In the Gym With Brandon Todd, 5’5” Dunking Machine

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As a teenager, Brandon Todd realized he probably wouldn’t make it on a professional basketball team. At just 5’5”, he didn’t look anything like the professional slam-dunkers he saw on the TV screen. So he tried everything — special sneakers, instructional books — and finally settled on a program that worked his whole body until it was ready for dunking. Today, Todd is the inspiration behind Flytright, an app that helps other people learn to hone their dunking skills in a matter of months. Greatist caught up with Todd and found out what a seemingly superhuman athlete is like in real life. 

You started playing basketball when you were in high school, right?

I started playing high school basketball as a freshman. I started on a varsity team. At 14 I was sort of tall, at 5’3” [or] 5’4”, for my grade. So I found out I wasn’t gonna’ grow anymore and I was like, “Well, better do something else.”

Was there one specific moment when you decided you wanted to try to be a dunker?

Yes, I will never forget it. Basically what happened is I was watching the old TV shows on ESPN about NBA greats of the past and I remember I saw [Spud Webb, who is about] 5’7”. I had never seen anybody that small dunk before. I’d only seen Michael Jordan and big players but when I saw [Webb] dunk I was like, that means I can do it, too. Maybe if I really, really try. I jumped; I barely got the net. I was like, okay, I have a lot of work to do. So I researched all this stuff, I started going to work out, and then slowly but surely over time I got better.

You just taught yourself how to do it?

When I was in college [I had an] exercise science and kinesiology professor. She knew nothing about sports [but] she knew about muscles and how they worked. I remember talking to her about the muscles and how to jump and she said, “Well why don’t you look up old Russian [weight lifters]? They’re all big and fat; they’re all short; but when they celebrate they jump really high off the ground because of their lifting technique.” I researched [the lifting techniques] and I learned how to do some of them. And then next thing you know, my sophomore year of college, I could do anything. I could put my face on the backboard; I could bite the middle of the net with my teeth.

Were there dunking or jumping programs you tried and got frustrated with?

Oh, please. I tried everything. If it existed about trying to dunk, I bought it. I convinced my mom to buy every damn thing possible. And the only thing I learned from all of this is it seemed like every exercise program had the same workout. So I got to college [and] I realized I needed to work on more than just jumping. I realized jumping requires your whole body. So basically every week I did this program, which is the Flytright training program and app. Every week I’m forcing myself to get better but never hit a plateau. Everybody always talks about how white people can’t jump. I had white kids, Asian kids grabbing the rim with two hands. Now everybody can reap the benefits of what I had to work so hard to get.

So right now you’re a fitness instructor.

It’s like a yin and a yang; I have a perfect life. I actually train older women throughout the day but then when I come home I get to train elite athletes. I think the most gratifying thing about my job is that it helps me be able to reach an[other] audience and help kids. [Todd teaches group classes with boys and girls ages eight through 15.] ’Cause you know growing up where I was in Ohio in the mid-90s, early 2000s, money was scarce. So that’s why when I first came out with Flytright it was free because I can’t charge a million dollars for it because a lot of kids don’t have it.

What’s your daily diet like?

Seventy to 80 percent of my diet is strictly protein. The two smallest points are carbs and fat. The reason for that is simple logic. Muscle needs protein to stay strong and to grow.

Do you have a basketball hero?

Oh my goodness, I feel so corny to even say it, but Michael Jordan. You kidding me? Greatest basketball player of all time. [He had] determination, self-discipline.

Brandon Todd’s Workout 

Want to builds hops like Todd? Here's a sample workout from the man himself:

"At 5 a.m., I go for a quick 3-mile run. This is always done outside. If I must use a treadmill, I leave it on incline 3. I do this 6 days a week. Three to four times a week I do a physical routine in the evening."

Evening Routine:

I. Warm-up: 

Light stretches to loosen up.
Jumping Jacks: 4x50
Sprints: 4x50 yard sprints
Squat Jumps: 4x25
Crunches: 4x25

II. Main Workout:

Flyt Circuit: 4x15 (Dumbbell Curls, Squat Presses, Tricep extensions, High Pull Snatch, & Arm Pit Jumps)
Squats: 4x10 (Squats must end on toes)
Barbell Incline Bench: 4x10
Pushups: 4x25
Flyt Burpees: 4x15 (described in the app)
Second Flyt Circuit-4x10 (described in the app)

III. Cool-down:

5-15 minute walk on the treadmill. I have the treadmill on the highest incline and a speed of 3-3.5. These movements force athleticism and an increase in your vertical leap, speed, endurance, explosion, and strength.

Have you always wanted to dunk? Let us know in the comments below or tweet the author @ShanaDLebowitz.

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About the Author
Shana Lebowitz
I'm the senior writer at Greatist, and I mainly cover new trends in psychology and mental health. When I'm not hanging out at Greatist HQ,...

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