This is part III in a series titled "Training the Modern Athlete". Click here for Part I or here for Part II
There is an old saying that goes, you should use everything in moderation, including moderation. This is true regarding training. If you train at moderate levels, you will get moderate results. The body needs to be pushed to its limits on occasion to enable the athlete to reach higher levels. Just think about it, you go to the gym every day with a goal to lose a few pounds. You do the same routine every week. You workout at the same intensity level every day. You eat the same type of foods every day and the scale doesn't budge. You are training moderately and therefore your results are minimal. You do not challenge yourself to accomplish greater things and this leaves you in your current situation.
Track & Field coach Charlie Francis had a theory on why some athletes don’t perform to their full potential at the big track meets: their lows were too high and their highs were too low. When they were supposed to be winding down in their training (this is low intensity) they went a little too hard and it effected them on competition day. They weren't as fresh as they should have been. On the flip side, when the program called for high intensity, it didn’t quite hit the level that it should have. The highs were too low.
So, if the goal of training for that given day calls for high intensity work, it better be high! If you do not challenge the athlete to push to new levels, they will only see moderate results. Intensity must be increased on these days. After a tough training day, the following day may call for low intensity work. If we train too hard on this day, then our recovery plan gets all out of whack. Our low intensity day became a moderate workout and we do not get the restorative benefits that we hoped for.
This is a delicate balance when developing a training plan. You can’t just go crazy and train like a madman all the time. But you also cannot have mediocre or easy workouts all the time either. There should be a steady ebb and flow to your training. The plan should have some light days, mixed in with some hard days, mixed in with some medium days. This should allow the body to recover from the workouts, to stay healthy, and to allow you to workout to your full potential each and every session.