When it comes to supplementation, there is actually a few very specific, scientifically backed supplements that any serious vertical jump aspiring athlete should consider taking.
The supplements I’m going to recommend today aren’t just general health and fitness products but I’m actually going to explain their carryover to vertical jump training.
The best supplements for increasing your vertical jump are creatine, magnesium, and collagen combined with vitamin C.
Before we get started, you should understand that supplementation should be seen as merely icing on the cake to a well-rounded diet.
If your diet sucks, there’s no point in reading this article because you’ve got way bigger fish to fry.
I’d suggest checking out the article I wrote where I give five vertical jump specific diet recommendations so you can understand how to create the perfect diet to go alongside your vertical jump training.
So without further adieu, let’s get right into the list!
I’ve ordered these supplements from most important to least important.
1. Creatine Monohydrate
This one’s simply a no brainer.
This supplement increases energy, allowing you to undergo larger workloads and it also helps muscles recover during your workout.
I actually saw a study which directly showed that creatine supplementation does make you jump higher…
Creatine supplementation resulted in a significant improvement in peak power output during all 5 sets of jump squats and a significant improvement in repetitions during all 5 sets of bench presses.1https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29619799/
Of course this is likely because it makes you stronger and gives you more energy in general, but the positive effects of creatine on explosive movements are well documented.
Creatine is also relatively cheap and super simple to use.
It’s also the single most researched sports performance supplement, so you know this stuff works.
Some supplements you take and don’t seem notice much difference, creatine definitely isn’t one of those.
If you’re a serious athlete and you’re not taking creatine, you’re likely doing yourself a disservice.
If you’re new to supplementation, creatine is the best place to start.
I prefer taking capsules as opposed to powder, as you can quickly wash them down with a mouthful of water and don’t have to mix up a shake.
You can grab yourself the same creatine supplement I use below.
Even though I’ve got this as my second most important supplement, you absolutely do not have to buy protein powder!
In an ideal world, you wouldn’t need it.
In an ideal world, you’d get more than enough protein via whole foods throughout the day.
The issue is that in order to keep protein synthesis up at high levels throughout the day, we need to be eating protein 4-5 times a day at least.
If you can get 4-5 meals in per day with at least 20g of protein in them, great! You likely don’t need to supplement with protein.
However for most people, simply sitting down to eat 4-5 times a day is a challenge.
I have the luxury of being able to do this and still wouldn’t get enough protein in each of my meals without supplementing!
For instance, I eat oatmeal for my first meal of the day…
I definitely want to be getting some protein in this meal but unless I add a scoop of protein powder to my oatmeal, I’ll miss that opportunity for protein synthesis.
I like to take some whey protein concentrate or isolate with breakfast and immediately after my workout.
And before bed I like to take a casein shake as it’s longer acting and can help promote muscle protein synthesis throughout the night.
Most people simply fail to get enough protein in their diet and if you’re looking to get stronger and jump higher, you cannot afford to make this mistake.
Using protein supplements can be a great and convenient way to help you make sure you’re getting it in.
To get my favorite whey protein isolate supplement, click the button below.
And to get my favorite before bed protein supplement (casein), use the link below.
Magnesium is an electrolyte that plays an important role in making sure our muscles and nervous system are functioning correctly.
Not only that, but there is some evidence to suggest that supplementation could increase vertical jump performance!
There was a fairly recent study done on volleyball players who were given a magnesium supplement…
Significant increases (of up to 3cm) in countermovement jump and countermovement jump with arm swing values were detected in the experimental group following magnesium supplementation.2https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24015935/
Magnesium is also closely linked to reducing inflammation.
As an athlete who is constantly beating up your joints and muscles, you want to be doing everything possible to keep inflammation to a minimum so you can perform at a high level for longer.
There’s also some more very relevant positive magnesium research for anyone aspiring to increase their vertical jump…
Check this out…
Some cross-sectional surveys demonstrated a positive association between Mg status and muscle performance, including grip strength, lower-leg power, knee extension torque, ankle extension strength, maximal isometric trunk flexion, rotation, and jumping performance. Additionally, findings from intervention studies showed that Mg supplementation might lead to improvements in functional indices such as quadriceps torque.3https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5622706/
Those findings seem pretty juicy to me!
When I first read about these benefits I decided to start taking a magnesium supplement to see if it would give me a slight edge.
There’s a couple different ways you can supplement with magnesium…
Use A ZMA Supplement
The best way for athletes to take a magnesium supplement, in my opinion, is to opt for a ZMA supplement (zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6).
These three ingredients when combined together create a powerful recovery effect, the most notable of which is reduced muscle soreness.
Here’s a link to the ZMA supplement I’ve been using for years.
Use A Magnesium L-Threonate Supplement For Improved Sleep
Magnesium has been shown to improve sleep quality, which, if you’re anything like me, is really useful.
Unfortunately the type of magnesium used in many ZMA supplements won’t effectively cross the blood brain barrier, meaning they won’t have much effect on sleep.
That’s why I’ve recently started taking a magnesium L-threonate supplement and my sleep has been fantastic!
You can order this particular supplement using the link below.
4. Fish Oil
When most people think of fish oil, they think of improved brain function.
It’s one of the most popular and effective dietary supplements simply because most people don’t get much omega-3 in their diet.
But I bet you didn’t know it’s actually quite good for recovery and explosive power too.
One study gave a bunch of fish oil to rugby players and found that it had a positive effect on reducing fatigue, as well as noting the following…
In terms of practical relevance, the moderate beneficial effect of adding fish oil to a protein-based supplement on muscle soreness translated into the better maintenance of explosive power in elite Rugby Union players during pre-season training.4https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29985775/
Another jump-related study looked at the recovery of jump performance and found that supplementing with six grams of fish oil daily, “optimized the recovery of jump performance and muscle soreness following a damaging bout of exercise”.5https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Effect-of-fish-oil-supplementation-dosing-on-the-recovery-of-vertical-jump-height_fig1_343275136
Six grams is quite a lot though and would be about double the amount it says to take on the bottle each day.
I think everyone should take a fish oil supplement regardless of whether you’re interested in jumping higher.
The fact that it has a positive effect on muscle soreness and explosive power should be icing on the cake!
Click on the button below to pick up the fish oil I’ve been using for years.
5. Collagen + Vitamin C
Collagen helps a lot with your bones and joints and also improve hair, skin, and gut health.
But the reason collagen interests me so much as a vertical jump related supplement is because of how good it is for joint and tendon health.
When you’re doing a lot of jumping and squatting, you’re absolutely slamming your knee, ankle, and hip joints over and over and putting some damage down on your tendons.
So if we can take some extra precautions to look after our joints, I’m very interested.
One study looked at supplementing collagen and vitamin C together about an hour before exercise.
The study found this combination to have a positive effect on tendon health.
These data suggest that adding gelatin (collagen) to an intermittent exercise program improves collagen synthesis and could play a beneficial role in injury prevention and tissue repair.6https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5183725/
This might be an especially good idea for anyone with patellar/Achilles tendonitis.
The study found that acute protective benefits were only possible when gelatin (or collagen) was combined with vitamin C, but that’s not to suggest you won’t see general joint health improvements just from taking a regular collagen supplement.
For me personally, this one is one I’ve just recently started taking and I’ve quite interested to see what effects it has on my ability to recover.
Click the link below to grab the collagen I recommend (it includes vitamin C in it).
BCAAs are, in my opinion, another supplement you can throw into the optional basket.
Simply because, if you’re getting enough protein in already, you’re likely getting most of the benefits of these branch chain amino acids already.
That said, there is a time and place for BCAAs and they may offer some recovery benefits, especially if you might be undershooting it on the protein front.
While there is some research that shows BCAA supplementation to improve recovery, it’s pretty weak and the verdict is still out as to whether this supplement is worthwhile or not.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits and research.
BCAAs Decrease DOMS
Aside from promoting protein synthesis, BCAAs reduce delayed onset muscle soreness according to a 2010 study.
DOMS showed a peak on Days 2 and 3 in both trials, but the level of soreness was significantly lower in the BCAA trial than in the placebo.7https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20601741/
Why is this important for vertical jump?
Less DOMS means better performance.
Whenever our muscles are sore, we simply cannot lift as heavy or jump as high as if they felt good.
Ideally, we want to put ourselves in a position to have the best workout of our lives every session if possible.
Best Used As An Intra-Workout Supplement
There’s a reason BCAAs are prescribed as the ultimate ‘intra-workout’ supplement.
It’s actually because you supposedly ‘feel’ less fatigued during long workouts when taking BCAAs, even though performance doesn’t necessarily increase.
During the 60 min exercise at a given work rate the subjects ratings of perceived exertion when they were given BCAAs were 7% lower, and their ratings of mental fatigue were 15% lower than when they were given placebo.8https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9124069/
Unfortunately other research suggests there may not be any performance boost from taking BCAAs as an intra-workout, but if you’re able to feel less fatigued and find yourself in a better mental state, that’s a pretty significant performance boost in my books!
Improved Mental Cognition
Why is this relevant to vertical jump training, you may ask…
Well, whenever we’re lifting something really heavy or trying to jump as high as possible, there’s a pretty big big neurological component that comes into play.
How efficiently your central nervous system operates is a huge factor in vertical jump performance.
BCAAs have been shown to block the production of tryptophan which causes central fatigue.9https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16365097/
Doing really heavy squat attempts, for example, causes massive CNS and psychological fatigue.
If we can reduce this cognitive fatigue somewhat, then that’s a good thing.
Some research has also shown that this effect is so pronounced that you’re actually mentally sharper while taking BCAAs.
The performance in the Stroop Colour & Word Test performed after exercise was improved when BCAAs had been ingested during exercise, compared with the results from the placebo trial.10https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9124069/
This could prove particularly useful if you’re an athlete who plays a sport which requires some degree of thinking (i.e. think basketball IQ).
What Supplements Do I Take?
I consider myself to be a pretty serious full time athlete.
I do everything I can to get the most out of my training and recovery has become a huge part of my training philosophy recently.
Right now all I take is the following.
- Multivitamin – Just to make sure I’m hitting all the bases in terms of nutrition and not missing anything. Since my diet is pretty simple and highly repetitive, this is a good way to ensure I’m not developing a deficiency while dieting.
- Fish Oil – Always have, always will. I’m not going to do a whole write-up on the benefits of fish oil supplementation, but this is one of the best things you can take for overall health.
- Creatine Monohydrate – Any athlete of any age looking to get bigger, stronger, or jump higher should be taking creatine, in my opinion.
- Magnesium L-Threonate – I’ve had horrible sleep onset insomnia for as long as I can remember so I’m attempting to cure myself of that ailment with this particular type of magnesium. So far I’m having great results and will keep taking it if I keep sleeping well!
- Apigenin – Again to assist with sleep.
- L-Theanine – Also for sleep.
- Whey Protein Isolate – Whey protein isolate is one of the best, purest, most bioavailable types of protein powder out there. It’s usually more expensive than your typical whey protein concentrate, which also works very well. WPIs usually contain almost no carbs which can be good if you’re being really strict on the macros.
And that’s it!
I want to make it clear once again that none of these are going to come close to having a really solid, well rounded diet.
You could replace all of these with diet alone if you did it right.
But that’s often tricky, inconvenient, and expensive.
Supplementing can help make your life easier.
But don’t for a second think you can take a bunch of supplements and neglect your diet.
Diet 100% comes first.
Once you have that about as optimized as you’re going to get it, then look at supplementation.