My Plan to Dunk at Age 50: The Routine

6 min readJun 10, 2024


Last week I wrote about my barbell routine and told you I’d cover my dumbbell routine this week.

I float between these two routines at will.

I’ll spare you the waiting and list the dumbbell routine framework, then explain the details:

Workout 1

  • ATG Split Squat 6 x 12
  • Back Extension 2 x up to 20
  • Full-Range Overhead DB Press 2 x up to 12
  • Full-Range Row 2 x up to 12

Workout 2

  • DB Slant Squat 6 x up to 20
  • Nordic 2 x 5
  • Full-Range Incline DB Press 2 x up to 12
  • Full-Range Pull-up 2 x up to 12

Workout 3

  • Reverse Step-up 6 x 15
  • Full-Stretch RDL 2 x up to 20
  • Pullover 2 x up to 15
  • Face Pull 2 x up to 15

I do each one like this…

ATG Split Squat…

-other exercise

ATG Split Squat…

-other exercise

Until all 6 sets of ATG Split Squat AND other exercises are done!

I INTENTIONALLY start bodyweight-ONLY on the ATG Split Squats, slant squats, and Reverse step-ups.

I only GRADUALLY add loads.

I go up to whatever loads FEEL GREAT.

Sled, extra mobility, calves and various other accessory work can easily go in before, during or after!

I keep my preferences up to date in the app and I’m often testing different styles of keeping my accessory work in.

My go-to flow at present is:

  1. Sled or resisted treadmill…

2. Then lower legs…

3. Then simple and optional flexibility basics…

4. Then the main workout formula…

5. And I finish with optional accessories for the core and upper body.

Ben’s Zone > Ben’s Current Program allows you to toggle between my barbell and dumbbell versions, with my exact preferences kept up-to-date and listed in full.

The barbell version automatically calculates your weight targets based on your Monday squats.

The dumbbell version intentionally DOES NOT HAVE TARGETS.

I do my barbell routine when I’m feeling like “I want more muscle AND I want to see if I can jump even higher than I’ve done before.”

I do my dumbbell routine when I’m feeling like “I want to dunk when I’m 50 and I think this is all I need to get there.”

The balance of these two routines suits me well.

I’m in my 30s with two kids and I have mixed goals.

I’m grateful to have had no injuries or body problems since Alissa and I had kids. I don’t want my training to risk injury.

But I also want a bit more muscle as the protector of my family.

And I still have a competitive itch which leaves me curious if I haven’t actually hit my jumping limit yet.

All that being said…

My #1 physical goal is still dunking when I’m 50.

As someone who reached my 20s having never dunked, being ABLE to slam is more priceless than knowing how well I could slam.

So I enjoy using a barbell as it’s an advantageous tool to challenge and measure strength.

However, I don’t believe it’s “mandatory,” so I have my backup routine which limits the loads to dumbbells.

It’s not that you can’t load up dumbbells, but they’re a bit self-limiting in terms of maximum load compared to a barbell.

I’m only in my 30s, but Derek Williams and Geoff Reed are 46 and 47, respectively, and each regained the ability to dunk in their 40s.

I’m in a small group chat with both of them and we discuss the “dunk at 50” topic often.

So my theories on dunking when I’m 50 aren’t as important as their theories because they’re closer to reality.

They’re paving the way, and together we form a powerful little knowledge crew when it comes to realistic solutions for athletic longevity.

Derek runs the Longevity section of the app, with Geoff’s Weekend Warrior program also being in Derek’s section. You can even see my mom’s exact program there, too. She’s quite an athlete for age 70!


Perhaps the most unusual thing ATG contributed to the exercise world is the idea of training “from the ground up.”

This is a concept, not a mandate.

The idea is to train your ankles, then knees, then hips, then upper body, “earning” your way up your body.

Both Derek and Geoff have gravitated to this style as well.

It doesn’t mean we always train this way, but I’d say it makes up the bulk of our training.

This article proposes the next unusual concept:


In exercise, volume means the total amount of work done.

Intensity means how HARD you push.

People have had results with many combinations of these two factors.

So these are not absolutes, but in my coaching experience, deep leg exercise gets HARDEST to train in relation to age.

Let’s make an example:

If I asked the average 50-year-old to do a set of bicep curls right now, they could get near their best ability, relatively safely.

But if asked the average 50-year-old to do their best ATG Split Squat without easing into it, it wouldn’t be pretty!

On the flipside: AVOIDING deep leg work isn’t what I’ve seen work, either!

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEASE into the deep leg work for longevity and enjoy some VOLUME, with less stress on intensity.

Then as you move up your body, use fewer sets because otherwise it wouldn’t really be fair to your legs if you did 6 gentler sets of a leg exercise and 6 harder sets on an upper body exercise.

Hence: “Volume Legs — Intensity Upper.”


I see a lot of online arguments over “volume or intensity?”

Who says you can’t do both?

Yours in Solutions,


PS. To fully nail my plan to dunk when I’m 50, I realize I need to break down the actual JUMPING plan itself. I’ll be back next week with a STEP-BY-STEP plan for the acts of running and jumping.




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