The human body is a very complex thing. It is kind of ironic to me that in order to make it bigger, stronger, faster you must introduce it to different kinds of stimuli that force it to break down and tear muscle fibers. Even when training to increase our aerobic or anearobic conditioning we must allow ourselves to temporarily submit to some kind of pain of muscle fatigue, lactate production, immense amounts of blood flushing in a particular region of our legs or arms (swelling or pump)......so hence the term "no pain, no gain". A lot of young athletes that I get the opporunity to train here at Apex understand that it takes hard, uncomfortable work to get better, but very few of them understand how important rest is in the equation.
When we train, like I hit on above, we are actually breaking the body down aka beating it up! The only way we actually get better or accel at what we are training for, is to take the appropriate amounts of rest! I tell all the athletes I train that if they want to get taller they better be getting at least 8 hours of sleep every night! Period! The body only heals and grows at rest/sleep. If everyday we beat up our bodies by training non stop improvements will never happen and if your lucky enough to still see some improvement you're still severely blunting your potential to the real gains. The main problem with a training athlete is seeing the importance of sleep. If you don't get enough sleep your body doesn't have the opportunity to heal, and your next training session will be lacking the proper intensity due to your energy level. Lack of sleep can also affect your appetite, forcing it to crave more sugar than necessary, and can blunt your bodies ability to metabolize fat. So instead of staying up all night watching reality TV or browsing(stocking) people on facebook....GO TO BED.
How long should I rest?
Well it depends what and how you are training.
Depending on the kind of strength training you are involved in, you should take roughly 48 hours off between high intensity sessions with a particular body part.
My athletes typically strength train every other day here at Apex and follow a total body routine with functional total body movements.
Speed and agility Training?
This kind of work can potentially be done everyday. Because so much of what we do is technique development and muscle patterns, some sort of speed and agility training can be done each day. There are specific days (Linear speed explosive sessions) where we do a lot of plyometric or jump training and with the intensity, we would not want an athlete doing that on back to back days but would rather them have a rest period similar to strength training.
What is active rest?
Active rest is something that all athletes can take part in. An example of active recovery is going on a 20 minute run at a slow easy pace. This will not exert the body enough to cause it to break but actually can help stimulate faster recovery for the next days training session, simply due to movement. So something slow and easy, enough to break a sweat can be beneficial on a rest day. And as always should be followed by a nice long intense stretching session!!