I am a firm believer that the human body can be put through a lot of stress and able to adapt if the mind lets it. At almost 38 years old I am going on a journey and writing about it. The question remains at 5 feet 9 inches tall will I be able to dunk a basketball by the time I am 40?
Is it too late to dunk a basketball at 40? This question remains to be answered, every individual will have a different response to training based on the current state they are in with regards to strength, power, and force they can produce. While also injuries and past experiences up until this point will play a major factor in how well they are able to adapt to any stress they place on it.
I have created a journal called Dunk Dad to see if I am able to dunk a basketball. I am hoping my older self remembers the thousands of jumps and recovers the strength I once had as a young buck. The problem is I am a lot heavier about 20 pounds or so.
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So is it possible for us older guys to dunk?
Yes, it’s possible, I think it’s not rare also, especially now more than ever training to increase vertical jump has come a long way compared to 15 years ago. It may seem like it’s impossible also as we don’t see a lot of older athletes dunking, but there are many that can.
For inspiration check out the Over The Hill Dunker Youtube Channel. Andy Nicholson re-started his journey at 43 years old and was able to accomplish his dream. He was even in a dunk competition shortly after. Andy still can dunk years later and he’s in his late 40s which is unbelievable and it doesn’t look like he is slowing down either.
For myself, I loved to dunk on lower rims, and shortly after high school, I wanted to improve my vertical so I could dunk in traffic. So I trained and trained with every program that I could get my hands on with limited results but….
I never did successfully dunk a basketball, but I do remember dunking twice on self lobs on rims that were one or two inches lower than a regulation rim. The high that got from completing a dunk lasted for a week. I am chasing that high again but in a good way.
Injuries and Life
Life takes over at 30 sometimes earlier sometimes later for others, we play less basketball, we workout less, and slowly our body starts to deteriorate. Not all of us but definitely most of us. Look around if your ar in your 30s, how many players are still playing basketball in their mid to late 30s or even 40s, I am willing to bet not as many as you once remember at a much younger age.
Injuries can also play a factor if you don’t take care of your body. Most vertical jump specialists say that you are able to increase your vertical at a later age but it will come down to the previous history such as injuries and what you have been doing prior to the long break before returning to training.
If you haven’t taken any breaks and are healthy your ahead of the game at your age, I am willing to bet you and I need to get out and start jumping like we use to. As long as you can stay healthy physically, the possibilities are still endless.
Are you going to be able to jump just as high as you could of when you are younger, who knows. But I do know powerlifters in their 50s are still breaking personal records, why wouldn’t we able to do so also in the weight room and the vertical jump.
This is something most everyone except professional dunkers overlook, is the act of jumping itself. Vertical programs, gimmicks, and gurus emphasize everything in the book but actually trying to dunk. It seems like only now we are seeing dedication to jumping to improve vertical with programs.
In order to get better at jumping, you need to jump and you need to jump a lot. You have to practice your technique so you can maximize gains in the vertical jump.
Plyometrics, Olympic lifts, and weight lifting exercises, in the end, are the only tools that we use to assist the vertical jump. This is why a lot of people are on programs and don’t see gains in their verticals because they have not practiced maxed effort jumps.
Professional dunkers are constantly jumping along side working out with plyos Olympic lifts and heavy lifts for their legs. It is only as difficult as you make it.
Gains will come slowly when practicing jumping but it is fun when you have a hoop of your own to practice on, you can set it really low if you want. You will naturally jump your highest regardless of practicing different dunks. Move it to a challenging height? Even better to max out your jumps.
It is inevitable you are doing a ton of jumping now you are going to have sore knees. Don’t think it’s because of your age that is the reason why. Even young athletes and pro dunkers get sore knees. Take care of them by icing and stretching. If it hurts too much stop.
In regards to dunking, most of us have a hop that we are practicing on, a good idea is to put a rubber mat underneath hoops where you are going to land. This will help save your joints from further soreness and pain. Thank me later.
If your working out with squats, your knees can have a tendency if you’re doing them incorrectly to make your knees sore, learn the proper form. Strangely enough, I read that when squatting every day with weights, the pain from your knees overtime can go away as it builds tough tissue and muscle around the knees. That is definitely a bonus for me as I had ACL knee surgery when I was 25 years old. Haven’t had issues since recovering though.
The Long Road
So where am I at this point in the journey? As of right now, I am working out with squats… every day. I warm up do 3 sets of 5 and I am done. The following day I add another 5 pounds and do it all over again. Are you out of your mind? Yup!
I started with 135 pounds on the bar and for the last few weeks have reached 200 pounds. When I reach 215 pounds I am going to do 3 sets of 3 reps. Once I plateau from there I will use singles. It’s really not set in stone, but I will be cutting down the volume to no more than 10 reps a workout for the full squat.
The overall goal is 2 times my body weight, right now I am doing sets of 5 with 200-pound son my back, and not going to lie but it does not feel light. While performing the reps it’s not hard but it’s not easy either.