Training stress is a fine art. Not enough intensity or volume and you have an athlete who is weak, unfit, and unskilled. Too much of volume and intensity and you have something similar, someone injured, overtrained, and not improving. A buffer zone in training is defined as the margin for error in one’s program and is highly influenced by how aggressive one is training to improve the biomotor abilities. Reducing risks while stimulating growth is the name of the game, so how to do it?
The concept of buffer zone is a tricky one as it includes many variables. The most obvious is intensity and volume, but other variables are often less discussed. Key components are distribution of loading in the joints, energy systems, and muscle balance. Also progressions, sequencing, exercise selection, and surfaces play an important role as well. The buffer zone can be manipulated based on how thin you want to be for margin of error, and how much risk you have of injury (how much fire you play with in regards to volume and intensity.)Simply put conservative programs often are steady, but the rate of improvement and the maximal potential is compromised. Aggressive programs are often successful because of cheat codes (doping, mega doses of therapy, and alternate means) and those areas are often inconsistent, but can be maintained with conventional programs after those performances are reached. With good program design and intense training done right, you can increase the stimulus while reducing the risks of overtraining and injury by broadening the buffer zone. Being too conservative is dangerous as the athlete is not exposed to the demands of the sport, and improvement is unlikely. Many professional programs in team sports reduce their buffer zone by going HIT or too conservative, resulting in the same injury rates year to year. With average talent you must push the envelope a bit as no risk is a defined road to set limits.