Project Description

Date: Aug 1st, 2018

trainingbeta podcast



About Leif Gasch

Leif Gasch is an old friend of mine who’s married to one of my first climbing idols, Lindsay Dunnum-Gasch. I was hanging out with Leif and Lindsay at the International Climbers’ Festival in Lander, Wy this year and we started talking about his evolution with training and climbing over the past few years. He went from being a 5.13a/b and sometimes c climber to sending his first 5.14b (with ease) after experimenting a LOT with different training modalities and working with different well-known trainers. He finally figured out what worked for his body and his schedule, and then he executed. I was inspired.

I asked him to be on the podcast because he not only represents the idea that you can uncover the perfect training program for your body, but he also proves that even if you have a full-time job (as an electrician doing manual labor, no less), and even if you’re in your late 30’s (he’s 38), you can still crush hard routes.

Leif Gasch Interview Details

  • What he learned from doing the Anderson brothers’ program
  • What he learned doing a Steve Maisch program
  • What he learned training with Dan Mirsky
  • What he learned training with Kris Hampton
  • What he learned from Steve Bechtel
  • What finally ended up working for him to send his 5.14b project
  • How he eats to support his climbing and body composition

Leif Gasch Links 


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Photo Credit

Robert Otto


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 today I am very excited about this episode because I got to talk with my friend, Leif Gasch.

Leif is a 38 year old guy who lives in Salt Lake City and he’s an electrician. He has a full time job. He’s also married to one of my longest term friends, Lindsay. I know Lindsay from back in our Wisconsin days when we were both at UW Madison and she was basically my first climbing idol. She was a strong female climber and she gave me hope that maybe one day I could climb as well as her. I don’t know that I’ve ever actually climbed as hard as she has but she still holds as one of my climbing idols.

Anyway, her husband is Leif. We were at the International Climbers’ Festival a few weeks ago in Lander and I was talking to Leif about his sort of evolution as a climber and recently how he’s changed his training and climbed his first 5.14b. He basically went from being a 5.13a/b sometimes c climber to pretty easily sending a 14b. He did that by training with five different pretty well-known trainers and learning a ton from them and then going off on his own and figuring out what worked for him and sending.

I was so impressed. I love success stories so I asked him to be on the show for that, but also because I’ve been getting a lot of requests from people to have more “regular” people on the show who have 40-hour a week jobs. Leif has not only a 40-hour a week job but sometimes more than that, but also he does labor all day. He’s working with his hands and his body and he’s tired at the end of the day. For him to be able to do this and then send, for him to be able to train during the week and send on the weekends, is pretty impressive to me.

He also represents people in their late 30s and sometimes I feel like people start to believe that you’re not able to get stronger after a certain age. I just want to show that it doesn’t really matter how old you are. It seems like you can pretty much always improve, to a point, but as a 38 year old person who just sent his first 14b that’s pretty frickin’ awesome.

I’ll shut up now and let Leif do the talking. You’re going to love him and I’ll talk to you on the other side. Here’s Leif.

Neely Quinn: Welcome to the show, Leif. Thank you very much for talking with me today.

Leif Gasch: Thanks for having me on, Neely.

Neely Quinn: Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, what your name is, I mean where you live, what you do for a living, all that good stuff.

Leif Gasch: Okay. My name is Leif Gasch. I currently live in Salt Lake City, Utah, with my wife and I’ve been here for, gosh, almost 10 years now. I grew up in Wyoming and kind of traveled around a bit here and there and kind of settled in Salt Lake as a home, both for climbing and for job stuff and that sort of thing. I’m here, I’m a full time electrician, and a climber as much as I can be.

Neely Quinn: That’s a lot of why I wanted to talk to you. I feel like people who are listening, most of us have jobs. Most of us aren’t pro climbers and people want to hear about people who have jobs and especially jobs like you where you’re active at your job and sending.

When we talked, I saw you in Lander, Wyoming, during the Climbers’ Festival and you’re married to one of my favorite people and one of my longest term friends, Lindsay. It was really great to see you but we started talking and you were telling me about how you had been training and the fact that you had figured out a way to train yourself that really worked and then you sent your hardest route, right?

Leif Gasch: In a nutshell, exactly.

Neely Quinn: I guess the interview is over. [laughs]

Leif Gasch: Well. [laughs]

Neely Quinn: I’m just kidding, but those are the reasons I want to talk with you. Let’s start with: what is it like trying to climb and train with a full time job for you?

Leif Gasch: How do I answer that? As I’m sure the boilerplate answer would be, it’s tough. It’s really tough. It’s a constant struggle. I would love to be able to impart some wisdom on you and the listeners and say, “Oh yeah, I found the secret. This is what it is,” but that’s not been the case at all.

I’m fortunate in that the position that I’m currently in at my job is flexible time-wise for the most part, but it’s still a full time job. For all intents and purposes it’s a manual labor job. I’m using my hands and my shoulders and my legs and lifting and pushing and pulling and blah, blah, blah, kind of all day long. If anything there’s just not enough hours in a week or hours in the day. It’s hard to try and cram it all in.

Neely Quinn: But you were trying. You’ve gone through a lot of different phases with trying different things with training, right?

Leif Gasch: Yeah, I guess it was probably – I’ve always been very fortunate that what little natural talents I’ve had has always sort of carried me through a lot of projects, climbing-wise. I think it was probably about four or five years ago I felt like I was – I was actually looking at my goofy 8a card and I was noticing this pretty serious plateau that I was hitting. I thought, ‘Man, I really haven’t progressed in a way that I’m satisfied with in a long time. I’ve kind of been on this benchmark. I’ve been climbing a lot of routes but I’m not really doing anything new or all that challenging.’

I just sat back and kind of looked at what I was doing in my life and I realized that if I wanted to progress I was going to have to adapt and start legitimately training. I didn’t know what that looked like. At the time, there was all this information on the internet and amongst the community about various methods and ways to train and who do you train with and how many times do you do it and what’s a deadlift? I really was a neophyte when it came to any of it. I had just always gotten by kind of trying hard, you know?

I just sort of delved in and over the last few years I’ve done probably four or five different training modalities with professional climbing trainers. They’ve all been very educational, super informative, but I would be the first to say that I don’t think any one of them had it completely pegged down for me.

This last year I started going back through all my old notes and all my old exercises and kind of looking at what I felt worked, what I felt didn’t work. I did have a very specific project that I wanted to apply this all to which helped. That definitely gave me some clarity and some focus for the process but then I kind of just wrote my own program based on what I thought was going to be the best for me, just kind of distilling it down to the basics. It worked phenomenally.

I would say it’s the most adaptation I’ve seen in the shortest amount of time out of all the training stuff that I’ve done.

Neely Quinn: Right, and I love hearing that. I’m a sucker for success stories and when you told me that I was like, ‘I need to interview him,’ because nobody says that. I mean, not nobody, but it’s really rare to hear, ‘I got really good results in a short amount of time.’ That’s what we want.

Leif Gasch: Sure, that’s the goal for everyone.

Neely Quinn: Let’s back up just a sec. When you said that you were looking at your plateau, where were you? What was the grade that you were kind of stuck at?


In the last probably 15 years – I shouldn’t say 15 years – so in the last 10 years I’ve kind of gotten away from hard bouldering just because it’s too hard for me to recover. I’ve almost always had a manual labor job of some sort. I was a carpenter before I was an electrician and the tolls that my job take on my body coupled with hard bouldering falls or finger injuries is just too much to take. I’ve really kind of digressed from bouldering and mainly focused on hard sport climbing, just in the interest of – I guess being honest and saying I’m not very well-rounded. [laughs]

I was kind of stuck at 13b/c. At 13- Lindsay loves to refer to me as ‘The Second Go King.’ That’s my jam and that was always the case and then 13c would just sort of be this – I would do 13b second go, no problem, across the board, across the country. It didn’t matter where we went. Then I would start pushing into 13c/13d and it was really difficult for me to do anything quickly. It was like 10 goes, 15 goes, 20 goes. I really felt like there was something missing there so that would be my plateau. It was sort of in that mid-5.13 range.

Neely Quinn: Okay, and then just to fast forward here a bit, what was your route that you ended up doing this year?

Leif Gasch: It was a route here in Utah out in the Pop Tire Cave in the West Desert. It was called Less Than Zero and it was 14b.

Neely Quinn: ‘B’ as in boy.

Leif Gasch: Yes.

Neely Quinn: That’s a pretty frickin’ big improvement, Leif.

Leif Gasch: I was pleased with it. [laughs] I had a big beer when I was done.

Neely Quinn: That’s really amazing and I want to give you some severe props because that’s hard to accomplish. Really great job.

Leif Gasch: Thanks. I was pretty excited about it.

Neely Quinn: Okay, now if you wouldn’t mind taking me through – you said you did four or five training modalities and none of them were right for you. Can you tell me what you did and what you thought wasn’t right about it for you?

Leif Gasch: Yeah, definitely. I guess the first program I did was the Anderson brothers’ program because Jonathan Siegrist told me that he had been doing that and he really liked it. I was like, ‘Okay. Jonathan’s a much better climber than me so if he likes it, I should try that.’

I bought the book, I contacted Mike who I’ve known for a while, and he gave me a few pointers and I worked through it. Being my first foray into training for climbing, I really had no baseline. I had no gauge for what I was supposed to be seeing, how I was supposed to be feeling, and in the end I got a lot of really good – I guess I would call them training practices out of that. That’s one of the biggest takeaways that I got from that program. Just sort of paying attention to consistency and paying attention to writing your numbers down and tracking that on top of just a lot of good exercises that I’d never really concentrated on before.

For instance, I would dabble on the campus board and pop up and down on a few rungs and be like, ‘Oh okay, that was kind of fun,’ and then I would be like, ‘Cool. I’m good at campusing,’ versus actually being on something where it’s like: you’re going to do this every time you go in and you’re going to try and see your progression. I was like, ‘Oh man, this is tiring. This is exhausting.’

I did that one and this is as much on me as it is on anyone. I don’t want to talk poorly of any of these programs because I think they’re all really well-written and there’s a lot of thought that has gone into them. It just wasn’t the magic bullet for me. I guess that would be a way to say it.

Neely Quinn: So how did you know that? Did you go outside and try things and you just weren’t any stronger?

Leif Gasch: With that program, yes. I guess I kind of knew because you feel it. You know when you’re climbing well, you know when you’re moving well, you know when you feel strong and powerful. We are our best barometers for our climbing. As much as you want to graph something and put numbers down, which I do for myself now, it’s still just because you’re strong on paper doesn’t mean you’re going to be strong on Saturday. That’s definitely not the case.

I definitely felt that I was not where I thought I should be at the end of that program. I was disappointed in the gains that I had made, thinking that I needed more. I was like, ‘Well, I know I got some stuff out of this but if I would have just really dropped the hammer, I probably could have achieved this same level.’ I didn’t really notice any major performance gains as an athlete across the board.

Neely Quinn: But you’re saying you did notice things on paper? Like your hangs got heavier, your campusing got better…

Leif Gasch: This was the first time I had ever done anything like that. I was like, ‘Oh wow, okay, at the beginning of this I could only hang on this edge for x-many seconds and now, at the end of this program, I can hang on that edge for four times as long.’ It was interesting to see that there were gains, I just didn’t feel like they translated the way I wanted them to on real rock.

Neely Quinn: That’s the question I’ll ask you about the Anderson brothers. I am not being disparaging at all about them. I love those guys and I have a lot of respect for them. I know in their program there’s not a lot of actual climbing. Do you feel like that was an issue for your particular situation?

Leif Gasch: No, I don’t feel like that was a downfall of that. I really do think it would be interesting to go back and repeat a program under kind of the same format now, knowing what I know about training, just because I think I would respond better to it. I say that because I know that you did an interview with Steve Bechtel at one point and he said something about how even the best written training program is only as good as adherence by the athlete. That was a huge portion of it for me. My workouts would vary from one hour to two hours and on paper there’s really not that many things changing workout to workout. A large portion of it was just me learning how to adapt to a proper training schedule.

I definitely saw strength gains but I think that program was just not for me, largely in part because I needed something a little more specific for myself.

Neely Quinn: Okay, so what was the next program that you tried?

Leif Gasch: The next program I tried, I contacted Steve Maisch here in Salt Lake. I’d climbed with Steve quite a bit and he needed some electrical work done on his house so I said, “Hey man, maybe we can do a little trade?” He wrote me up just a real basic program. He was right in the middle of getting back into the swing of school and he walked me through a number of exercises. Again, I kind of had a goal route in mind and we sort of kind of focused this program on that but again, it just wasn’t.

There were a lot of good things that I learned. I learned a lot about power and strength in that cycle with Steve. It was really, really good.

Neely Quinn: How so?

Leif Gasch: In that I started working – in my mind it was like, ‘If you want to get more powerful you go into the gym and you pick up heavy weights, you do hangboarding on the smallest edges possible, and you do pull-ups.’ At that time I was like, ‘What else could you possibly do?’

Steve was the first one to really say, “Hey, let’s look at your core. Let’s look at what real core mobility and core strength is. It’s not just doing a lot of sit-ups. It’s being able to hold some body tension in this really unique position, like you want to do this steep route, so let’s focus on…”

He built some unique exercises for me that I was so bad at. I was so terrible at them. I felt like such an idiot. I was so embarrassed to go into the gym to do these things but they were really good. It was really challenging and it was pretty apparent within just a couple of weeks that I had kind of some – I was like, ‘Oh, I grew up in Wyoming. I’ve always climbed at the Wild Iris. I’m a powerful climber.’ Going through this training cycle it became pretty apparent and I was like, ‘Wow, I’m not that powerful of a climber actually. I relied on some halfway decent technique and being tall. That’s what’s gotten me through a lot of stuff.’ There were some glaring weaknesses that were pointed out.

Neely Quinn: Can you give me an example of one of the weird-to-you exercises that he gave you?

Leif Gasch: Yeah, sure. The one that always comes to mind is – do you guys have a poot [spelling?] rail in Boulder?

Neely Quinn: No.

Leif Gasch: Have you heard of this? It’s basically, Noah Bigwood, when they built Momentum Millcreek, put one of these things in and it’s just a giant beam. It spans the width of the room and it sits at about 6.5 feet tall. It’s got holds on it and slopers and edges and everything symmetrical, left and right.

One of these exercises is you reach up and grab the poot, you stand underneath it so you’re kind of underneath it like standing underneath a door jam, basically, and you reach up and you grab two edges or two slopers or two similarly identical holds. Then Steve said, “We’ve got to work on a front lever,” and I’m like, ‘Well, I’m 6’3” and 190 pounds. That’s not really going to happen for me.’ [laughs] Steve says, “Well start with your knees bent,” so he had me squeeze this thing. You’re squeezing the beam as hard as you can trying to simulate or perform a front lever. That, to me, had smoke coming out of my ears. ‘You want me to do what and what at the same time? That can’t be done!’ He’d pop off a couple sets and show me and I was like, ‘Oh wow. I am so weak in this.’

That was one of the ones that every time I would go in there, I’d wait until everyone was off the training deck and quickly pop my poot sets out and be done. [laughs]

Neely Quinn: Did it work?

Leif Gasch: That particular exercise, no, but it was super key in me realizing: this is something I really need to work on. There was so much room for improvement. Again, I didn’t have anything to compare it to exercise-wise. I’m sure I got stronger at it but I don’t think that was the best exercise for me being just kind of new to that whole system.

Neely Quinn: You needed to maybe work into something like that?

Leif Gasch: Yeah, I would say that’s the 5.13 core exercise. I needed more like the 5.10 exercise.

Neely Quinn: [laughs] Okay. So you learned different things about power and strength from Steve. Would you say core and anything else?

Leif Gasch: Honestly, he was the first one to kind of really point out that there’s a lot of different mechanisms in climbing. In my mind it had always been, ‘If you want to get stronger climbing, you pull harder.’ He was the first one to kind of point out that actually, there’s a lot of different systems and biomechanics that are happening in the body when we’re climbing, especially on physical routes, that really come into play and just being strong in your arms and your fingers is not nearly enough.

Neely Quinn: He’s way into deadlifting, isn’t he?

Leif Gasch: Oh yeah. He’s really into – honestly, he admitted to me once that he probably loves training more than he loves climbing. I might get in trouble for saying that but he really loves the exercises and understanding how they affect the body and how doing the right exercises in the right proportions can really make a big difference in your physique and how you can apply it in real world situations.

Neely Quinn: So what changed about you or your climbing? How long did you do it?

Leif Gasch: That was kind of a standard 12-week program. What changed about my climbing? I definitely gained a noticeable amount of power, more so than I had ever before. I was kind of like, ‘Oh wow, this is cool.’

The program that he wrote for me specifically, we were trying to time it around this really unique window that I was going to have climbing in the VRG and I was going to try this route. It was like everything was going to come down to this redpointing window of two and a half weeks or something like that. Of course the weather crapped out and that didn’t work. It was still kind of what I would call a linear program and by the time I was training my endurance, my power was already starting to wane a little bit. I’d noticed that because I had gone down, I climbed on the route right after the strength sequence and I was like, ‘Man, this is really working. I can only do five moves in a row but I’m crushing these five moves. This is sick.’ Then when I came back like six or eight weeks later, I was definitely able to string longer sequences together but my power was significantly lessened. I noticed that on two moves in particular. I was like, ‘Wow. I’m much weaker on these than I was just a month ago.’

Neely Quinn: Okay, so you gained some power and then lost it because you weren’t doing anything to maintain it.

Leif Gasch: Yeah, we were definitely doing power and strength, coupled in with some movement, and then we kind of capped it off with a bunch of endurance right towards the very end. When I was in that endurance phase I definitely lost some of the power.

Neely Quinn: Okay, I mean that’s cool and that’s good to learn from, right?

Leif Gasch: Yeah, absolutely. If there was only one downfall of that program, realistically for me, was that I told Steve, “Hey man, I want to redpoint on these two weeks because I’ve got to go to Costa Rica and hang out on the beach afterwards.” Literally, I was like, ‘We’ve got to get this done here,’ and he was like, ‘Okay, that’s how we’ll plan it around.’ I think putting that kind of time constraint definitely was a hindrance on my part. Again, learning process. I didn’t know. Chalk it up to experience.

Neely Quinn: Sorry, how hard was that route that you were trying?

Leif Gasch: That was 14a.

Neely Quinn: Okay, and did you send it?

Leif Gasch: Definitely not. [laughs]

Neely Quinn: Okay, then what? What did you do after that?

Leif Gasch: I kind of took a break after that because I was a little dejected and I didn’t really know what to do. I started actually – it’s kind of a funny process how this all came about. I started feeling really painful. I started experiencing pretty significant pain in my shoulder and I went and I saw Esther Smith, who practices here in town. I’ve known Esther for a number of years and she gave me a work-up and she was like, ‘Oh man, we’ve got some work to do here.’

I found out I had some pretty severe bicep tendonitis and we worked through a bunch of that. She had me on the PT bandwagon. I was doing my exercises and we got to a certain point where she said, “You know, I can’t really do anything else for you. You need to start strengthening these antagonistic muscle groups that are causing this.” I said, “Okay, what do you suggest?” and she said, “Dan Mirsky is doing this program with The Front training room. I think you should go work with him a little bit.” I was like, ‘Oh, that would be great. If you think that’s great, I’d love to. Dan’s been a friend for a long time. That sounds awesome.’

So I went and I signed up for that. That was a very long program that lasted for just about four months, almost five months, with Dan. Again, a totally different modality but a really great program, too. Very eye opening. Super eye opening.

Neely Quinn: Okay, and I’m going to back up because you just reminded me that I quote you sometimes when I’m talking to Esther. Everybody knows Esther Smith. She’s been on the show like a hundred times and what did you say you would do if Esther asked you to do it?

Leif Gasch: If Esther tells me to stand on my head and eat lima beans, I stand on my head and I eat lima beans. Whatever she says is gospel because it always works. She really knows her stuff. [laughs]

Neely Quinn: I just thought I would point that out to bring it full circle to any listeners. Okay, so Mirsky. What did he have you do and what were you training for?

Leif Gasch: I was training for the same 14a and we trained hard. It was way more intense than anything I’ve ever done or had ever done, climbing-wise. We kind of went through almost six little mini cycles in the course of that and we focused on strength, we focused on power, we focused on endurance, kind of inter-mixing here and there, still kind of following what I would call a general linear program. It was a lot of: these are actual exercises that you do in the gym. This is how you deadlift, this is how you do military presses, this is how you do archer push-ups.

Actually having Dan and some other trainers in the gym, sitting there saying, “No, your form’s wrong. Your form is wrong. You’ve got to do this, you’ve got to do that,” was really, really, super eye opening. Very intense but really, really good in kind of understanding – again, going back to that there are a lot of different muscle groups that you need to recruit, especially for steep, thuggy climbing. We really worked on everything. I hated walking up stairs and Dan had me doing box jumps every other day, which I still have never forgiven him for. It was really helpful and, again, called out a glaring weakness in my strengths and my physique so it was good.

Neely Quinn: In your physique? Did it change?

Leif Gasch: Definitely. Lindsay would love it if I did that again. She was like, ‘You’ve never looked as fit as you did then.’ [laughs]

Neely Quinn: Okay, so physique aside, what else did it do for your actual climbing?

Leif Gasch: Climbing-wise, it definitely made me a more well-rounded athlete. I had very much always been what I would consider an upper body athlete at that point, with just a lot of pulling. Almost always pulling. Other than having some okay footwork I wasn’t really using my legs to generate power or anything like that and working with Dan really helped me focus on that. That was huge. It was like, ‘Oh wow. I have these incredibly big, strong legs below me. I need to use these things. This takes off a ton of weight.’ That was really cool. I made big gains and big strides because of that.

Neely Quinn: And how did your project go?

Leif Gasch: I did it that fall.

Neely Quinn: Oh, okay, so that worked.

Leif Gasch: It did work. The takeaway that I took from that program was that it was way too much for me. Again, everybody is different and Dan and I talked about that. At one point I just told him, “Dude, I’m broken. I can’t keep doing this. I can’t maintain this pace.” We scaled some stuff back. It was successful in the end, definitely. I achieved the goal I wanted to achieve but I was so tired from that program. I would be tired after single workouts, you know? And not like, ‘Oh, I’m a little tired going home,’ but like, ‘I need to take 10 or 15 minutes to sit in the car before I drive in traffic,’ tired. I was wrecked.

Neely Quinn: How often were you training?

Leif Gasch: It was only two days a week and then full climbing days. It would be like Tuesday, Thursday, then climbing Saturday, Sunday.

Neely Quinn: And no training on Saturday and Sunday?

Leif Gasch: Nope, just climbing. Again, I really feel like in kind of keeping with this vein of why you had me on today, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that my rest days – and this was apparent to me throughout this whole process, through this cycle with Dan – are not rest days.

This is the one thing that I’ve really struggled with with training throughout, really. I train really hard on a Tuesday night and I feel like I made some good gains but Wednesday I might have a 10 hour day in the sun pulling wire or digging trench or doing something and I don’t get the opportunity to rest the same way some people do when they get to sit at a desk all day. I can’t believe I would ever say this but I get so jealous of that sometimes. [laughs] ‘Oh, you get to sit in an air conditioned room and drink water? God, that sounds lovely.’ That was really hard for this program and I think that was where it really stuck out to me that I really have to incorporate more rest into anything I do from here on out.

Neely Quinn: So you need more rest because your days are long at work, which is something that some people can relate with. Do you want to talk about that now? I kind of just want to keep going with the other people that you’ve trained with, if there are any more, and then we can talk about what you ended up doing.

Leif Gasch: Yeah, why don’t we do that? For this last route that I did, my big project that I did this spring – a while ago now I befriended Kris Hampton with The Power Company. Not to take away from any of the other great people that I’ve had the privilege of working with, but I thought, ‘Kris is really into this, he and I have had lots of conversations about training and climbing. I’d like to give that a shot.’ I contacted him and kind of explained that I had this really specific goal and this new route and he wrote me up a program and he was like, ‘Let’s get after it.’

I worked with him and that was mostly through the summer/fall of last year. That was a great experience. That was wonderful, just like the rest.

Neely Quinn: Okay, and what was your goal route then?

Leif Gasch: The goal route last fall was what I ended up doing this spring.

Neely Quinn: Oh right, that’s what you said. So it was the 14b. I want to back up just a sec. What was the 14a that you did? What style and where was it?

Leif Gasch: It was also at Pop Tire. It was Terradome. Steep – you climb probably 50 or 60 feet of mid-5.13 to a decent rest and then execute kind of a fairly hard and awkward boulder problem, maybe V8, maybe V9? I’m not really sure. I’ve gotten so bad at bouldering grades. Then sustained with a little bit of a redpoint crux right at the top. Very, very steep climbing. By the time you go out it’s a 45° wall so [unclear].

Neely Quinn: And this time you were training for a 14b that was what style and where at?

Leif Gasch: It was also at the Pop Tire. It was a similar style but it was what I would call more direct, straightforward climbing. You climb a 13c to a legitimate roof boulder problem with a harder actual face, crimpy exit boulder problem to finish. Still I would call it steep, gymnastic climbing but this thing that I did this spring has some more technical climbing on it as well.

Neely Quinn: What did you think you needed in terms of gains?

Leif Gasch: I didn’t know. I knew that I couldn’t maintain the level of training intensity that I had with Dan. That just wasn’t going to work for me because I might get a couple days of work that were really mellow and then those training days would be – I would go in and train after a couple mellow days and I would feel like Superman and my numbers would be up and I’d be like, ‘Man, I’m killing it.’ But then I’d have a long rough work week and I’d go in and the training days would be completely lost. I think I was full on suffering from neuromuscular fatigue at that point, just kind of like, ‘Meh, whatever.’

I knew that I needed more power again but I kind of deffered to Kris and I said, “Hey, what do you think?” We kind of looked at what I had done previously and what I wanted to accomplish and he said, “Honestly, I think we’ve really just got to focus on your core strength, you know? You’re climbing upside down a lot. Let’s just focus on that.” That was kind of the big thing. We did a tremendous amount of focus on core work and again, a lot of whole body core, not just – it was really cool because he incorporated a lot of really cool climbing movement stuff in there which I had never really done before.

Neely Quinn: Like how?

Leif Gasch: Like doing very basic exercises. We talked about it at one point being akin to Olympic training. A lot of Olympians will train perfecting very basic movements. We kind of say, “Yeah, I can grab a crimp. I move to it and I move off it and it’s not that hard,” but how often are we really grabbing it as controlled as we can? We all suffer from this, and I still do it even though I’ve been trained out of it, you lunge for a hold and you kind of hit it and sag back. We were like, ‘We’ve got to break that habit. Let’s hit that hold. If you hit it all locked off, don’t sag back on it. Use that height and keep going with it.’ Kind of just re-evaluating some of what I considered very basic climbing movements but it was super eye opening, like, ‘Wow. I kind of relax way too much when I’m climbing. I don’t try as hard as I could. I don’t think about how this whole route is going to require every ounce I’ve got and I can’t really afford to relax. I can’t afford to not really concentrate and make each of these small movements just as perfect as they can be.’

We did a bunch of – he’s got some drills and I don’t want to give away his proprietary secrets. [laughs] We did a lot of real basic bouldering drills. Nothing super technical on the wall, just some real basic movement stuff.

Neely Quinn: And he had you bouldering.

Leif Gasch: We did a fair amount of weights, a little bit of route climbing actually on a rope, but a lot of just bouldering. Most of the training stuff I would do I could do within a 30-foot radius of the Moon Board so that was really cool.

Neely Quinn: Were you doing circuits or anything to do power endurance?

Leif Gasch: A little bit there towards the end, definitely because I needed some of that and he also had me refocus some of my efforts when I would actually go climbing on the weekends. If I wasn’t trying the route he would say, “I want you to think about some of the stuff we work with, some of these real basic movements. I want you to apply that to routes that are within your comfort wheelhouse.” So if I was climbing on a 13a, ‘Don’t just do it the way you’ve always done it. Try and focus on some of these smaller adjustments and tweaks that we’ve made to your style and what you’re focusing on.’ That was really helpful, too. That was kind of a big portion of where some of the actual power endurance came from.

Neely Quinn: Was he training with you in person ever?

Leif Gasch: No, which I was bummed about but at that time he had a ton of stuff going on, I had a ton of stuff going on, and we definitely tried to but we couldn’t make it happen. There was a lot of phone chit chat. Honestly, with the app he had set up it was really easy. It was fun to work with him.

Neely Quinn: Okay, so that’s a good question, too. At first you did the Anderson brothers where you were just going off their book. No, you got in touch with Mike, too.

Leif Gasch: I did but he was like, ‘Read the book. The book will tell you everything you need to do.’ That was just me reading the book and applying what I read.

Neely Quinn: And then you met with Maisch but you didn’t train with him, and then you had Mirsky and you were training with him and he was giving you a plan. Hampton was over the phone and on the app. Did any of those work better or worse for you?

Leif Gasch: Um, I would say – how do I answer that? Yes. Some worked better, some didn’t. It just depended on what I was doing. Sometimes it was really nice to have Dan there or one of the other trainers saying, “When you do this, I really want you to concentrate on tightening up this section of muscle because what we’re trying to do is isolate this muscle group here.” It was like, ‘Oh, okay. I totally get that now.’

But then with some of the movement drills that I was doing with Kris, it was like, ‘Yeah, just let me put my headphones in and do these. I’m kind of going into the zone-out cave over here. Just let me do my thing.’ I think that would have been a big hindrance having somebody there poking me with a stick going, ‘Your thigh’s not tight enough there.’ [laughs] Something like that.

There were pros and cons to both. There were pros and cons to both for sure. I think at that point, working with Kris I’d learned enough about myself to know that this whole process is about adaptation and you’ve got to swallow it and embrace it wholly and say, “I’m not going to have Kris here so what are some good videos I can watch? This is the technique I need to be focusing on. Okay, great. That’s what I can do.” And, at that point I had also learned enough about myself, I think, as a climber that I kind of understood what was being prescribed to me and what it was supposed to achieve and it was a lot easier to just focus on doing the exercises properly, not that anything was super complicated. A lot of this stuff is still pretty basic for anyone that’s gone into the gym and dabbled with training. Nothing too complicated.

Neely Quinn: So you didn’t send after that, though. How long did you do that?

Leif Gasch: I did a 12-week program with Kris and I felt great. I was like, ‘This is it, this is the one,’ and I finally got to wrangle my buddy Jonathan out to the cave. He was there on a two and a half to three week campaign and I was like, ‘Man this is awesome. I’ve got a strong partner, I’ve got the motivation, I’ve got the skill, let’s do it.’ Everyday was gains and I can say that definitively. Everyday I would go out and climb on the route I would make gains somehow, but they were smaller gains. I was expecting leaps and bounds and it was like I learned this about this move. It was never like, ‘Oh, I’m adding three more bolts to the route,’ or anything like that. They were very small gains but I was noticing them regularly, which I hadn’t ever on any previous project I had tried.

Neely Quinn: Alright, so then what?

Leif Gasch: Then it was the same sort of deal. I was starting to feel a little twinge in my shoulder and I was like, ‘Alright, I’m going to take some time off around this winter.’ Actually, at that time my boss had shoulder surgery and thumb surgery and it’s just he and I. He’s also a climber which is why I get a fairly relaxed, not relaxed, but I get a lenient schedule from him. It was kind of all the physical duties of the company were falling more on my lap and I was like, ‘I really need to focus on this right now,’ so it was kind of like work, work, work, work, work.

I knew that the spring season was coming up and Kris had asked me, “Hey, do you want to do another session together?” I feel bad because I was sort of dragging my feet. ‘Yeah, I think so but I’m not sure what the spring is going to hold. There might be bird closures. I don’t know.’ I think what I was doing is I was stalling, thinking I was in the same trap of: this is doing something for me but I’m too tired. I don’t feel like I’m making the gains.

I was sort of just sitting back and thinking. I look at the blogs and I listen to your podcast, Kris’s, and I was really interested in what Steve Bechtel was talking about with nonlinear progression. I bought his book and I reached out to him and I said, “Hey Steve, I would love to do a thing with you,” and he said, “I would love to, too. I’m pretty busy. What do you have in mind?” I said, “Well look, let me read the book and I’ll get back to you.”

I bought his book, I read it, and I love his idea that you don’t hold to necessarily a calendar schedule like you train Tuesday, Thursday, redpoint Saturday, Sunday, because so often that doesn’t work for me. [laughs] My work weeks are just too varied in the demand and how I’m traveling and what’s going on so I sort of just started going back through all my little programs and picking out things where I said, “Oh, I really responded to this exercise. A lot. I’m going to add this one in.”

I kind of looked at more the full body, not just at arms and fingers. I’ve gotta do some legs and back and posterior chain. I just kind of looked at the whole thing and I said, “What do I need for this route? What are some exercises that can help?” Then I just sort of broke it down into basically a nonlinear program.

I would do a strength day, I would do a power day, and then I would do an endurance day. I was very precise and specific. Strength days were never more than 40 minutes, power days were never more than an hour and 15 minutes of working out, maybe an hour and a half, and the endurance days were a minimum of 2-4 hours. I was really conscious of those time parameters I guess and I would do them as I felt I needed them. If I did a strength day and I felt good after one rest day then I’d do my power day but there would be weeks where I wouldn’t feel great after my strength day and I’d take three rest days and then do my power day. I would just sort of leapfrog through that transition of strength, power, endurance, strength, power, endurance.

I did that for just under eight weeks this spring. No climbing at all, just going into the gym on my endurance days. I might go into Momentum and do some roped route climbing. I went out to the cave first thing this spring, went up the route, brushed the holds, tied in and gave it a redpoint go and surpassed my high point from last fall, just off the couch. I was like, ‘Woah!’ Then it went down quite quickly after that. I think it only took me three tries this spring. Massive gains.

Neely Quinn: That’s pretty amazing. You’re saying you didn’t climb that much? Or you didn’t climb outside that much?

Leif Gasch: We didn’t climb outside that much and when I would climb, on my power days I would do more movement-based bouldering but I didn’t do any limit bouldering. There was no limit bouldering in there. It was mostly just linking boulder problems, so sort of intervals, and then the route days I would just do full-on route pyramids and just try and get as much low intensity, high volume route climbing in the gym as I could. 10, 12, 15 pitches, that sort of thing.

Neely Quinn: 10, 12, 15 pitches of what grades? What grades do you climb at your hardest in the gym and what were you doing then?

Leif Gasch: So I would try and do – I’ll see if I can describe this. I would do a route pyramid and let’s say my apex route at the top of the pyramid would be a 13a. I would start with one 12a, one 12b, one 12c, one 12d, one 13a, and then I would basically trace that back down so then I’d do another 12d, another 12c, another 12b, right? The idea being that I would stack the majority of my hardest pitches towards the front of the workout and then towards the end of the workout you’re just sort of tapering back down to the lower end.

It sounded great on paper and I realized very quickly that I couldn’t do a full pyramid if I had the grade that high at 13a. It was more like 12c/12d being the top of my pyramid and really trying to go through and make sure I was doing one 12d, two 12c’s, three 12b’s, four 12a’s, that sort of thing with the intent that it didn’t matter if I actually sent. I made a rule that I could fall as many times but I needed to pull right back on and just continue climbing. It was like, ‘Oh, if you fall, big deal. Keep climbing. Don’t stop climbing.’

That was exhausting but that was phenomenal for me for endurance training. That was wonderful. I feel like I responded really well to that.

Neely Quinn: Okay, I’m just trying to get it straight because this has always sort of been a struggle for me, actually knowing how to train power endurance on routes. So first of all, who did you get to belay you?

Leif Gasch: [laughs] My incredibly patient wife.

Neely Quinn: Alright, so how many were you doing in a row without rest?

Leif Gasch: Probably never more than two in a row, mostly just so that she could get some climbing in, too, but I think by the time it was all said and done a regular day would be 10 pitches. A big day would be 15. I won’t lie – I would usually fail somewhere after 10. It would just be like I’d be climbing on a 5.11 and I would literally lack the ability to string more than a few moves together. I’d just be at complete exhaustion and failure.

Neely Quinn: And that’s when you knew it was time.

Leif Gasch: Yeah, and it’s like, ‘You’re done.’ If you’re clawing your way to the top of the wall on an 11d, for me that was like, ‘You’re done. Now you’re not gaining anything. Now you’re just breaking yourself down.’

Neely Quinn: You said that your strength sessions were never more than 40 minutes or something like that. So you wouldn’t climb and then go do a strength session?

Leif Gasch: No. My strength sessions were never more than 40-45 minutes and there was no climbing involved in any of them. Sometimes I would do some campusing. I tried to mix it up a little bit between them but not too much, just in the idea that you can’t just randomly scatter exercises. And, it’s harder to track then, too.

I would always do one or two types of campus ladders. I would throw in some Russian twists and some Turkish get-ups and that sort of thing. I would almost always do some sort of heavy rowing and again, all super light. This was just something I just sort of went into this with. I kept thinking about max effort. If it’s really max effort, in my mind, you really shouldn’t be able to do it more than once or twice. I was really trying to go for that. It would be like I would do heavy rows for 6-8 reps and if I could do eight I’d be like, ‘Nope, weight up,’ and do that sort of thing. Towards the end I started adding a hard boulder problem in but I don’t really know that that worked all that well because I would often fail on it and there was very little success there. I think I was mostly just trying to keep myself psyched.

It was a lot of deadlifting, squats, a lot of super high intensity, go in and try as hard as I can and after 45 minutes just be done and walk away.

Neely Quinn: So how many days a week were you actually climbing then? Or it wasn’t by week? That’s the thing with logical progression. It was just session, session, session whenever you can.

Leif Gasch: I feel like I should say this because this was definitely the splinter in the back of my mind at the beginning of this program that I did this spring. I really feel like, for me, after having talked with other climbers who’ve worked in the trades and have really physical jobs – there’s a few of us here in Salt Lake and a bunch of my friends back in Wyoming – rest is the key. Rest is when we get stronger. Workouts just break us down but it’s getting that rest so the muscles can adapt and make those changes. I had always felt like I just wasn’t getting enough rest so I promised myself: we’re going to try this and if it doesn’t work it doesn’t work and then you know.

Yeah, I would do a strength session and then I would see how I felt. If I felt good after a rest day and I felt recovered and work wasn’t too hard, great. I would go back in and do a power workout. But there would be days where I would say, “Man, I’m exhausted. I’ve had two long, crap days at work. I still need another day off,” so I would push it back and then when I felt ready, like I could give a good quality training session, then I would go back in.

Honestly, that made all the difference, especially in how I approached this because I was always psyched to go to the gym. There was never a day where I was like, ‘Okay, let’s just go get this over with and then we can do dinner or whatever.’ I was always like, ‘Yeah, I feel good. Let’s do this.’ That was the first time I had ever actually felt that way while training for climbing, which was really unique for me. It was very invigorating.

Neely Quinn: So what do you think you gained mostly out of that? What was it that got you so strong that you could do it that quickly?

Leif Gasch: This is going to sound kind of cliche but to be honest, I think I gained quality. Really looking back at all the notes I took and measuring my progress through all these different programs, I wonder if they weren’t really excellent exercises but I just wasn’t able to apply myself fully to them?

Neely Quinn: Because you were tired.

Leif Gasch: Because I was always so tired. It was hard because I would look at these dips in my progress as I was mapping it and tracking it and I was like, ‘Man, there should be this nice, steady, even arc that’s kind of going up,’ and it was never that way.

I really feel like in the handful of weeks that I did this program for myself this spring, I really feel like there was maybe only one or two workouts that weren’t truly 100%. I definitely stepped to it with more energy, more psych, and I was really able to focus on the exercises and really what I was trying to achieve. So yeah, they were all quality workouts, which was different.

Neely Quinn: Did Steve help you with this?

Leif Gasch: Steve Bechtel? No, he did not. Between his coaching seminars and everything that he’s got going on, he was too busy. I kind of wanted to see if I could do it knowing what I knew about the training I had done, reading his book and kind of having my eyes opened to: it doesn’t have to follow this rigid plan. It can be something a little more adapted.

I really wanted to see if I could just do it myself so I thought, ‘Okay, I’m not going to bug Steve, I’m just going to give it a rip myself,’ and it seemed to really work.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, it did work, really, really well. [laughs] That’s incredible.

Leif Gasch: Yeah, it’s pretty cool. It was a really cool process, a very cool process.

Neely Quinn: So do you feel like you can keep that up now because you know how to pace yourself?

Leif Gasch: Definitely. I mean, I used the term ‘magic bullet’ earlier. This is definitely not a magic bullet program. This was something that I had very specifically written for myself for a very specific route. In going through this I’ve already gone back and looked at my notes and been like, ‘Oh wow, I could really clean that up and this could become much more broadband of an exercise for strength. It doesn’t have to be this specific.’ But going forward, simply because I saw gains so quickly I would like to try something similar again this fall and see if I can’t duplicate the same sort of result gains. Then, if I can, I know this is what’s going to work for me here on out.

Nothing I did was super crazy. It was all pretty basic stuff. It was kind of listening to my body a bit more and kind of understanding: what do I need and what don’t I need? Don’t just do it because this is the cool trend on Instagram right now. If that’s not good for what I need then get rid of it and do basic stuff.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, and it’s easy for you to say that now – well, it’s maybe not easy – because you went through all these different programs. You kind of figured out what your body responds to and what it doesn’t and what you need and what you don’t. Finally, you could say confidently, “I don’t need that.”

Leif Gasch: Yeah. It’s funny you say that. All of these programs that I’ve done, everyone I’ve worked with has been fantastic. I’ve only gotten pros and cons from each but I wouldn’t have done anything differently. I got such good takeaways from all of them. One of the funny things I remember is this line from the Anderson brothers’ book. They say, “This is what we feel like is a really good program based on hundreds of times of different trials. It’s just stuff that we’ve experimented with.” I remember reading that and being like, ‘Dude, that’s so lame. Don’t tell me that. Tell me that you figured it out. I don’t want to know that you’re experimenting. Who wants to do that?’

It’s so funny because as I’ve really reflected on that at the end of this spring I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I totally did that. I just had to go through and experiment with all this stuff.’ It would be really cool it if was like: hey, this is the one training thing you need to do and you’ll be a better climber. That’s just not the case.

That would be my advice for anyone that’s struggling with trying to balance work. Lindsay and I are – I don’t want to say fortunate, but we don’t have kids and I cannot imagine how difficult it is for some of my friends who work in the trades and have two kids at home and want to try and climb on the weekend. Free minutes are gold and I really do think that one of the biggest realizations for me was just kind of sitting back and saying, “Okay, how much can I give?” And really kind of keeping in that idea of quality, saying, “Okay, let’s make sure these are quality workouts. It might take a little longer but the gains will be worth it.”

Neely Quinn: So you said that some of your workouts would last 2-4 hours. I think this is where it gets really tricky for people who have jobs. I’m wondering where you’ve put your workouts in during your week?

Leif Gasch: At night. [laughs] Almost always at night. I’m an early morning riser but I like to start work early, too. Oftentimes we work outside and I want to get to it before it gets too hot or too cold so we would almost always – Lindsay goes with me almost all the time to the gym. She doesn’t always train but she’s super supportive. It’s our only outlet during the week. We go to the gym during the crazy, busy scene between 5-7 when you really want to avoid the gym. We just go in and the strength workout, the power workout, those are pretty easy because you can knock those out pretty quick and that was never a big deal.

The route nights when we would go to Momentum or go to The Front to do routes, those were tougher. It was a little easier when we would do back-to-backs with each of us and we would try and be quick about it but a lot of times it was like, ‘Quick! Throw the rope over there before they get on that so I can do that 12c and then you can go do this thing.’ I won’t say that those were not intense workouts, because it was a lot of back and forth, but we’d get done and we’d grab a late dinner and a beer and if we didn’t do that during the week I think we’d probably go a bit crazy. That’s our only time to get out and relieve some stress.

I wish I had a better answer for you but it was sort of just going to the gym and doing battle with the masses.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, it sucks that everybody is there at the same damn time.

Leif Gasch: [laughs] It does. We always try and be friendly but I told Lindsay that, “I don’t think anybody here likes us.” She was like, ‘Why do you say that?’ “Because I put my headphones in and I’m just surveying the gym. I’ve got my own music because I can’t listen to Elton John or whatever they’ve got on the radio playing. I’ve got to stay psyched. I’m worried that I have this super intense look on my face.”

I think about our friend, Doctor Erik Kubiak, who used to live here. He had very limited time. He’d go to the gym and he had one hour. It was about training. It wasn’t about socializing, it wasn’t about going in and chitchatting and catching up. It’s like: I’m here to do a workout and this is a very important part of this process. I need to just get that done. On those longer workouts it was important for me to maintain that mentality.

Neely Quinn: Yeah. I mean, I just did a podcast with – now I can’t remember his name but anyway.

Leif Gasch: That guy. [laughs]

Neely Quinn: Yeah, that guy whose name I should definitely remember. He was saying if you are sending in the gym, you’re not doing it right. If you’re having fun in the gym you’re not doing it right. [laughs] I think that’s kind of a controversial way of looking at it but when you have a goal like this, I feel like that’s when you do have to get down to business. You just have to be like, ‘I’m just going to suck this up. It might suck a little bit and it’s okay.’

Leif Gasch: Yeah, definitely. Again, I would be remiss if I didn’t point this out. Having that goal was paramount. I could never have done this program because it was very specific. It was very laser point and very focused and that was all because I was like, ‘I really want to do this route. I know I can do it. I know it’s attainable. I just have to adapt a little bit more to do it.’ Without that, to be able to go into the gym and do a route pyramid for four hours is like, ‘Oh my god. Why? To stay fit? Don’t worry about it. You’re probably plenty fit enough.’ [laughs]

So yeah, it’s important to have fun but that wasn’t part of the goal. Nowhere in my notes have I ever written down, ‘Make sure to have fun.’ Maybe I should. Maybe that should be something for the next cycle.

Neely Quinn: Well, what are you doing now? What is your deal now?

Leif Gasch: Right now I’m kind of taking some time off. I’m studying for my journeyman electrician’s license and I really want to focus on that and give that a whole-hearted effort. I’ve been just kind of climbing for fun, still climbing on the weekends. I saw you in Lander. We were able to get some climbing in up there and that was great. I did a few new routes which I hadn’t done before which is always fun there.

For now, it’s hot here. It’s summertime so it’s not an ideal time to be climbing. We’ve got a fun family trip to Oregon to go surfing here in a couple weeks which we’re going to do and when we come back from that I’m going to sit back down and start training, basically doing another program for the fall with the idea of trying to be in redpoint shape the beginning of October through November or something like that.

Neely Quinn: What’s the goal route?

Leif Gasch: I’ve got a couple. There’s two more routes out at the Pop Tire Cave that I would really like – or at least one of them – to do. I’d kind of written it off and after I had done my thing this spring, my buddy Clay was like, ‘Oh, you should climb on this.’ I had always just written it off as being too hard. I said, “No, no, no, I can’t do that.” He said, “Oh, you should go up it. You should go up it.” I actually did. I climbed up and I did all the moves. I came down and said, “Dammit, that is so fun. Okay. Alright. I’m psyched.”

There was something that kind of occurred to me. The day that I actually did my hard route this spring, it was at the end of my second day, it was my third burn, and I had actually fallen asleep just beforehand. [laughs] It was not a redpoint go. I was like, ‘I’m going to go up it for fitness,’ and my technique was not perfect, I bobbled a couple holds, and I still did it. I came down and there was this little voice in the back of my head that said, “What if you had climbed it perfectly? What if you hadn’t cut your foot right there? You can climb harder. There’s still room for growth here.”

There are two 14c’s out at the Pop Tire that I would like to try this fall.

Neely Quinn: Wow.

Leif Gasch: Well, we’ll see. I’m not expecting to do anything this fall. That’s kind of one of the fun things that I’ve always loved about climbing in general. You find a route and sure, if it speaks to you, great. I do love the idea of adaptation. I love the idea of making yourself stronger and better to achieve a different goal, not just sticking to what you’re good at.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, I do, too. I totally agree.

Leif Gasch: We’ll see. I’m going to try this process again and at least see if I feel like I’m making the same results and hopefully the paper shows it, too. Fingers crossed.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, I have my fingers crossed for you.

Leif Gasch: [laughs] Thank you.

Neely Quinn: I have to ask about diet for you because I always do. I’m wondering if you found anything throughout all this training that worked for you or didn’t work for you.

Leif Gasch: Neely, I’ve been dreading all day that you were going to ask me this question. I hope that you’ll still be my friend. You want to know what I did for my diet?

Neely Quinn: [laughs] Yeah.

Leif Gasch: Nothing. I eat like a horse. No, that’s not true. I eat like two horses. I eat a lot of food.

What have I done diet-wise? In the last year or two I’ve cut out sugar almost completely. No processed sugar of any kind. It’s a rare occasion that I’ll have a soda. We might have a piece of chocolate cake after dinner if we go downtown on a date night or something but we don’t keep sweets in the house. We’re not a big house on sugar. I love that.

I did start this last year going to a high protein breakfast. That’s made a huge difference just in my life in general. Before, I was always just kind of the cereal guy and I switched from just cereal to doing Greek yogurt and granola and then I’ve kind of alternated back and forth between that and then doing some sausage, eggs, toast, and avocado. Otherwise, I try not to eat too much processed food. I try to avoid the fast foods if I can but I’m an opportunivore so if I’m hungry and it’s right there I’ll probably eat it.

There was something that Dan always told me. He said, “Train heavy, redpoint light,” so I might try and cut my portions back a little bit during a redpoint campaign but otherwise – again, this is just knowing myself. My job is just too demanding. I have to eat. I’ve tried cutting back on my caloric intake and I just crash so lots of water, lots of food, and I try and keep it as healthy as I can. Lots of veggies and lots of meat but not too much bread. I wouldn’t say I do anything too specific.

Oh, and beer. I like beer. I drink a lot of beer. [laughs] It’s terrible. It’s awful.

Neely Quinn: I think it’s funny – it’s not funny, it’s actually pretty standard. You’re this big guy and it seems like you’re almost a little bit ashamed that you eat a lot but honestly, that’s what I’ve told my big guys. ‘You need to eat more. You don’t actually eat a lot and you need to eat more.’ I think that that’s great that you’re actually feeding your body what it needs. It’s obviously working and you did do a couple things. You did take out processed sugar and made your breakfast higher in protein, which is exactly what I tell people to do.

Leif Gasch: That was something that I just started thinking when I noticed a midday crash. I was crashing at work and I thought I needed more heavy fuel for the fire, so to speak. That’s been awesome. That’s been great. My energy levels are way higher in general.

Neely Quinn: That’s awesome and I’m so glad you said that. That’s what happens to almost everybody who does that so I hope everybody is listening carefully.

Cool, well I think we covered everything. Did we miss anything?

Leif Gasch: I don’t think so. I hope I gave you good answers.

Neely Quinn: You gave me very thorough, succinct, amazing answers and I really appreciated it.

Leif Gasch: Well yeah. Thanks for having me on. This is fun.

Neely Quinn: Yeah. Good luck with your training. I hope I see you soon and that you send your – wait, when is your project in season?

Leif Gasch: This fall. It’s pretty warm out there right now so we’re just waiting for it to cool down still, so October/November.

Neely Quinn: Great talking to you, Leif.

Leif Gasch: Yeah, you too as well, Neely. Thanks.

Neely Quinn: Alright, take care.

Leif Gasch: You too.

Neely Quinn: Alright, I hope you enjoyed that interview with Leif Gasch. You can find him on Instagram @theelgee. What I took from that interview is that if you just stick with it and you keep learning and you use all of the resources that you have available to you, then you should be able to figure out something that works for you so that you, too, can send your hardest route ever. Thanks, Leif, for that really inspirational and motivational interview.

Coming up on the podcast I’m publishing an episode next week with Matt Pincus, who is our trainer here at TrainingBeta. He’s going to talk about how you can fit everything into your training schedule, which is impossible as we all know. What he’s actually going to talk about is what to prioritize in your training program and why. I think it’s super important and it was a really informational episode for me. That’ll be out next week.

If you need any help with your training, like if you want a training program to follow, we do have those at TrainingBeta. If you go to there’s a tab at the top that says ‘Training Programs’ and in there you’ll find a subscription program for boulderers, a subscription program for route climbers, and both of those provide you with three workouts every week. You go through six-week cycles of power endurance, power, strength, everything you need to be a better boulderer or a better route climber year round. You can find that at

Also, we do personal training. Like I said, Matt Pincus is our trainer here and he provides individualized training programs to people all over the world, depending on your goals and your equipment and your ability levels. You can find more information about that at

I think that’s it for now. That was a mouthful. Thanks so much for listening all the way to the end and I appreciate you listening at all. You can find us on Instagram @trainingbeta and on Facebook at TrainingBeta and yeah, thanks very much for listening. 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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