Your Questions Answered

Last week we reached out to you to answer any training, sport or nutrition-related questions that may have been on your mind.
We've got some good ones to go over below!
Although we won't do this every week, please feel free to continue shooting over questions like this in the future. We can answer them on a monthly or quarterly basis if they keep rolling in.
How can I improve my reaction time to get to the puck quicker in hockey?
Great question.
First off, reaction time is not entirely a physical skill. It is just as much about your ability to focus on what is going on around you, along with how well you anticipate what's to come.
Wayne Gretzky used to say he never went to where the puck is, he anticipated where it was going and skated towards that area.
From a training standpoint, leg strength and explosive power development help with reaction time. So do the more 'elastic' training drills like plyometrics. And of course, you can train pure reaction time by doing drills that require you to react quickly to move in the proper direction when presented with 2 or more options.
How much protein do I need to eat every day to gain muscle? Should I be using protein powders?
This one is going to involve math!
A general rule of thumb to calculate daily protein intake, in grams, for muscle building is to take your bodyweight and multiply by 0.9. So a 100 pound person would need 90 grams, a 200 person would need 180 grams, etc.
This is a fairly high number.
Normal protein intake would be more like 0.6 grams per pound of bodyweight, so some supplementation of quality protein powders may be necessary to hit your mark.
Just remember that protein powders are always a method of last resort, because they lack so many of the other critical elements (vitamins, minerals, natural creatine) that help you to stay healthy and athletic.
Are 50 pushups and 50 sit-ups each day enough to make me get stronger?
Any athlete who puts in extra work like this, without having to be told by their trainer, coach or parent, should be commended on the drive to succeed they are displaying.
The best way I can answer this is as follows.
When you are working up to being able to do 50 pushups or sit ups in a row your body will adapt to the new challenge and get stronger. Once you achieve it, you won't gain any additional strength from this routine because you've already adapted to meet the challenge.
Much like life, you'll need a greater challenge to continue your development.
And as a side note, athletes at high levels of almost every sport need exceptionally strong and powerful lower bodies, so you'll want to make sure to add leg and hip development as well.
What are the best exercises to improve my vertical jump?
The vertical jump is a test of pure explosiveness.
To improve it, think of a car's ability to go fast. It must have a motor with lots of horsepower relative to the size of the car. Put a powerful motor in a sports car and it will go fast, but put that same engine in an 18-wheel truck and it won't pack the same punch.
Your muscle's strength and elasticity act as the motor in this analogy, with your body size being the type of car.
So the solution to improving your vertical is to build more horsepower through strength and power training, while limiting body mass increases.
Exercises like squats, deadlifts, bodyweight or resisted jumps all help most because they mirror the movement of the vertical.
Remember that mobility and coordination restrictions can lower your power output, so if you have a need you'll want to do drills for those areas as well.
Also keep in mind that sports rarely require 2 foot takeoffs when jumping, many times you jump off a single leg. So now you'll need to work single leg stability, strength and power as well if you want your vertical in sport settings to improve as well.
Last but not least, gaining excess weight makes it harder to jump high. If you're doing 12 sets of potato chip eating supersetted with 3 bottles of Gatorade on a regular basis, understand that this will cause some weight gain and will limit your development.
Thank you to those who submitted questions. Keep them coming!

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