Mens Health caught up with LaVine the week before all those ups and downs for an inside look at player who does the literal up and down better than just about anyone in the league: the dunk. And how does the 2x NBA Slam Dunk Contest Champion do the dunk? I feel like I got a lot of it from working out and doing plyometricsdoing different squats, explains LaVine, as he shows us down to the basement of his Chicago apartment, which hes converted into an iron man cave. I worked extremely hard at it with weights and jumping.

Weighted exercises like trap bar deadlifts and plyometrics help give LaVine the leg strength and explosiveness he needs to get up high. But LaVine also has some natural hops; he says he first dunked as a 58 eighth grader after going up for a layup and accidentally was high enough (LaVine was drafted 13th overall by the Timberwolves in 2014 when he was 19 before getting traded to Chicago for Jimmy Butler a few years later).

LaVine has his routine. He wakes to an alarm, arrives at practice an hour early, eats (eggs, tomatoes, bacon, ham, sausage and a smoothie are all in the mix), stretches in the training room, and then starts shooting. During the season, basketball is every day. Still, LaVine says he comes down to his own gym 3-4 times a week for recovery. Mostly, LaVines goals are maintenancehigh reps to keep him in season shape and retain muscle, but not put on too much. Im not the biggest guy, but I try and stay strong for my position, he explains.

LaVine still works out with his dada former professional football player. The pair does resistance training in the sand, which LaVine says keeps the workouts creative and fresh.You gotta fall in love with the process of it, he says. Theres gonna be good days and bad daysjust like life. It teaches you mental toughness.

LaVines dunk-aiding diet includes plenty of preparation (and pasta on game days), all of which he says has actually helped to elevate his game. Though vegetables are often absent from LaVines kitchen (Youre not gonna see a whole lot of green in here, he jokes, pointing to his fridge), hes become more disciplined. Im a giant sweet tooth person, LaVine says. And he admits the stories are trueevery once in a while, you will indeed find candy in his socks; he likes jolly ranchers. Now, LaVine turns to fruit for a sweet snack or popcorn for a healthy savory alternative. How does he prepare his hot dog on cheat days? Chicago natives might want to cover their ears for this one.