Power Meals

In the past half decade I have always payed attention to my nutrition and on top of that I have studied it in detail, reading books, attending seminars, etc. I thought I had a handle on things until I started training clients the whole day while also training myself and still putting in hours towards basketball. I soon found out it was hard for me to get the hang of preparing meals, eating like I believe I should.

My friend Rich stepped in and gave me advice on how to get through the crazy schedules and training while still eating the highest quality food. I was a little hard headed at first but decided to listen as I realized I wasn’t eating to support my goals and on top of that I was spending a bunch of money eating out since I didn’t prepare meals.

We were discussing this a little while ago and though it would be a good idea to have Rich write up a short post on preparing great tasting meals to support your goals (and maybe some crazy story he has…we’ll have to discuss that one though). I’ll let Rich take it from here……

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Can You Handle Big Al?

Growing up in Slovenia where there is a lot to do in the outdoors and the fact that I loved training, it was only a matter of time before we started training outside a lot, as there is nothing better than fresh air, the “wild” and lifting heavy stuff, throwing it and sprinting up hills. We started gathering in groups and going to Tivoli, which is a park on the outskirts of the city,  where we would bring our kettlebells, ropes, kegs and we had some heavy logs and stones already there.

Even though we didn’t have the best programming back then, that training produced some of the best gains in strength, speed and resiliency that I have ever got through training. Part of it was the actual environment as it was a group of dedicated athletes that really pushed it, but much of it was also the strongman training and odd object training that we used. More and more people joined the group and the results were always crazy because of the combination of the environemnt, like minded individuals and training methods.

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Vertical Jumping 101

Every basketball player wants to be able to dunk, especially when you’re younger! I was no different and even though I trained endless hours shooting and ball handling skills, the capability I wanted almost more than anything was to be able to dunk. I went through almost every program A-Z (ail alert, jump soles,etc…). I can’t even remember all the names, but all of them advertise adding 4-10 inches to your vertical jump within two months (or something in that manner). In all honesty none of them really worked. I improved on some of them but it was never close to what was promised.

I have never been a genetic freak with a crazy amounts of fast twitch muscle fibers or anything like that. I always busted my butt and trained hard, even though I can’t tell you how many mistakes I made along the way. The first time I dunked was when I was 17 and I remember it clearly (it just like remembering your…..fill in the blank). I took off one foot and it was official as confirmed by my team mates. I say that because when you almost get it, you tell people that you can dunk (I’ll be honest I did that too).

The first time I dunked was basically from training hard and getting in the weight room where I really pushed the intensity even though I can honestly say that I didn’t have much rhyme or reason in the exercises or programming. It was after I dunked the first time that I really started studying everything I could about it because when you get the taste you just want to jump higher. I can honestly say that I’m still chasing that 40” vertical even though I feel its not that far away. When I get it I will know that every single inch came with hard work!

What the proper training can do for a non genetically gifted 5′11”, 200 lb guy

This is after Monday’s crucial leg day…

10 years after my first dunk I want to explain jumping higher really simple as I get asked questions continuously and even though I have written a couple of articles on it, it seems like people still search for gimicks and want me to tell them that it will work and that “that” program is the real deal. You have to understand that when programs are put together without much understanding of how the body works, the science and reasoning behind why the training methods are effective, it will not work and in many cases it will cause more problems than good.

So here is vertical jumping 101. Everyone has heard about power right? Well a vertical jump is an expression of power.

Power = Force x Velocity

You know what, I don’t even want to go there and bore you with the science of it. The qualities that need to be trained to see consitent gains in a vertical jump are as follows (you may be good at some and real bad at the others so pay attention and work on your weakness):

1. Movement Pattern, Control, Stability. Before you can ever reach maximal power you have to be able to control your own bodyweight and move it through the proper movemnt patterns. Start learning a skill and do it right so that you do not develop improper movement patterns. Learn squats, lunges, deadlifts, jumping techniques (yes, there is a proper way to jump), etc.

2. Maximum Strength and Power. Since jumping is an expression of applying as much force as fast possible, then we should train to produce a lot of force, thus lifting heavy stuff. Relative strength is really important here. Make sure you have the proper base conditioning and technique before you go lifting really heavy loads though (common sense is not very common nowadays so I have to mention this). We also have to work on power which means lifting submaximal loads fast. You can train for power using just bodyweight, adding additional load t o bodyweight, moving lighter weights fast or attempting to move heavier loads fast.

3. Range Of Motion. This would be considered flexibility and mobility training. You have to have proper range of motion to execute movements optimally and maybe even more importantly it will keep you injury free (being injured will definitely result in the lowest vertical jump believe me). Tight hip flexors are definitely a no no and nearly everyone could work on their hip flexibility and mobility. One thing to also keep in mind is that having too much flexibilty is not a good thing.

4. Being Able To Absorb Force. To be able to exert force you first have to be able to absorb it. Your vertical will only be great when you have made sure that you are able to stabilize eccentric/negative forces. I’m talking about the countermovement when you wind up to jump. Your tendons and muscles are like rubber bands and they store energy, so basic strength levels and being able to absorb the force is a must before you start training the nextstep.

5. Reactive/Plyometric Training and Short Response Reactivity. I know everyone has heard about this one as most people will just focus on the plyometrics (not always the best idea to do lots of plyo’s if you have not taken care of the previous steps). It also has names such as elastic strength and spring proficiency. Many people that are strong but cannot jump high need to train this as they cannot apply their force quickly enough. The good part that this quality is quite highly trainable. Short response reactivity is the time your foot spends on the ground during a sprint or a run up. This movement occurs much faster than a regular vertical jump and the shorter it is, the better.

Rate of force development, don’t try this at home kids

6. Starting Strength. This is the ability to apply as much force as possible at the beginning of a movement without any elastic energy. Starting strength is rate of force development which means its a must. My favorite exercises here would be the box squat, deadlift, box squat jump, etc.

There are definitely more factors that influence vertical jump but I feel these are the ones that are misunderstood when I get asked questions.

In all honesty though a good program should include much more than just a focus on improving the vertical jump and it should have a wholesome approach that makes you a better athlete at your sport. We will have our athletes gaining pounds of muscle and going up with weight while becoming fatser, more explosive and increasing their vertical jump.

On a seprate note I have to share what I had seen in a mainstream gym today. The free weight area had exactly 28 people in it and not one was doing a leg exercise. More than half were doing biceps and triceps exerices while the other half was doing bench press, shoulder and ab work. After further investigation I realized that out of more than a 100 people in the whole gym there were 2 that were doing legs, one on a leg press and the other on a leg extension. The only thing I could think of was that you have to be shitting me! A great tip is to do exactly the opposite of what the average Joe is doing…..

If you have any more questions about improving your vertical jump then jut drop them in the comments section. Let me know what you have been doing for your vertical and whether it has produced results.


How Strong Is Strong Enough?


I get people constantly asking me how much they should be able to lift (sadly it mostly pertains to the bench press) and it is a tough answer because most of the time they do not tell me what sport they play or what they want to achieve with training. Many of them will get frustrated with me because I don’t have a short answer that would fulfill (or crush) their ego and curiosity.

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The Prowler Is Mandatory

Since my basketball playing days I have always payed serious attention to my conditioning and even though I was mislead in my younger years, I have to say that I was always known to be a well conditioned athlete that could go at a high intensity for the whole game. But the truth is that you can always get better and you can always be more conditioned!

Its been over a year since my first ordeal with the Prowler and I can remember getting it and being real excited about incorporating it at the end of the training session. I started pushing it high and then low on the reversal while switching with two other athletes. I felt confident as my conditioning was good but around 5 minutes into the Prowler workout I started “feeling it” in a not so good way. I stopped and called it a day thinking I’d be fine only to find out about 5 minutes later it hit me. I felt like I had got the flu, sweating, hot, nauseaus and looking like death. It took me a half hour to gather myself and that day I realized that the Prowler was no joke! This is where the term “Prowler Flu” comes from.

I have been incorporating the sled for years and the Prowler for less than a year now and I can honestly say it is the best piece of equipment to get athletes conditioned like mutants. Just like Joe Defranco said, I don’t know the scientific theories behind it and I don’t care, the Prowler will make you a monster when it comes to conditioning - period.

Here is some clips of a couple of Hocevar Performance’s athletes (me included) running the Prowler and the newbies experiencing “the flu”.

The Ride

The Flu

You have to go above and beyond if you want to be in the lead and be a champion. It doesn’t matter what you do in life, you can’t put in half the work and reap all the rewards. All the hard work, commitment, pain and persistence pays of more than you can count, it’s priceless! If you are ready to take that step to be a champion, you want to be around people that are among the five percentile and want to fulfill their potential then the doors at Hocevar Performance are open……you just have to step through.

What are some of you guys doing for conditioning? Are you using the Prolwer and the Sled?  


Get Out Of Commercial Gyms Now!

Just returned from my trip home in Slovenia and Im tired but excited to get things rolling in the new year! It was great to see everyone and spend time with family and friends and as always time flies when you’re having fun.

I fit a lot into the trip as I wanted to take my wife to Venice (I will have a short video and some thoughts from that trip) and spend a couple of days in the mountain cabin while also getting in my training. Even though there was tons of excuses why I shouldn’t train, I wanted to stay on point in achieving my goals and make sure that a couple of extra meals go where they need to (hint: muscles). On top of that the training helped me get more energy as I had jet lag for about a week!

While I was in Slovenia, my friend and brother told me that they have been training olympic weightlifting once a week in this old gym, and that I need to join them for a training session. As I am always intrigued I obliged, especially because they told me that it was real old school and they even had some kettlebells that are like a 100 years old. After arriving I realized that the coach is a former national team weightlifter which made it real good, because I have been meaning to work on my olympic lifting form. 

So how big was this place and what type of equipment was in it considering that top level athletes and even olympic athletes have trained there (and still do!). Check it out for yourself….

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