Supplements that increase your vertical jump
Dunk a Basketball like Blake Griffin?
One of my resolutions this New Year was to dunk a basketball. Not that wimpy “limp the ball” in the hoop crap, but an actual slam. You know, like Blake Griffin status. Ok, maybe not exactly like Blake Griffin, but you get the idea…something I could be proud of.
Logically, I wanted every advantage I could to get me that much closer to the rim. When you’re after a prized, pristine slam, every millimeter counts. So I Googled “supplements that increase your vertical jump,” and everything that came up was junk. There was one site that recommended fish oil and a multivitamin. Yeeahh…if that is all it takes than my grandma would be dunkin’ it and doing pullups on the rim afterwards.
Frustrated, I eventually decided to do my own research and sift through a variety of different medical research articles looking for supplements that have been observed to enhance specific functions. These “functions” are essential building blocks to jumping higher, faster, and better than anyone else. I focused on:
- Neural Potentiators: Neural potentiation is a fancy way of saying, “augmenting the mind-body connection.” That means when you go to jump as high as you can, your brain fires more signals to more muscle fibers, helping you recruit more muscles in your attempt to reach the sky. Supplements in this category increase that connection.
- CNS Activators: a.k.a. stimulants. Stims affect the Central Nervous System, revving it’s mighty engine. Breathing rate, metabolism, and you guessed it, strength output are all positively affected. In a way they are another form of neural potentiators. Different, but similar with respect to their ability to increase focus, control, and total power.
- Fast-Twitch Muscle Fiber Recruiters: Hopefully you are familiar with the importance of fast-twitch muscle fibers and their importance in sports. These muscle fibers are responsible for short, powerful bursts of strength, but fatigue very quickly. Supplements in this category aim to increase the prevalence of fast-twitch muscle fiber use and make-up in muscle tissue.
What I discovered was absolutely incredible. Many supplements that are being marketed as antioxidants, joint support, or improvers of heart function were also showing great potential for increasing my vertical jump. Think of it as their “off-label” use. So without further adieu, here it is, the All Star Health Supplements That Increase Your Vertical Jump Collection:
- Alpha GPC: This stuff was my most promising find. It assists in delivering choline to the brain and has been shown to increase max rep output by up to 14%. Post-workout Growth Hormone response was also twice as high with subjects supplementing with Alpha GPC compared to the placebo group. If that wasn’t enough, Alpha GPC was also shown to increase high-threshold motor unit recruitment (fast-twitch fibers).
- Caffeine*: A well-known stimulant that increases muscular contractions during exercise, boosts energy, and increases focus.
- D-Aspartic Acid: Stimulates NMDA receptors in the brain.
- Alpha Lipoic Acid: Lowers blood sugar levels and is a protector of brain and nerve tissues.
- Creatine Monohydrate: Should be obvious by now, creatine makes everything better. More power, more ATP, more creatine please.
- Beta-Alanine: If you’ve ever taken a pre-workout supplement containing beta-alanine, you’re probably familiar with the beta-tingles effect. This supplement has been shown to slow the onset of lactic acid building up in muscle cells. In short, beta helps you edge out those extra reps just a little bit faster. On the court, it translates to a more powerful jump and more of them.
- Coenzyme Q10: With doses over 300mg a day, CoQ10 supplementation was shown to modify slow-twitch muscle fibers so that they act more like fast-twitch muscle fibers.
- DMAE: Reduces fatigue, improves memory and cognition, and stimulates neural activity in the brain.
- Phosphatidylserine (PS): Important for maintaining healthy cortisol levels as well as promoting healthy brain function.
- Vinpocetine: Improves cerebral blood flow and facilitates ATP production in brain cells.
- Acetyl L-Carnitine: Improves brain function by enhancing acetylcholine and dopamine neurotransmitter activity.
*RECOMMENDATION: Take a scoop (or two) of a pre-workout drink like Jack3d or N.O. Xplode 30-40 mins before you plan to smash the rim. These drinks contain caffeine among many other, albeit not as strong, CNS activators.
Exercise & Workout Routine
Although these supplements provide the fuel to ignite a flaming hot dunk, you NEED to provide the spark to get the fire burning by actively exercising your vertical jump. You can’t expect to pop some Alpha GPC while you kick back on the couch and wolf down potato chips, then hop outside during the commercials and fly over the hoop. It just aint gunna happen.
Sticking with the theme of brevity, here is my list of exercises that will help put the above mentioned supplements to work on enhancing your vertical jump:
Weight Room Exercises:
- Barbell squat jumps: Load up 10-45 lbs. on each side of the barbell and perform 3 sets of 4-6 reps as fast as possible. Focus on generating as much power as you possibly can. Tip: jump into the ceiling.
- Body-weight max effort jumps: Same as above except without a barbell. Do 3 sets of 8-12 reps. Basically, jump as high as you possible can without any added resistance.
- High-rep barbell squats: Do a set of squats in the 20-50 rep range. Exercise research has shown that extremely high rep multi-functional exercises like squats and deadlifts increase vertical jump. Don’t ask me why, but I’ll trust the science.
Track & Field Plyometrics:
- “Touch the sky” jumps: Run and jump as high as possible using one leg at a time. I like to do 3 sets of 50m length each.
- Frog jumps: Think of this as an explosive body weight squat but jumping forward (like a frog) instead of straight up and down. I like to do 3 sets of 50m length each.
- 40m & 100m sprints: Perform 3 sprints of each (preferably before your touch the sky and frog jumps) at 100% max effort.
Successfully Combining the Supplements & Workouts
Here is a training program I designed to help you succeed in increasing your vertical jump:
Day 1 (Monday): Weight Room Exercises (sets and reps listed above).
Day 2 (Tuesday): Track & Field Exercises (sets and reps listed above).
Day 3 (Wednesday): Rest.
Day 4 (Thursday): Weight Room Exercises.
Day 5 (Friday): Rest.
Day 6 (Saturday): Track & Field Plyometrics.
Day 7 (Sunday): Rest.
- Before Workouts (30 min): 600mg Alpha GPC and 400mg Coenzyme Q10 with a quick energy source such as a banana, nutritional bar, or simple carb supplement like Endurox R4 or Accelerade. Also, take 1-2 grams of Beta Alanine with your pre-workout drink. *Be careful not to take too much beta alanine, because a lot of pre-workout drinks like Jack3d already have beta alanine in them, and you’ll end up getting a severe case of the all too familiar “beta-tingles.” Extra: 300mg DMAE and 10mg Vinpocetine can be taken (if not already in pre-workout drink).
- Immediately After Workouts: Whey protein shake with creatine and glutamine for recovery. Also include 100-400mg of Coenzyme Q10.
- With Breakfast: 100mg Coenzyme Q10 + 7g Epharm Testforce 2 (D-aspartic acid), Alpha Lipoic Acid 300mg, 100mg PS.
- With Dinner: 100mg Coenzyme Q10 + 7g Epharm Testforce 2 (D-aspartic acid), Alpha Lipoic Acid 300mg, 100mg PS.
- Twice Daily Between Meals With Water: Acetyl L-Carnitine 500mg.
IMPORTANT: Do not overtrain and do not neglect recovery. These workouts are very demanding on your CNS, joints, and body. If you fail to adequately rest in between workouts, you will be very disappointed in your results and further your risk of injury. It’s hard to believe, but even Blake Griffin takes rest days.
Wrapping it all up
With these exercises, supplements, and a little dedication there is no reason why you can’t add a half foot or more onto your vertical jump in as little as 6-8 weeks. Who knows, maybe one day you’ll be able to dunk it like Blake Griffin (not).
P.S. Buy a pair of basketball shoes. Flip-flops and Toms aren’t so good…And don’t forget to take your fish oil and multivitamin.