Next Stop, A 33 Inch Vertical Jump

In pushing for a higher vertical jump I’ve found myself looking for a “silver bullet” to make progress quicker. To nobody’s surprise, I haven’t found anything yet which has had a sudden, magical impact on my jumping ability. Instead I’ve learned a valuable lesson which is probably super obvious to everyone who isn’t me.

Maximum Effort, High Volume

David Zanchetta is someone you should care about if you want to know about jumping. Until recently, he held the record for McMaster University’s Men’s Volleyball team for max vertical jump, at 39 inches!

His advice to me is this:

I think my vert came mostly from jumping all the time! I played a shit ton of volleyball in high school. The biggest single thing for increasing your vertical is playing beach volleyball on a high net. It really forces you to get high up in the air just to be able to hit. One thing I know that can get you a little bit more is getting really hyped. The combination of adrenaline and a higher heart rate can really give you a boost. It needs to work for you, so maybe try and think of a way to get yourself hyped seconds before you jump. You might find that having some people watching can do it for you. Or listening to “Killing In The Name Of.” Something to get you amped!

So what I take from this is that you push your vertical into the high 30’s from jumping alone. Deep down, I’ve always thought raw strength had far more to do with it than it potentially does. I’ve thought that lifting (power cleans, deadlifts, squats) would be a faster route to increases in my vertical jump, but more and more I’m drifting toward the belief that the most important thing to do is to JUMP AS HARD AS I CAN AS OFTEN AS I CAN.

This seems so obvious that it’s almost difficult for me to believe. It seems like there should be a lot more to it. But the more I reach out to these ridiculously high jumpers, the more I hear that many of them didn’t even start lifting heavy weights until they were looking to make progress on their vertical jump at an advanced level (closer to 40 inches).

For someone who is already capable of jumping almost 40 inches and has been doing so for a decade, it makes sense that the best way to continue to see increases is to become stronger. And that means lifting heavy.

I’m not going to throw lifting out the window. I’m still going to lift a couple times a week. I’m just going to shift my focus and prioritize jumping, and removing any resistance preventing me from getting out there and doing it.

For example, I was all in my head about how I should be practicing on a 10 foot rim. But I’ve only managed to get to the court that has a 10 foot rim once in the past month! What’s wrong with just having a jump target in my driveway? Nothing. So that’s what I’ve set up. I’ve placed a target 33 inches above my reach, and every jump is now at full power because it’s just outside of my current ability and fuck do I want to hit that thing. When I touch it, I’ll know my max vertical has finally crept up to 33 inches.

And I’m hoping this will happen soon! Since April my standing vertical has gone up 1.75 inches. So I’m getting stronger. Those miserable god damned  workouts are doing something even if just barely. My max vertical gains have stuck at 1 inch and haven’t budged in over a month.

With higher volume at max effort, I think I’ll be able to touch 124.25 inches for a 33 inch max vertical by the end of July.

To put everything into perspective, I need to get my hand about 6 inches over a 10 foot rim to dunk. I will accomplish my goal once my vertical reaches 34.75 inches. My current vertical has been stuck at 31.75 inches since June. So I have 3 solid inches to go. The $100 bet comes to fruition in September when volleyball resumes. Hopefully those gains Seabiscuit my body at the very last minute so I can win that bet!

Or at least not look like I’ve been sitting on my ass all summer.

Dunk Progress Check on 10 Foot Rim

Craig Barclay, coach for the Trent women’s volleyball team, gave me some excellent advice last week. He said that I should start working on dunking smaller balls on a full-height (10 foot) rim. That way, I’ll be doing everything at full power in terms of getting off the ground – something I wasn’t necessarily doing when dunking on lower rims.

So, today I tried some single-leg dunks on a 10 foot rim.

I’m only just getting over the rim with my one legged jumps… but I think there’s room to grow with my single leg jumping technique. I should be able to get a little higher if I can attack the takeoff with more speed and drive my right leg up more explosively.

And I managed a new personal record today! I dunked a lacrosse ball with a two legged jump! I was super stoked about this. I felt like I got really good height, and I was happy to really throw the ball down through the rim at a good angle.

It looks like my hand is over the rim by a good amount if you pause the video at the apex of my jump, and this is really encouraging because I’ll be able to dunk a basketball once I can hit my wrist on the rim. Though there’s way more to it than that, as I’m slowly becoming aware of.

There’s also the significant factor of the skill needed to dunk a basketball, and this relates to timing, hand size (luckily I do have big hands and can palm the ball), and a variety of other factors – many of which are mental.

So – thank you Craig for the advice and for pushing me to a new personal best – dunking that lacrosse ball!

 

Dunk Journey Progress Report: Week 8

I’ve been doing vertical jump training for about 8 weeks now, and I’m beginning to see the first glimpses of improvement.

One thing I didn’t know, but makes total sense once you think about it, is that all basketball nets are slightly different heights. So I keep a tape measure in my gym bag and measure every rim before a dump/dunk session and that way I know whether I’m improving or not.

It also discredits any past performance where I wasn’t measuring the rim. For example, I have a memory of dunking a volleyball shoe from standing, like 6 years ago. Ya, that rim was probably low… 9 feet or something.

There’s also the significant factor of the skill it takes to dunk a basketball. So here’s my first dunk on a lower net (9 feet 6 inches).

And my first two-handed hang on a 9′ 10″ rim.

And a height check on a 10′ rim.

All the marbles are on the 10 foot rim. I need to be able to DUNK on it come September, or I lose $100 in bets with various friends. I have lots of ground to cover still. 8 Weeks of training and I’ve gained 1 inch so far. Probably a little more if I rest… but even without rest I’m jumping higher than I ever have in my life.

I’ve finally broken the plateau! Here are the measurements after 1 month of the “8 Inch Race” my buddies and I are doing:

vertical-jump-progress-measurements
Note: Myles was injured for the second set of measurements. Kyle got 4 inches in one month!!!

1 inch of gain in my vertical doesn’t seem like much for the insane amount of effort I’ve been putting into this. But it is. Zero would have been hard to recover from, so even seeing a little bit of gain is enough encouragement to keep pushing.

As of now, dunking on a 10 foot rim in September seems like a long shot. Most of the people I’ve researched have generally taken between 1 and 2 years to make dramatic improvements on their vertical jumps.

But having a big goal and some cash riding on it is great motivation to train, so I’m just going to keep working hard.

My Bucket List

I wrote down my bucket list a month ago, then this month I reread it.

Here’s the list of things I want to do before I die, followed by my own reflections regarding the list and my internal war with some of it’s elements…

My bucket list:

  • Build a strong family with Lia and our daughters, maintain loving, healthy, respectful relationships with each other as we all grow and change.
  • Become a grandparent – hopefully many times over!
  • Get barrelled.
  • Clear $200,000 in gross annual income.
  • Become financially independent.
  • Break the 5 minute mark on a breath hold.
  • Dunk a basketball.
  • Do stand up comedy.
  • Build/buy our dream house / land on water.
  • Teach my daughters to surf, free dive, spear fish, jiu jitsu, muay thai, soccer, volleyball, hockey, ultimate, golf, skateboarding, carpentry, code, knife throwing, climbing, canoeing, investing, business, mindfulness, goal setting/completion, music, art…
  • Leave the world a little better than it was when I arrived.

In reviewing my bucket list, I’ve realized that I’ve been holding back on going for the big goals. The most pronounced one is dunking a basketball. I initially didn’t put it on the is the list, then had to incrementally increase the goal from tennis ball to volleyball, and only now am I accepting the reality that I will one day dunk a basketball. IF I train!!

This acceptance is big. Overcoming my internal resistance to one of my biggest dreams represents a significant change in my forward progress. I’ve been static on that for a long time. Now I’m moving. Move on one formerly impossible big goal, and then move on the next.

I’ve been static on that for a long time. Now I’m moving. Move on one formerly impossible big goal, and then move on the next.

I’ve also been going through a restructuring of my time to forcefully prioritize time with my wife and daughters at the expense of time doing work for other people.

This has made me very happy. It has compounded the love I have for my girls, most potently with Isla. I have historically shut her out the most in order to work, and giving her my full attention has felt really good.

It is becoming clearer and clearer that earning Isla’s love is the most important thing to me, because I can see how it’s possible to miss out, even a bit, and not do as good a job as I could have, and fucking regret that.

Same goes for Lia and Lake. But right now Isla, at the stage she’s at, seems most urgent.

Following my bucket list goals to their ultimate conclusions, yes grossing $200K would feel amazing. As would attaining financial independence. But those without making an absolute success of my family would be damn near fucking meaningless.

Looking at it the other way around, I wouldn’t care much if I never grossed over $200K, it would be harder not to ever feel what financial independence feels like… but I’d be happy. I’d be SO happy. Like I am now.

I Never Thought I Could Dunk

Dunking a basketball simply wasn’t something my brain would accept as a possibility. At 32 years old, and being a  5′ 10″ white guy – I’ve done an excellent job of building an argument against myself.

Here are the main points:

  1. I’m too old. If I was ever going to be able to dunk, it would have been when I was younger and in my prime… whenever that was.
  2. I’m too short. How many guys do you know under 6 feet tall who can dunk? The shortest person I’ve ever seen dunk was 6′ 2″.
  3. I’m white. Everyone knows white men can’t jump. They made a movie about it. But wait! Harrelson dunked in that movie, no? Harrelson, also standing 5′ 10″, did dunk in the movie… but the rim was 6″ lower than the standard 10 feet.

Lame. Look at how they avoid showing how far his feet get off the ground:

The belief that I was not physically capable of dunking was holding me back for one simple reason: it became my main excuse to not train harder.

Then something changed when I saw this 5′ 8″ white kid dunking on YouTube:

And again when I learned that this guy is my height:

The main difference between Anthony Lugo and myself, is Anthony has put in the work to get that explosive. And I haven’t.

So I bought his “Flight School” vertical jump program, and I’m 5 days in. This is as sore as I’ve ever been in my life – and that alone tells me something. A new level of sore probably indicates a new level of training. A new level of training probably means a new level of jumping.

So, without any concrete evidence whatsoever, I now believe I will be able to dunk.

To put a bit more pressure on myself, I’ve made a bunch of $20 bets that I’ll be able to dunk a basketball by the time volleyball season returns in September. 5 friends have put $20 down, so I’ve got $100 on the line.

This money and social pressure adds motivation to my workouts.

Publishing this blog post further commits me to training hard.

If the 8 week Flight School program doesn’t get me dunking, I’ll re-commit by getting an online assessment with Chris Korfist. He’s a trainer with experience consulting for the NFL, Big 10 Universities, US Olympic team and U.S. Special Forces.

Update: before doing the Korfist one, I’ll try coach Donny: http://www.elevateyourself.org/online-training.html

Here’s my starting point:

 

Postgame Report on my 1000 Burpee Month

If you don’t see any change whatsoever, except for my pants – that’s because there hasn’t been any. Not a damn bit!

I almost didn’t finish. Half way through the month I was lagging way behind and a friend of mine (Shaggy – we rented his place for a bit in Hawaii) texted me that he was almost done the 1000 burpees. So I had to finish. I couldn’t have Shaggy finish my own god damn workout without me.

So I did somewhere between 50 and 70 burpees each day and caught up, and it sucked and I hated every day of it.

But the overall purpose of all of this – which is to force me to exercise every day mainly so I don’t end up staying indoors for 3 straight days and not changing out of my track pants – was a wild success.

I haven’t had that cagey feeling, that restless shitty “I need a shower” feeling – and not from exercise but from precisely the opposite. Nobody should ever need a shower because they haven’t exercised. And I was doing that. Or not doing it. And it felt like shit. So now I’m needing showers again because I stink because I worked out. And I feel way better for it.

This month, 1000 deadlifts.

Maybe there will be visible change, but probably not. I’m feeling the internal change, so that’s enough to keep me going.

That and god damn Shaggy texting me every few days with an update that he’s ahead of me in reps – again.

Check out my face in this picture. Looks like I have half an orange in my mouth and I’m about to cry. Probably was about to cry.

Ryan deadlifting in the snow

Retirement Progress Report 5

This report is going to be a little wild again. Leading up to tax season we’d stopped investing the HST we had collected, and starting withholding income for tax payment to compensate for the HST we had invested over the majority of the tax year.

This effort was in hopes that we could avoid selling any of our mutual funds to pay our taxes, and instead replace the HST we’d invested earlier in the year with out-of-pocket income.

It seems to have worked. We were able to cover the HST we’d invested, successfully exposing those funds to market appreciation over the majority of the tax year. That said, appreciation currently lags at +1.61%, which is actually great (I think). It means we’re buying below normal (7%ish) growth. Just as long as the market picks up again at some point in the next 10-20 years before we need to sell!!!

One solid decision was made regarding whether to pay off the mortgage more aggressively – which was not to do it. The main reason we’d relied upon in our past deliberation over this idea is our mortgage rate of 2.92% should underperform index funds on average (7%). But this choice is vulnerable to instances like this past quarter where our portfolio lagged brutally at 1.61%… though really that doesn’t matter until we sell… I think. We’re still good as long as we never sell at 1.61%!

But the decisive reason for not paying back our mortgage more aggressively is this: we have mortgage life insurance. I think we pay a combined $12/month for this insurance, so if either of us die, the mortgage is paid off.

It would suck to pay the mortgage aggressively only for one of us to die and have the remaining (much smaller mortgage balance) forgiven, AND have no other investments. Better to sock our money into indexed mutual funds and pay the mortgage at our normal rate for the time being.

If we max out our TFSAs, and/or we renew for a higher than 7% mortgage rate… we’d probably switch tactics… and we’d likely keep the mortgage life insurance anyway.

Another trap people fall into with paying the mortgage off early is this (thanks Kyle Collins for pointing this out!): once they no longer have a mortgage to pay each month, that “extra” money starts to feel disposable. Hedonic adaptation kicks in, and most people (and I would probably do this too) simply end up spending the extra cash on silly shit every month.

Winter-long trip to Costa Rica? Fuck it! Our mortgage is paid off!

This extra cash is only useful to our long-term financial stability if invested. For this reason, in comparisons between people who invest early in mutual funds versus people who pay off their mortgage early, the investors generally end up way ahead come retirement.

It just requires too much discipline to take all the money you would normally put toward a mortgage and immediately transition into socking that cash right into index funds… especially after the marathon of paying off a house!

After all that rambling, here are our retirement figures for the quarter:

TFSA: $36,829.37 (up $12,459.54 from last report… again this is a bit blown out of proportion because we’d been sandbagging leading up to tax season)

Mortgage: $163,575.34 (down $1,782.65 from last report)

Net worth shift: + $14,242.19

NEW METRICS! 

I’m going to attempt some forecasting here. I want to bake two new and exciting metrics into these quarterly retirement reports.

Metric 1 is a percentage representing our progress toward the $800,000 retirement goal.

According to the Mr. Money Moustache equation of “multiply your annual spending by 25 to see how much you need to have invested in order to retire”, my family would be comfortable retiring on $800,000.

MMM’s “safe withdrawal rate” of 4% works out to $32,000 – which would cover our annual spending. Assuming our mortgage is paid off, we can retire once we’ve invested $800,000.

Metric 2 is the number of years remaining until we can retire, calculated based upon a $30,000/year rate of investment.

Here we go.

To make things easier, I’ve added our mortgage onto the $800,000 to represent the total amount of money yet to be invested/put toward the house. That leaves us with a target asset value of $963,575.34.

Retirement Progress = $36,829.37 / $963,575.34 = 3.8% of the way there! Pretty fucking low, but far better than 0% haha. The early years are the hardest.

Here comes the compound interest. According to the moneychimp.com compound interest calculator, if we invest $30,000 per year for 15.6 more years at 7% we’ll end up with $964,882.15.

So at our current rate, it will take Lia and me 15.6 more years to reach retirement. If this is true, our 48th birthdays will be epic!

 

 

 

Baby Grip For Dad: The Jaguar

Mostly, us dads lack breasts. And when we have them we’re shy about using them to sooth our babies.

A solution – The Jaguar.

The Jaguar swaps mom’s nipple for dad’s thumb, and baby doesn’t know the difference. In fact, there may be ways in which The Jaguar is even superior to a boob.

In the remainder of this article, I’ll point out a few key reasons why I’ve relied so heavily upon The Jaguar in soothing both of my daughters during infancy.

1. The Thumb Nipple

The hand that cradles the face and head doubles as a suction opportunity for the baby. Your thumb becomes a pretty damn “handy” nipple! Just make sure you keep those nails trimmed and smooth, and obviously wash your hands before trying it. No need to give baby an unintentional first taste of wing sauce left over from lunch.

2. Better Scenery

I’m convinced having things to look at makes babies less pissed off. The Jaguar allows your baby to point outward, instead of inward at a hairy dad bod – making for a more enjoyable ride.

3. Single-Handed Operation

Being able to totally comfort your baby with one hand leaves the other hand free for all kinds of useful things.

One of my favourite uses for my other hand is to pat my daughter on the back for added soothing power. Though removing the other thumb first is a good plan if she’s just eaten (so vomit can get out).

So go ahead – give The Jaguar a try! Leave a comment if it works as well for your little one as it has for mine.

 

1000 Burpees? WHY!?!

So, without being obligated to post a workout video for the past couple days – I just flat out stopped working out. Damn! So much for a habit forming. And last night I had a crazy hard time falling asleep. Probably because my body is used to expending at least a bit of energy every day – and I didn’t do a damn thing.

Everywhere I look, it seems like people are talking about burpees. In the audiobook I’m listening to (Spartan Up) the author talks about doing 10,000 burpees in a week. Another author I follow talks about his aunt committing to 40,000 burpees in a year.

After a little Googling and YouTubing, I’m now convinced that burpees are awesome and that I should do some. So this month I’m going to do 1000, all of them outside. I’ll even post before and after pics to see if there’s any notable change.

Before pic:

Ryan before 1000 burpees

So far I’ve done 43 (18, 15, big rest, 10) and felt close to vomiting. Guess we’ll see how it goes!

The 1000 Rep Month: Day 70

I go for the 2 minute handstand in this FINAL DAY of this video series.

My goal in publishing a short workout video each day was to force myself to form a new habit of working out each day (in accordance with Google’s estimation that it takes 66 days to form a new habit).

Despite having completed the series, I won’t know if the habit has formed until I’m no longer socially obligated to post these videos. So we’ll see.

As for the deeper reason behind working out every day – which was to improve my mood – that has been a total success. I had been finding myself getting frustrated and cagey if a day or two went by without any outdoor time or exercise, and simply doing a couple minutes of (even super light) exercise (and preferably outside) has 100% abolished those shitty feelings.

Keeping that realization at the front of my mind in upcoming days will help keep this going off-camera. It feels great to get outside and move a bit. It’s not intimidating if I don’t have any expectations of myself in terms of workout intensity.

Along the way, I discovered that skipping and handstands emerged as being great fits for me because they weren’t intimidating at all, and yet forced a minimum effort (ie jumping high enough to get over the rope, or holding 175 lbs overhead for over a minute).

Even entering into either of these exercises with an internal motivation level of “half-assed” – the very nature of the exercise forces you to perform at a reasonable level.

So, after all that rambling, here is my final video in this series: