Rest and Recovery When Training for Speed

Training for SpeedTwo of the biggest mistakes made when training for speed are misunderstanding how to properly manage rest between sets and recovery between training sessions. I understand why this happens. We often feel as though every set, exercise and workout has to be incredibly difficult. We live in an era where more is better and the harder the workout is, the better it must be. I’m certainly not opposed to hard work (I feel it is an important part of training), but the feel of the workout should be very different when training for speed vs. doing conditioning work.

Conditioning is all about stressing the body’s ability to create energy. It’s metabolic in nature, and the stress of the workout forces the energy production systems of the body to adapt. When this is the goal, rest periods are usually shortened and the volume of work increases.

Training for speed is very different, and the focus needs to shift toward quality of work. Every rep counts when you’re training for speed, and you need to be fresh in order to make that possible. Fatigue greatly affects your ability to produce force and use proper mechanics. So, if the goal is to improve speed, you really need to manage fatigue. This will allow you to get maximal results from your speed training program.

Managing fatigue means adhering to rest periods early in the workout so you don’t tire out too early and including shorter rest periods when a greater metabolic impact is desired. Performing shot, high-quality bursts has a greater impact on the nervous system which is critical when training for speed. The nervous system is responsible for contraction speed and coordination, so you want to stimulate it with high-quality work in an effort to boost its performance.

Recovery between workouts is another critical factor to understand when you improve your speed. In the “more is better” era, we often get sucked into the idea that rest is for wimps. Again, I love a great work ethic as much as anyone, but speed development is about training smart, and full recovery between workouts is just intelligent training.

You want to be fresh for each workout so you can give every reps 100% effort. If you’re not fully recovered from your last workout, you may not “feel” tired, but you’re not going to perform optimally. Constantly practicing in a semi-fatigued state is a sure way to spin your wheels and you end up wondering why you’re not getting any faster. To combat this, it’s advised to allow at least a day of complete rest between intense training sessions, which means you’ll only be training 2-3 days a week. You can see where this would be a problem if you’re trying to do this pre-season or in-season when the practice schedule is far more demanding than this.

This is why the off-season is the perfect time for speed development. Of course, improvements can certainly be made at other times of the year, but it is more difficult to manage fatigue when additional physical demands are placed on you. I hope this helps you understand the role of rest and recovery when training for speed, and allows you to maximize your speed training results.

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