“Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.”

William Shakespeare

A while back, the site Straight to the Bar featured this clip of Scott Jackson bustin’ off some phenomenal, Parkour-inspired moves.  Seeing this clip again recently got me to thinking about a few of things.  First, I wonder if each individual is limited by some inherent power/bodyweight ratio?  Actually, I know a mechanical limit exists — structurally, our bones, ligaments, tendons and musculature can only handle so much stress — I’m referring here to practical limits.  And how would one go about figuring that limitation?  Would we even want, in a psychological sense, to know that limitation?  And second, this got me to thinking about the intersection of power generation and MetCon work; specifically, exercise selection.  And not just exercise selection alone, but exercise selection with an eye toward targeting an identified energy system.  Most sporting endeavors require a highly tuned and efficient combination of energy systems to “fuel” the participant through the event.  Identifying and training these systems properly is, or should be, the lone goal of MetCon work.  You might want to read this post first, if you haven’t already.  Then come back here and check out some of Scott’s unreal moves.  As you watch, ask yourself (1) what energy systems does Scott rely on mostly, and (2) how would you go about training him without diminishing, in any way, his form, technique and skill?  Just a few things to ponder while you watch:


Another thought that bubbled-up in my mind while watching this clip is just how “springy” Scott is.  What do I mean by that?  Well, there’s a subtle, but huge, difference between the body’s levers acting as a spring, as those same levers acting in the manner of a piston.  Good sprinters quickly transition from the “piston” action of the start, to the “spring” action of the stride; good jumpers come off the floor like a spring, jumpers who need work “piston” themselves up and airborne.  But more on that in a later post.

In health,



  1. Keith,

    great power/weight + great elastic recoil properties of non contractile connective tissues + great technique = great momentum = springy athlete?

    or something like that?

  2. Don’t forget balance! And what about the “fear factor?” I mean, he doesn’t HAVE to do his tricks up 40 feet; a lot of the clips are on his backyard set-up, but even that, for some, is just scary! Flipping, flying … and then dropping! That is psychological, not physical, but do you think it is connected in some way, beyond the obvious self-preservation aspect? Am I making any sense?

    • Perfect sense. It definitely places the cns on red-alert, that’s for sure. And we know that a jacked cns will lead to an increased recruitment of FT muscle fiber (and the trickled-down result of that occurrence). A nice synergy at work, then, I’d say.

    • Whoa, that’s some serious body control — and a fine display of phenomenal power/BW ratio. I wonder what kind of instantaneous watt generation is going on there?

      • Indeed. The part where he catches himself in the bottom of a hand stand, and then presses out of it . . . absurd.

        I think the risks outweight the benefits on a lot of the stuff he does, but it surely is incredible. I think some of the skills, like this, could prove useful to anyone though. Some great hip extension, (he even mentions engaged the glute-hamstring chain!).

  3. Keith,

    This comment is on your twitter post: “Show me a great vert, and I’ll show you a great athlete; simple as that” I have to agree. What do you consider a great vertical? Skyler and I have traded a few emails on developing the vertical jump. I had a lot of success in my younger days by directly training the glutes using statics and negatives on a homemade hip and back machine.

    I’ve got a 12 year old son who’s already got a pretty good vertical for his age and I’m interested in any information I can find on how to safely train him to increase it.


    • This sounds like a great blog post topic, but in a nutshell, I’m not convinced that training specifically for an increase in the vert will do one any better than overall, well rounded training will afford. That is to say, natural vert ability is more indicative of athletic ability than a “trained for” vert, if that makes any sense. However, I will say that within a trained individual, an increase in that person’s vert (once increases due to technique betterment have been realized) are indicative of that athlete’s overall betterment. And I don’t think that a vert exists in a vacuum — bodyweight needs to be accounted for as well (as well as “training age”). We want to compare apples to apples,so to speak. Which brings us back once more to the ol’ power/bw ratio.

      • Interesting thoughts. I think there’s a bit of a gray area between “natural” vertical and “trained for” vertical. There’s some training going on just by participating in certain sports. It’s probably not real efficient training but it still contributes to a degree.

        In my own case increasing my vertical dramatically improved my basketball game. I’m not sure my technique changed at all so it was probably all due to in improved power/bw ratio. I was always fairly quick but when I increased from 30″ to 36″ on my vertical it was noticeable. My first step quickness improved a lot.

        • To be sure, there’s lots of variables to consider — nothing exists in a vacuum. Tangentially, this reminds me of the “Notre Dame syndrome”, whereby year after year, ND would bring in the nation’s top (on paper, at least) football recruits only to produce perennial lackluster, under-performing teams. ND would bring in kids of remarkable athletic talent — for example, a 6-6, 280lb DE with a 33″ vert. The kid would graduate 4 years later — at 6-6, 280, with a 33″ vert. No improvement. Meanwhile, the kid that was ignored by ND and who went to Michigan State put on 60+ lbs of lean mass and went from a 30 to a 36 inch vert. My point? The vert is a fabulous indicator of talent — if used in the appropriate context. And, targeted training of the posterior chain (which will assuredly boost one’s vert) is the best weight room “transfer” training I know to boost one’s overall athletic performance.

          • Keith,

            What would you consider a great untrained vertical? Let’s say you were coaching middle school and wanted to evaluate potential. What about high school and college?

            Nobody really strength trained back when I was in high school in the early 70’s. At basketball camp it was unusual for anyone to be in the 30’s. Now that’s pretty common.


          • David,
            I don’t have much experience with youngsters — my experience is with upper-level high schoolers and above, and that is limited to football and baseball athletes. Baseball is heavily tilted toward the talent/skills end of the spectrum, which regulates athleticism to the “nice to have but not necessary” category. In football players, the vert is very position specific. Defensive cornerbacks are *usually* the best athletes on the field and usually posses the best power/bw ratios. I’ll put it this way, a High school senior (corner/FS/SS) with a relatively untrained 34-ish vert at approx. 180# (for example) and with “raw” skills would get my attention for further evaluation much sooner than a kid of the same size with a 30 vert and great skills.

  4. I’m glad you posted this again! Love this vid — Scott is incredible! He appears quite tall yet so agile, powerful and ‘springy’ as you said (just like the guy in Bryce’s vid too). Height is apparently not a limit to gymnastics.

    What do you think of Oly lifting translating to better verts? My trainers at Xfit say that is the secret… It’s true I think. I notice the best Oly lifters jump at diablocrossfit clear the highest heights on box jumps.


    • It may just as well be that the best box jumpers make for the better Oly lifters; in other words, I do believe that there is a lot of “nature” involved in this equation. A high percentage of FT fiber + a jazzed cns make for superior explosiveness. But yes, as a rule, I’d advocate for the inclusion of Oly lifts and their derivatives for anyone wanting to increase their all-around explosive power. Smartly programmed plyometrics as well.


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