn’t really think about it like that. You had to go outside all the time.

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah, and the nice thing about AF Canyon and a couple other canyons in Salt Lake is that they are higher elevation and they’re north facing so you can actually climb in the summer and it’s decently cold.

Neely Quinn: So you worked up the courage, basically, to try a 5.13.

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah. At the end of 2017 I decided to try one and it was in the Hell Cave, which in the 80’s was really big. Boone Speed and a couple other guys were throwing down up there. I thought I would give one a shot but it was easier to tell myself in my mind, ‘Oh, 13 is not that far away from me,’ and then to actually try it was really intimidating. The Hell Cave, locally, is a pretty intense place. There’s graffiti, there’s glued on holds, it’s greasy.

Neely Quinn: [laughs] Sounds great.

Kyle Lindsay: I actually love it for that reason. It was intimidating because it was super steep as well and then most of the routes end near the same spot. You have people like Dalton Bunker who did an FA there a year or two ago and other really strong 13+/5.14 climbers. I remember the first time I tried it there was a group of really strong dudes just hanging out and I’m flailing on this thing. I jumped on Melting. It’s the easiest route in the whole cave. It’s 5.13a and I felt really dumb that I was playing on this thing and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. All these guys are looking at me and they realize that I’m not that strong and I’m just a wimp.’

I lowered off and some of those crushers were like, ‘Hey, how’s it going?’ I kind of asked them for beta and they asked me how it was feeling and I was like, ‘You know what? I just felt like I was flailing the whole time.’ They said, “Is there any move you can’t do?” I was like, ‘No, I can do all the moves.’ They were like, ‘Well then it’s just a matter of time before you do it.’ That just kind of reaffirmed the things I had had some confidence on but putting it into practice was hard. To say, “Hey, I can do all the moves my first go. I can do this thing.”

Neely Quinn: Like you’re a step beyond where Paige even was for the first few times she got on it. You were like, ‘Oh yeah, I can definitely do this thing. I can do all the moves first try.’

Kyle Lindsay: [laughs] Yeah, so that was pretty wild to realize that I wasn’t as far as I felt and kind of getting that feedback from other people and encouragement, I think was really helpful as well.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, I think that what you brought up about trying something that’s really hard for you in front of people who you really respect and know are stronger than you are, it is super intimidating. I think it’s a block for a lot of people and so for you to get that positive reinforcement from them was probably really helpful for you.

Kyle Lindsay: Definitely. It even happened over the weekend. I was just down in the Grail in northern Arizona and then went to Sunset Alley in the Utah Hills and there were some strong guys trying this 13b. They were trying really hard and my partner was like, ‘Why don’t you try that thing?’ I was like, ‘I don’t know. I haven’t really put that much time into a 13b,’ then I did all the moves my first go.

Neely Quinn: Nice!

Kyle Lindsay: And I was like, ‘Holy crap! Maybe I could do this thing, too.’ You know?

Neely Quinn: Yeah. What ended up happening? You did send a 13a, actually two of them, so how did that go?

Kyle Lindsay: It went well. The other barrier to entry that was opened up is the hardest 12d that I did shares the same first two bolts as my first 5.13.

Neely Quinn: Perfect.

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah. It’s just right next to the Hell Cave. It’s the El Diablo wall and I had tried Malvado. I mean, one of the local developers said of the 12d, “Put that in almost any other canyon and it’s 13a but just because it’s next to Malvado, which is a little bit harder, it gets the 12d.” I was like, ‘Woah. Maybe I should just try that one first because I have the bottom boulder problem figured out,’ but I realized I couldn’t just train my mind. I had to obviously step up my training a little bit more.

Neely Quinn: So what happened?

Kyle Lindsay: Typically, when I was going to the gym before, a little bit before the whole goal of the 50 5.12s, I’d just go and have fun with friends. That’s what I think a lot of me and my friends do at the gym. We’d be like, ‘Oh, let’s try this problem. Let’s try this route,’ and so forth but I didn’t really train. I didn’t really know how to train and I would just find my friends who were on some training kick and I would try to train with them.

I had one friend who had got a little training plan from Camp 4 Human Performance in Salt Lake and it was very loose. It was just a little idea. The idea was: try routes way above your limit and try routes way below your limit so, we started doing that. I started doing that right before I started the goal of 50 5.12s and I actually felt a little bit stronger when I was doing routes and problems that were way above my limit. I eventually started getting more of the moves and I was able to rest a little bit more because we were doing stuff below our limit.

Fast-forward to last summer. As I was trying to ramp up to the 5.13 goal, you had Steve Bechtel on your podcast. I’ll take the sponsorship money from you another time. [laughs]

Neely Quinn: I’ll get right on that.

Kyle Lindsay: Perfect. Steve Bechtel, last summer – I’m not going to get it right. I’m not an expert at all on this stuff and he is so people should definitely read his book. I’m reading one of his ebooks right now. When he talked about, ‘You should stop training 4×4’s at your onsight or flash level,’ for me that would be V5 or V6. ‘Instead, train more limit bouldering and limit routes,’ which he explains kind of expands that anaerobic – I think it’s the alactic anaerobic system – and then easy route climbing, like two number grades below your redpoint level or something. That expands your aerobic capacity.

I didn’t realize at the time but what I was doing was training limit boulders, limit routes, and then really easy stuff. He kind of goes off and Steve talks about it even more and you understand a little bit of the science behind it. That’s what I noticed in the 5.13s that I was doing. I would do a really hard boulder problem and then I would find a way to rest and then I would do another little boulder problem and then find a way to rest and so forth.

Neely Quinn: Right, so you’re kind of using both of those things in the route itself.

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah. I think that really helped me as well, training that way. Obviously there’s way – I probably need to get even more programmatic in the type of training that I’m doing but I think that had a big effect for me, being able to rest and do hard boulders.

Neely Quinn: So just to clarify, because we’re talking about basically ARC-ing, right? And then we’re talking about limit routes. I’m wondering when were you doing these things? I’m assuming you weren’t doing them on the same day but you tell me.

Kyle Lindsay: Sometimes. I’ll warm up on – kind of the way I’ve been doing it for a while is warming up on some easy ARC-ing and then start doing a longer warm-up of some easy boulders or easy routes and then I’ll jump into doing some limit bouldering. With my limited time I don’t have a ton of time to just hang out and do whatever so I’ll try really hard to do some limit boulders and stuff. Then he mentioned that you can actually ARC at the end so three or four routes that are pretty easy for you. I haven’t had a problem with that at all, just easy ARC-ing on about three routes or so or just trying to stay on a scatter board or something like that for a long time. I have been doing those on the same day.

Neely Quinn: When you say “ARC-ing” and you’re saying sometimes you do it on a “scatter board or spray board” where you’re just on the wall, for how long?

Kyle Lindsay: Anywhere from 10-20 minutes.

Neely Quinn: And then if you’re doing it on routes, what would you do? Would you go up a route, lower real quick, then go back up it?

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah, probably about three times or so.

Neely Quinn: So that would be more like maybe five minutes on the wall?

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah.

Neely Quinn: Any other ways that you do it?

Kyle Lindsay: Sometimes I’ll climb up and down, just link easy boulder problems together as well. We don’t have a really good spray board at the Momentum that I go to/the gyms that I go to. Sometimes I’ll just climb up a 3 and down a 3 and up a 2 and down a 2 and try to emphasize good climbing technique, even though they’re pretty easy for me. Doing that for a little while is helpful.

Neely Quinn: I’ve been working with Bechtel on this, too. It was confusing for me whether or not I should be doing it quickly, if I should be out of breath at all, and he clarified to me that I should not be out of breath when I’m doing this. Is that what you were doing?

Kyle Lindsay: Definitely. Definitely well below my limit. Oftentimes here lately I’ll be on the phone, on my headphones or something like that, so I can have a real conversation.

Neely Quinn: It’s the ultimate test: can you have a conversation?

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah, and then my dad will be like, ‘Are you climbing right now?’ [laughs]

Neely Quinn: [laughs] That’s funny.

Kyle Lindsay: But yeah, I definitely recommend people to go either read his stuff or listen to that podcast of yours. It’s about training for endurance.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, he kind of blew my mind with that one, too.

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah, for sure.

Neely Quinn: How long are your sessions? You keep saying that your time is limited. How limited is it?

Kyle Lindsay: I mean, that’s probably too much. I don’t have a family so it would be more limited if that were the case. I’ll try to make them around an hour and a half to two hours or so. I’ll probably get in twice to three times a week. When I’m going outside, maybe once a week or twice a week and then going outside once or twice a week as well.

Neely Quinn: Sorry – so you’re in there 2-3 times a week and then what was the one time a week? I thought you were talking about going outside one time a week and then you said “going outside one or two times a week.”

So training, like right now in the winter, I’m going inside 2-3 times a week to train and not going outside much because we’ve been having some crazy snow here in Utah. When I’m able to go outside on a Saturday or something like that I’ll train probably once-to-twice inside a week and then I’ll actually try to get outside once or twice a week. 

Neely Quinn: Okay, got it. So an hour and a half to two hours, 2-3 times a week is not that much. You’re right. You’re going on six hours max of training per week, which is awesome.

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah, and I think the consistency is important, right? I have done the things where I’ve been like, ‘Oh man, I’ve been traveling so much,’ or ‘work has been crazy,’ and then I’ll go into the gym and I’ll rage against all the problems that I can touch and not be very focused in my training. If I do that and just play on boulders for three hours straight and I can’t even do a V5 at the end, I’m toast for at least two days. It’s fun for that three or four hours that you get to do it and by the end you kind of suck. If I stick to more of a training and I’m doing more regimented stuff like the limit boulders and ARC-ing, I don’t get burnt out so I do get a chance to recover much faster and that allows me to go outside more easily or be prepped for a weekend and stuff like that.

Neely Quinn: It sounds like you’ve discovered the way that your body works the best. Probably through some experimentation.

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah, exactly. Another thing I was thinking about as well is that I only recently started hangboarding. Maybe before a few weeks ago I’d only hangboarded 10 times or so, ever, so that’s something I’ve been exploring a little bit more. I was really unsure where to start because there’s max hangs and there’s repeaters, there’s all these different protocols out there so I’ve been dabbling in that a little bit and trying to find which one works best for me. I think ladders have been a nice place to start. That stuff is online so you can find that stuff. It’s been kind of interesting to see. I’m curious to see how hangboarding works out for me. 

Neely Quinn: Wait – ladders on hangboards? What is a ladder?

Kyle Lindsay: Again, I guess I’m just a big Steve Bechtel fan or something but he has a protocol and it seemed really approachable to me. I found it written on Climbing Magazine or Rock & Ice or one of those. What it was was three different hand positions on the same hold with three different durations of time and that’s a set. Just open hand on a small hold, I think you hold it for three seconds, and then you can rest for close to a minute. Then six seconds, rest for a minute, then nine seconds and rest for a minute. That’s a set and I’ll do three sets and then I’ll adjust. The only thing I change, because I don’t change the hold, is I just change the hand position from open hand to half crimp and I think he even says full crimp, which I was really nervous about but I’m just taking it as gospel, I guess. 

Neely Quinn: That’s really cool. I don’t think he’s ever talked about those on the podcast with me.

Kyle Lindsay: It may be old or something. I don’t know. I thought it was interesting when I read it and I’ve been reading part of his book and he recommended ladders. I can’t remember what his book is called.

Neely Quinn: Logical Progression?

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah. I think he mentioned ladders in there or a friend recommended it to me or something and so I looked it up and that’s what it was. It seemed really approachable because I did it before and it takes like 15 minutes.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, that’s convenient. You can do that at the end of your sessions.

Kyle Lindsay: Well actually, I’ll do it before. I’ll do a really long warmup and then I’ll do it and then I’ll do hard boulders, which may not be the best way to do it.

Neely Quinn: No, I’ve been hearing a lot about that lately.

Kyle Lindsay: That says that’s the best way to do it?

Neely Quinn: Well, that a lot of trainers are telling people to do that.

Kyle Lindsay: I’ve tried it at the end and I just feel gassed so starting at the beginning, like after a good warmup, has actually felt okay. It’s felt relatively easy.

Neely Quinn: Right, and then in terms of strict strength training, when you’re fresh is when you’re going to get the most gains so it does make sense.

Kyle Lindsay: So that’s good.

Neely Quinn: I want to go back to what you were doing before the 5.13 sends. Do you feel like you’re seeing gains with this hangboard protocol?

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah, I mean I’ve only been doing it a little bit but I actually did notice a little change. Yesterday I was up in Sunset Alley in the Utah Hills, which is an awesome, beautiful area. That 13b, I can’t remember what it’s called but it’s cool – my friend was like, ‘Oh, you should try that,’ and there were some guys working it and I didn’t really pay attention to their beta. I went up there and it had a really interesting move. The reason why I haven’t hangboarded much is because I feel like I can crimp pretty well but I’ve been noticing that I just full crimp and wrap my thumb over a ton, which I think is a blessing and a curse, right? It helps but it’s maybe not the best way to do it all the time.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, and you can’t do it that way all the time.

Kyle Lindsay: Exactly. That’s what I’ve been noticing. Sometimes I need to be open hand so that’s why I’ve been more interested in training it. There was a section, or two holds, that I for sure couldn’t do it on. Anyway, I had to make this big left hand move and grab this crimp, it had to be open hand, and then I grabbed this thumb catch as well. Before like a year ago, if I would have tried that I don’t think I would have held it but I actually felt like I could move off of that and it was pretty awesome.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, I mean that’s encouraging, right? You’re going to keep doing that I’m assuming.

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah, I’m going to try it. [laughs]

Neely Quinn: So let’s go back. You weren’t even hangboarding when you sent your first 13a. It’s not a prerequisite to hangboard to send your first 13a, which I think is interesting.

Kyle Lindsay: I didn’t feel like it was. I mean, I don’t think it would hurt. I think Eric Horst said that campusing and hangboarding shouldn’t be an activity for the relatively new climber, right? I think there was a lot of development that my tendons just went in over the years that I have been climbing and so now that’s the next logical progression for me, to start doing more of those activities. I could have done them a lot sooner but I was able to get by just wrapping crimps or just climbing for training.

Neely Quinn: So you felt like going into the gym and having this sort of plan in the short amount of time that you had between your easy routes, your limit boulders or routes, and then ARC-ing, that was enough? Were you doing any bodyweight exercises or anything on the side?

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah, that’s another huge area for me because my genes are such that I tend to put on weight pretty easily. Eating right is important and it’s hard because I really like sweets. I need to get your nutrition plan or something because I’m hungry every second of every day.

Neely Quinn: Oh yeah, we should talk about that. [laughs] It doesn’t have to be like that, Kyle. 

Kyle Lindsay: I’ve got to figure it out because I’m never not hungry.

Neely Quinn: Maybe we should spend five minutes at the end and talk about that. I think a lot of people have that.

Kyle Lindsay: That’d be awesome. So trying to eat right is important but another thing that I read – I can’t remember where so I’m probably stealing peoples’ IP but whatever – is the idea that I need to train my body as well. I heard somebody mention it this way: just because you can go up dynamically and hit a hold with your hand doesn’t mean you’re going to hold onto that hold. Your body is going to sag and your fingers can be super strong but the weight of your body could still pull you off. If there’s a way that you can go up more static to that move, hit that hold and have your hips, your butt, your legs, your core be strong enough to also support you and take a little weight off those fingers, that’s going to be super helpful as well.

Neely Quinn: Right. So what did that make you do?

Kyle Lindsay: There’s a couple of strong homies, strong guys, that I see at the gym and I’ll see them doing stuff like hinge lifts like deadlifts and so forth. I’ve kind of played around with some of those big muscle group lifts. 

Me and a friend used to drive to training – it used to be called Mountain Athlete I think it’s called Strong, Swift, Durable now or something. It’s a guy out of Montana or Wyoming, I can’t remember. I was familiar with those Olympic-style lifts like the front squat, the back squat, the power clean, hang clean, and the dead lift. I’ve been kind of doing a strength protocol and work capacity for those as well because I figured I need a strong core. The whole hinge lift makes sense to me as well because it’s partially core but also your legs. We climb with our fingers but we also climb with our legs as well so I do a fair amount of 80% one-rep max strength protocol of front squats, back squats, deadlifts, some cleans here and there to get dynamic movement, and then I’ll also do a fair amount of trail running and other work capacity things. I do a lot of push-ups because I used to have tendonitis in my elbows and I think the push exercises kind of help.

I noticed as I started to train my body a bit more that I became a little bit more of an overall athlete. I have friends who never workout and they have abs and strong cores and stuff and I’m like, ‘That’s not me.’ I have to really work at it to stay in good shape and I think it’s been helping.

Neely Quinn: Well it must be helping. It seems that everything you’re doing is working.

Kyle Lindsay: I hope so. It felt like it. I did the two 13s and I was actually close on two others right before the season ended last year. The big goal this is at least three more 13a’s, because I have two in my back pocket that I’ll feel I’m really close on, and then a 13b.

Neely Quinn: I mean, it seems that’s totally doable for you.

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah, I hope so.

Neely Quinn: I’d like to go back to your strength routine. What are your reps and sets like?

Kyle Lindsay: I probably should do a lot more reading on this but what I’ve heard from other people or done with other people is finding that one-rep max but in a safe way, with other people spotting me and so forth if I’m doing a squat. I think it’s 80% of that so you just calculate what is 80% of a one rep max and then I’ll do probably 6-8 reps of that.

Neely Quinn: And how many sets?

Kyle Lindsay: I only do about three, maybe sometimes four.

Neely Quinn: So you go through a circuit of them? Or do you just do one exercise at a time?

Kyle Lindsay: I’ll actually do a circuit of them. Luckily, the software company I work at has a little gym and it’s got squat racks and nobody is ever there.

Neely Quinn: You’re like, ‘You nerds are missing out.’

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah, exactly. I have it all to myself so it’s kind of nice from that perspective. It’s a nice little spot to do my own thing. I’ll kind of do a circuit of front squats and deadlifts and then I’ll sometimes follow that up with some push-ups or dips.

Neely Quinn: Are you resting in between or just kind of circuiting it for real?

Kyle Lindsay: You know what? I probably should read a bit more and explore what the different intervals and decreasing that rest time, kind of that high intensity training, would be like but I typically rest a good while.

Neely Quinn: I mean, that’s standard strength training, right?

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah.

Neely Quinn: Cool. You have a routine that you do. It sounds like you’re doing the weights and some of the body weight exercises when you’re not at the gym so are those on rest days or are those on climbing days and you’re just not doing it at the gym? The climbing gym.

Kyle Lindsay: That’s a good question. To be honest, I’m not as diligent as I want to be but I will do some, at least running or work capacity, thing where I’m doing lighter weights but more closely together. Kind of CrossFit stuff where I’m doing lighter weights at the same movements but I’m doing them really closely together. Or I’ll do a big circuit of cleans and squats and pull-ups and push-ups and burpees and stuff like that. I’ll do that probably twice a week, run once a week, and then I’ll do the strength once or twice a week. 

Neely Quinn: Can you actually run me through a week? What was your last week like?

Kyle Lindsay: Last week I climbed in the gym and I did ARC-ing one day. There were some friends who were new at climbing and I didn’t want to flex on them.

Neely Quinn: [laughs] That’s nice of you. 

Kyle Lindsay: I was like, ‘Oh, you guys are new to climbing. Great! Can you belay me on this 11a?’ They were like, ‘Woah! 11a.’

Neely Quinn: So you did flex on them.

Kyle Lindsay: I didn’t mean to. I would do it and they would lower me down and I was like, ‘Can I get two more goes really quick? I’ll be really fast.’

Neely Quinn: That was Monday or something?

Kyle Lindsay: That was Monday and then I followed up with a little bit of running. 

Neely Quinn: When you say, “a little bit of running,” how much running?

Kyle Lindsay: Just two miles. I used to run a lot so it’s relatively low for me. I don’t know if running detracts but I like doing it. It keeps [unclear] a little bit. Then the next day I did strength lifting, so that was Tuesday.

Neely Quinn: Just lifting, no climbing.

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah, just lifting and no climbing.

Neely Quinn: And that was at work?

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah, right after work. Then Wednesday I climbed and did some more limit boulders.

Neely Quinn: So you warmed up, did the limit boulders, went home?

Kyle Lindsay: Yep, and did a little bit of ARC-ing at the end on the spray board. Then Thursday I had to travel to Minneapolis so I ended up just running at the hotel and lifting a little bit of weights but nothing crazy. I was pretty tired.

Neely Quinn: Running on a treadmill at the hotel?

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah, and then I got back from Minneapolis and ended up not really doing much at all because we were heading out to northern Arizona, to the Arizona strip, and southern Utah for the weekend.

Neely Quinn: So you went for Saturday and Sunday, so you climbed both days? You had a rest on Friday and you just did a little bit of running and weights on Thursday? So that was a typical week because you were gone for two days. You climbed more than most people do, even though you traveled.

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah. 

Neely Quinn: [laughs] That’s pretty cool. 

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah, it was special. Everywhere was rainy but we found that the limestone in northern Arizona and southern Utah was good so we were like, ‘Let’s do it.’ I only did five pitches, I think. Four pitches, maybe, at the Grail on Saturday and then I only did four pitches on Sunday.

Neely Quinn: Maybe that sounds like a little bit to some people but I have found that with myself, it’s usually like you warm up on two routes, you get on your project two times, and then you’re usually tired, right?

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah.

Neely Quinn: And then maybe you’ll do a cool down or something to make it an even five. [laughs] 

Kyle Lindsay: That’s true.

Neely Quinn: Or if it’s a short project maybe you try it three times or if you have really great all-day endurance you try it three or more times but I think that four or five times is pretty normal.

Kyle Lindsay: I think so, too. We were just sampling some stuff. I’d only been at the Grail once and we had talked to Jordan Cannon and Brad Gobright for a minute. They were down there and I flailed on the classic 12b, on the crux, and I was like, ‘Let me just get off this because they want to get on it.’ I probably would have tried it more but I only tried it once.

Neely Quinn: That’s actually good to know, too. Even though you’re sending 13a’s you’re still having a hard time sometimes on some 12s, right?

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah, and that one was really tricky to unlock the beta. I went in and I was like, ‘I’m going to flash this thing.’ Vesper is beautiful. It looks like something out of the Verdon Gorge. It’s beautiful and I was like, ‘Okay, I’m going to flash this thing.’ I got a little bit of beta from some other guys that tried it but they didn’t really tell me anything about the crux. I cruised up to the crux and then I fell on it and had to try it about three more times before I got it.

Neely Quinn: How did you feel about that?

Kyle Lindsay: [laughs] I was a little disappointed and I was probably putting myself under a little bit of pressure because those pros were sitting down there watching me.

Neely Quinn: Right. It sucks sometimes.

Kyle Lindsay: I wasn’t super psyched that I didn’t do it but it was pretty tricky. For me to actually get it I had to work out that crux move. Actually, it was kind of cool. That’s one thing I didn’t mention as well in kind of my development over the past few years. The end of that route is all jamming. You pull this lip and you have this mini jug to grab, you hike your feet up, and then you go and you get a hand jam. That was crucial.

Sport climbing is my main focus but I do go outside and boulder quite a lot as well. I’ve been really interested in trad climbing as well. We have Little Cottonwood nearby, Indian Creek as well, so I’ve tried to be pretty active in all three. 

Neely Quinn: So that probably helped with that 12b.

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah, it definitely did at the very end and I think it’s helped just my mind and kind of getting over the fear, like getting scared on some desert tower and being like, ‘Okay, I just have to keep going because I don’t know if that piece is going to blow,’ because there’s some really chossy rock here.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, I’m assuming that makes your head better on sport climbs where you’re like, ‘I am above a bolt, first of all, and it’s not even that far away relative to some other things that I’ve done.’ Is that true?

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah, for sure. I see my friends – and I love them to death but – sometimes I see their movement above a bolt and they’re shaky, they’re not finding their feet how they should be, and I’m like, ‘I know if you were two feet off the ground in a gym you would feel so comfortable.’ I’m really grateful that I’ve put myself through a lot or I’ve just thrown myself at a lot so that I was able to somewhat get over that, so I think it’s helped.

Neely Quinn: And I wanted to ask you one other thing about your kind of mindset. In your email you said to me that you were trying to pick a 13a – your first 13a – and you were like, ‘I could have done these two that are a lot of peoples’ first 13a’s but they suited my style really well so instead I did these things that were harder for me.’ Can you explain that a little bit?

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah. A lot of the guys who I’ll see at the Hell area in American Fork I’d ask them, “What’s a good 13a?” There’s one called X and it was the first 13 in American Fork, done by Boone Speed. It suits my style. It’s perfectly vertical, it’s all crimpy with small feet and so forth, and I was like, ‘I could do that one,’ but I decided to try something that would push me a little bit more. 

Malvado was my first one. It’s only 40-feet tall, maybe, so it’s really bouldery. There are some rests but it’s more power endurance-y where you really only get two little rests and you’re going in between. The other one was in the cave, in the proper cave of Hell, called Melting. It’s steep almost the entire time until you get up into a crack and you do a little traverse. I thought it would be fun to try and I thought it would push me and so it was almost taking a little of that training outside, to trying stuff that was above my limit.

Neely Quinn: Right. You had already gotten used to trying things that were above your limit and dealing with the failure inside. It seemed to work for you outside.

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah, I think so. I remember trying Melting. It’s steep, it’s got two dynos in it, and I’m not particularly good at jumping. [laughs] When they set those in the gym I’m like, ‘Ugh, I don’t want to do that. I might break my ankle or something.’ I thought it would be fun to try. I just saw people do the first big jump and I thought, ‘Oh, that looks so cool,’ so I tried it and it took me – actually, I was still 50% on the second jump where you jump horizontally to a slopey jug and get a kneebar in.

Neely Quinn: Geez. Sounds awkward.

Kyle Lindsay: It’s really, really cool. There is some secret beta that I learned after the fact. You can do a drop knee.

Neely Quinn: Woah. Spoiler alert.

Kyle Lindsay: [laughs] Yeah, sorry. I was still only 50% on the second jump until I got it. When I got it I was getting up to more like 70% on the second jump but it was still hard. It was really fun and now I feel a little bit more suited to try some of those other jumpy moves and steep stuff. 

Neely Quinn: I mean, I think the lesson learned here for everybody, including myself, is when you put yourself out there and you’re willing to fail on something that you know you’re not going to be comfortable with then you’re more likely to learn and the sending will probably taste that much better.

Kyle Lindsay: When my friend was belaying me on my first 13, Molvado, I kind of freaked out at the top and was super stoked. He’s way strong and he said he had never heard somebody celebrate that much. It was probably too much. [laughs]

Neely Quinn: That’s awesome! That’s why we do it, right?

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah, it’s been really fun.

Neely Quinn: Cool, well our time – not that there’s a time limit on this but I do like to keep it to an hour. We do have a few minutes left and if you do want to talk about that nutrition stuff I think it would be really interesting.

Kyle Lindsay: I would love to. 

Neely Quinn: First, I’m curious about how you said you’re prone to gaining weight pretty easily. What have you figured out that keeps you lean? Or are you as lean as you want to be?

Kyle Lindsay: I think I’m in a good spot. Maybe I have some things I need to go over just in my mind. I’m about 5’7” and I weigh about 135 pounds so I’m fine, but I’ve been up to 160 before which is a little bit higher. That was nine years ago or so but what I kind of decided is that for me, at least, I didn’t cut carbs totally out of my life because I can’t but I try to just eat as many vegetables and protein as I can. Recently I’m not just focused on something like vegetarianism but I am trying to take a little bit more care for the environmental and ethical reasons, just being a little less focused on meat. Primarily, protein and good fibrous vegetables is pretty good for me.

Neely Quinn: What’s your protein source, then?

Kyle Lindsay: It’s still a fair amount of chicken but I’ll do a lot of eggs as well. I’m really good at breakfast foods, which is fun, and quinoa and some other grains and garbanzo beans. Chickpeas have been pretty good as well.

Neely Quinn: Okay, so what will you eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? What did you do yesterday?

Kyle Lindsay: Yesterday I was at the crag but a typical one would be – well, that’s the other thing. I work at a software company and so they just give me so much food all the time. Give up your salary for food. Typically, in the morning I’ll have a protein bar or some nuts and seeds and stuff. For lunch will be a salad, usually, with some protein in it like chicken or chickpeas or something. I’d say for dinner it will usually be something similar but just a slightly higher quantity so just a bigger salad or eggs with beans or something like a bigger salad with a bunch more protein.

Neely Quinn: Do you put fat on the salads?

Kyle Lindsay: I will put some fat. There’s this place that I love and I go there so much they give me the friends and family discount. [laughs] Usually that salad – it’s kind of a Hispanic salad – but they don’t put any beans or rice in it and I’ll put not a ton of dressing on it but I will put the ranch dressing that they give, or if I’m making my own salad I’ll put some oil and balsamic on there.

Neely Quinn: What about snacks?

Kyle Lindsay: That’s a problem. I don’t think that I snack enough so I get crazy hungry and then I make poor choices.

Neely Quinn: So what are your snacks?

Kyle Lindsay: Snacks are usually nuts or cereal sometimes.

Neely Quinn: Cereal with milk?

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah. It’s usually not something that great. It will often be like Pro Bars or Kind Bars, whatever they have in the office. 

Neely Quinn: So bars or nuts or something like that. What do you drink?

Kyle Lindsay: I don’t drink any soda or anything like that. I have been thinking about getting a meal replacement shake or a protein shake to have more often but it’s usually just water.

Neely Quinn: And coffee?

Kyle Lindsay: I don’t really drink coffee but tea, I’ll drink tea.

Neely Quinn: Well, I feel like I’m with a client right now. My first suggestion is to make your breakfast much much much bigger and have it include at least 30 grams of protein in it. Whether that means that you just add a whey protein drink to your breakfast or you start having chicken or a few eggs with a little bit of chicken or turkey bacon or something like that and then vegetables and some starch. I would say have your starch, some protein, and a good amount of fat in the morning because you’re primed to receive it then. That sets you up to not be hungry all day. It assuages your body’s blood sugar issues in the morning.

Then you have your lunch. I’d like to see how many calories and how much protein is actually in your lunch salads but make sure that it has 4-6 ounces of protein in it. I like that you’re doing chickpeas because it gives you some carbs in there and a little bit of protein. Then your dinner seems fine as long as you’re having an adult-sized serving of protein. 

If you need a snack, and you probably won’t have as many cravings for snacks if you eat a ton in the morning, you could have something between lunch and dinner. If you don’t have the whey protein in the morning you could have that as a snack with a banana or if it’s sweetened, that’s fine, because you need some more protein and some more carbs. That should help you. Nuts and seeds are these super calorie-dense things but they don’t actually fill you up or do anything substantial to your blood sugar so think more. Your Pro Bars aren’t bad and your Kind Bars aren’t bad but just think: ‘Does this snack have a protein source, a fat source, and a carb source in it? A substantial one?’ and just pick and choose. Like, ‘I’m going to have a cheese stick with a piece of avocado and a banana,’ or something and that’s your snack.

Kyle Lindsay: Cool. Thanks. That sounds like a cool mixture.

Neely Quinn: Right? There are all kinds of mixtures just like that. I’d be interested to see if you do make changes if it helps you. What do you think about that?

Kyle Lindsay: That makes way more sense because I’ll eat that little breakfast and I’ll be dead and so hungry and I feel like I need more. I’m just scared because I feel like I do put on weight a bit more easily.

Neely Quinn: Totally. I know. It’s always people’s go-to, to be like, ‘My breakfast is going to be smaller and that will set me up for the rest of the day.’ It’s actually opposite because if you do what I just said, you’re actually front loading your calories then you’re using them properly throughout the day with your carbs, then your dinner is really light on carbs, and then you have the whole evening to get into fat burning mode. The whole night of sleep. 

I would log everything for a few days in MyFitnessPal and just see what you’re doing currently, or some calorie logging program, and then just go from there. If you want to do that and send it to me I’m happy to take a look at it but I think you’re a perfect example because so many of my clients are exactly the same as you. That was really cool to go through. 

Kyle Lindsay: This is helpful. I’m going to give it a shot.

Neely Quinn: Well, I think I’ve asked you all the questions. Is there anything that you wanted to add about your experience?

Kyle Lindsay: No, I just do want to emphasize that I am not an expert at all. I’m just a guy who happened to do a couple things that kind of worked for me. I hear a lot of people are doing a lot of cool stuff and I think what they’re doing is cool. Find what works best for you.

Neely Quinn: Right, and your training will probably evolve over time, too.

Kyle Lindsay: Oh yeah.

Neely Quinn: Thank you for sharing your story. I really appreciate it and think a lot of other people will, too.

Kyle Lindsay: Yeah, I’m psyched. I’ll let you know when I tick that 13b.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, I’ll update the audience when you do. Good luck.

Kyle Lindsay: Perfect. Thanks. 

Neely Quinn: Alright, take care.

Kyle Lindsay: Thanks, Neely. 

Neely Quinn: I hope you enjoyed that interview with Kyle Lindsay. You can follow him on Instagram @kzlindsay and he posts things about his climbing progress and successes. Hopefully he will reach his goals this year. I know he has already begun that process and so thanks so much for the interview, Kyle, and congratulations to you.

Coming up on the podcast I just did an interview with Sierra Blair-Coyle today. I’ve never talked to her before so it was really cool to get to know her. Hopefully you’ll enjoy that interview. It should be out next week. 

Other than that, I’m still taking nutrition clients. You can find that at and Matt Pincus is still taking online training clients. You can see more about that at If you want to join our training community on Facebook you can go to There are thousands of people over there talking all about rock climbing training and asking each other questions and getting really great advice.

I think that’s all I’ve got for you today. You can follow us on Instagram @trainingbeta. Thanks for listening all the way to the end and I’ll talk to you next week.


TrainingBeta is a site dedicated to training for rock climbing. We provide resources and information about training for routes, bouldering, finger strength, mental training, nutrition for climbers, and everything in between. We offer climbing training programs, climbing training classes, nutrition classes, regular blog posts, interviews on The TrainingBeta Podcast, personal coaching for climbing, and nutrition for climbers.

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