Training is a relatively simple concept. However, we live in an age of information abundance that can sometimes overcomplicate the process.
Here’s how it works in its simplest form. When you train, you stress your body physically. When you recover, the body responds to the stress load you put on it and it overcompensates making you “fitter”.
There are two crucial aspects that are required in order to increase fitness. The first is stress. You have to stress your system in order to stimulate an adaptive response. Stressing your body at appropriate intensities is crucial and it depends largely on what your overall objective is. You may need to stress your body in different ways during different times of the year in order to achieve different things. Different coaches will have different strategies on what to stress and when.
The second crucial aspect is recovery. Without adequate recovery your body has a hard time adapting to new levels. Applying stress can happen over the course of a day, a week, a month, a year and recovery intervals should reflect the amount of stress you are applying. The intensity of the stress load is also incredibly important when considering recovery intervals. Generally speaking, the higher the intensity the more recovery is required.
If you have the right balance between stress and recovery your fitness will increase over time. If you have too much stress and not enough recovery you may end up in worse shape, over trained or injured. If you do not apply enough stress you will not really go anywhere but will achieve a nice home in mediocrityville.
So don’t get bogged down with all the information out there. Keep it simple- stress and recover. You have to do the work and then you have to recover from the work. And run away from anyone who is trying to sell you a shortcut- they don’t really exist unless you plan on cheating which is completely unacceptable and totally lame.