Stress - Friend or Foe
Stress is usually a maligned term for a state of unhappiness & anxiety to avoid at all costs - we are medicating for it, avoiding it and demonizing it. But stress is an important factor in getting stronger. Stress exhibits pressure on a person & garners a physiological response.
A simple way to asses whether a training program is working for you is to ask yourself "What kind of stress am I experiencing?"
A good training program will produce a stressor on your body that will exhibit change - muscle growth, fat burning, increased bone density, improved cardiovascular function, etc. This is referred to as "eustress", a type of stress that is beneficial for the experiencer. If you never train outside of a comfortable weight or pace you may never create the amount of stress necessary to see change. And so by avoiding stress (or challenges) you avoid growth.
On the other hand -if you are not recovering, if you're suffering from chronic injury or illness you are likely experiencing the symptoms of 'distress'. This is when a program creates more stressors on the body than the body can adapt to & to the negative affect of the athlete.
Oftentimes what is actually a beautifully written program that would normally garner 'eustress' becomes a bad program for reasons outside of the plan. Athletes I've spoken with frequently admit that in their eagerness to see results they are skipping rest days, pushing 100% on active recovery & often on top of poor sleep and nutrition. With any one of these elements, what becomes a scenario for gains becomes a distress on the body and the athlete no longer can recover quickly enough. There is such thing as too much of a good thing.
Trust in your program that you will adapt and grow, don't skip your rest days, don't regularly stack extra workouts, eat well, sleep well & the results will come. Don't fear the stress - embrace it, understand it & grow from it.
More on stress and good programs from Catalyst Athletics.