If you’re not yet familiar with the name Jimmy Chin, you likely know his work. As one of the most celebrated explorers, mountaineers and photographers-turned-documentarians, Chin is a man who defies all expectation and description. His life’s work is prone to hyperbole and exaggeration, with the kind of feats of human endurance and relentless drive that the mind reels to understand, let alone put into words.
After winning an Oscar for 2018’s Free Solo, Chin has continued to push himself to the limits – both in his leisure pursuits of climbing, as well as his own ambitious career projects. But as he explains to Men’s Health, it all stems from a simple mantra: “never get out of shape.”
As Chin explains, “My goal is to never get out of shape. I strive to maintain 80 per cent of my top shape so I can ramp it up at any time to get to an elite level. Bouldering gyms have made my life so much easier. It used to be that you had to drive somewhere and climb. With gyms like these, you can show up and climb for an hour.”
As a mountaineer and adventurer, it’s safe to say that to do the things he loves, Jimmy Chin actually has to stay in shape as anything less than peak fitness will result in an injury. And, given the extent of such climbs, an injury out on the mountains could result in drastic consequences. Even so, it’s a powerful mantra to live by and speaks to the kind of unwavering dedication Chin holds, one that extends not just to his fitness and training routine, but all aspects of his life, too.
For Chin, he used to spend any free-time he had available to him outdoors, but as work has recently taken off, greater time constraints have made it harder. “I used to spend ten-hour days climbing outdoors, and I could do that five days a week. Now with time constraints it’s a lot harder,” he says.
Jimmy Chin considers himself a climber first, followed by photographer then director, and for many it’s his feat of climbing Everest in 2006 to then ski the descent that has made his name one that is globally recognised. But even in his work, Chin is amassing a legion of loyal supporters and avid fans. For many, Chin’s work on Free Solo is the reason they entered their own local indoor bouldering gym and got into the sport, as the documentary film shed light on Alex Honnold’s goal of climbing El Capitan with no harness.
While Chin has been climbing for decades, he’s not prepared to start slowing down, something reflected in his gruelling training routine. “In the sense of pure rock climbing, I feel like I’ve been climbing as hard as I ever have.”
A fan of bouldering gyms, he also makes sure to get in a strength session that focuses on key movements and exercises like Turkish getups, kettlebell moves and ring pull-ups. Here are some of Chin’s favourite moves to incorporate into your next workout.
Chin builds the strength to climb with these 3 moves. Do each for 30 seconds, then rest 30 seconds; do 2 or 3 sets of each.
Build total-body strength and push your shoulders and core.
Double-Kettlebell Clean and Press
Build explosive power and strong hips.
This classic leg builder rocks your core, too. Use a heavy kettlebell.