Thoughts, mostly weird ones, tumble inside my head like sagebrush on the open prairie. So, it should come as no surprise that one day last spring, as I sat and pondered, I conjured up the bright idea to jump out of a 55-gallon barrel. I recall reading somewhere that this was an incredibly difficult task, much like chugging a whole gallon of milk and keeping it down. But, I can’t pinpoint when I initially became aware of this. I have always jumped. Forrest ran, and I leaped. Growing up, I tried to jump everything including ditches, tree stumps, fences, picnic tables, and park benches. The latter caused me to get stitches in my shin area, but that’s another story. I guess I was just an excitable boy. You may be asking where I developed my jumping prowess. Well, it is all genetics. Similar to Navin Johnson from the famed movie, The Jerk, I too was born a poor white boy to an all black family in a predominantly German catholic community in southern Indiana. Yeah, right.

Jim Wendler of Elite Fitness Systems suggested I detail the plan of attack that enabled me to fulfill my summer of 2005 goal—to stand inside a barrel and, in one sweet and swift motion, land on terra firma without causing extensive damage to extremely vital parts of my anatomy. This feat is rather challenging. One cannot squat down to any productive depth because the knees hit the interior of the barrel, and arm thrust is severely diminished because the forearms and elbows are stopped dead in their tracks due to the lip of the barrel. The best and easiest way to figure out what I am trying to describe is to simply climb into a barrel and experience the obstacles yourself. I will list and describe several exercises that I believe enabled me to develop the explosiveness needed to launch oneself skyward out of the drum of death. Of course, this same explosiveness would be beneficial on the lifting platform or in any other athletic endeavor. Warning: Barrel bounding is not for the faint of heart or the rotund of girth.


Squats, 50 reps rhythm squats: I got these from Joe DeFranco’s website. These are to be done off a high box and are the equivalent of doing a quarter squat. Sometimes, I just use the end of a utility bench. I generally use 315 lbs of bar weight, or I use band tension that is similar to the straight weight. The bands work well because they keep the bar from bouncing. I do one set of 50 reps. For the first ten reps, I explode upward onto my toes. Then, for the next ten reps, I keep my feet flat on the floor. I repeat this until I do 50 reps. Exhilarating.

Safety squat bar squats: Often, I simply do a regular squat workout with the SSB, such as eight sets of doubles off a low box or something similar. I have a box that, when rotated or flipped, the box height varies from 13 inches to 17 inches, so I do:

·   13-inch for five reps, then flip with no rest

·   15-inch for five reps, then flip

·   17-inch for five reps, then flip

·   back to 13-inch for the final five reps

Your body is more shocked here then if you woke up with your head sewn to the carpet. Beautiful.

Band platform squats: I had a wooden platform constructed that is probably three feet by three feet. I take jump stretch bands and wrap them around the platform. I stand on top of the platform, and my partners drape the bands over my shoulders. The tension is immense. Reps are in the range of 15–20, and the bands are added until the reps are impossible. These are done off a 9” hassock. I often loop a purple band through a weight belt, and attach the band to a handle on the base of the platform. This attachment is in the front so it tends to try to pull you forward. My top set is usually a set of blues, a set of greens, and the purple in the front for 20 reps. Scrumptious.

Other exercises in the gym

Kettlebells: I do swings with one arm and with both. Typically, I use the 72 lb kettlebell for sets of 15 reps with the right arm, then 15 with the left, and fifteen with both. Nothing fancy. Add dish soap for more pleasure.

Reverse hyper trifecta: I perform ten reps on the reverse hyper doing normal repetitions. Then, I immediately do ten half reps, and then ten leg curls. The total reps per set is 30, and two sets are performed normally. Fantastic.

Outside drills and practice jumping

Tire sprints: I attach a harness, and I sprint down the alley pulling a tire that weighs approximately 150 lbs. The thing that makes this so interesting is the contrasting surfaces in the alley. One half of the alley is gravel, and the other half is rough concrete. The initial half of the sprint on the gravel is rather easy, and stride length is adequate. However, once the concrete is introduced, my speed is drastically lowered. Leg turnover must accommodate for the diminished speed brought on by the increased friction. This is just fricking lovely.

Deck jumps: I have a deck on the back of my humble abode. We never use the deck, except when I jump on it. I made a stone walkway leading from my sidewalk to the deck. The stones now serve as my launching pads. I stand on the stones and jump up the deck stairs, and hopefully land gracefully on the deck. I continuously try to move farther away from the deck. Essentially, I am doing a stand broad jump, but I am also trying to go upward as well as out. Splendid.

Barrel jumps: To prepare for the internal barrel leap, I jumped on top of 55-gallon barrels. I did this without stepping. I usually would do sets of ten. Confucius says if you want to go higher, then practice jumping. Be sure to have someone spotting and holding the barrel. Nice.

Obstacle jumps: I set up a variety of obstacles on my backyard sidewalk and then bounded over them. For instance, I would jump over deck chairs, then a keg, and then a large tire, spending as little time as possible on the ground. This may sound simple, but it is treacherous on the body. Careful.


During the summer I tend to do more strongman type exercises. I believe these also played a role in my explosiveness. Truck pushes and truck pulls with a harness, tire flips and tire backward pulls, and the dreaded wheelbarrow sprint with approximately 400 lbs of assorted weight. Typical.

There you have it. Power B’s sure fire way to impress neighbors and friends during the summer doldrums by pretending to be a human jack in the box, or, as my dad would say, “jackoff in the box.” After all these years, I still can’t impress the old man.

As you prepare for propulsion, I found it beneficial to repeat the following three times:

People see what I am doing, and they mock it.

But I am a missile, a V-2 rocket.

The barrels are a mighty bunch, but I can lick’em.

I am the Rocket Boy! I am Homer Hickum!

I invoke the powers of Werner von Braun.

The countdown is over, now I am gone!

Good jumping!