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Cardio Training: 5 Tips to Push Through a Plateau

Oct 14, 2009

At some point in any weight loss or cardio training journey, there will be a plateau. This plateau is a specific period of time where there is no change, either no fat loss or no improvement in cardio training. This is the body’s natural reaction to diet or fitness. The body will do everything possible to maintain homeostasis, which is what may be experienced as a plateau. The answer is change. Confusing the body through constant change in cardio training can end a plateau. Here are 5 training tips to push through a plateau:

1. Include Strength Training

Strength training increases lean mass, boosts metabolism and strengthens bones. By building muscle, strength training helps the body burn more calories. It is important to maintain the constant change even in strength training. Change the order of the exercises. Change the types of exercises. Change muscle groups that are exercised during the same workout. Change the number of sets. Change the amount of weight used. These changes will create muscle confusion and work the muscle groups in new ways.

2. Engage in the Right Cardio Training Program

A consistent, unchanging approach to training, like walking for 30 minutes everyday, will not yield long term results. Choosing a cardio training program with change built in pushes through a plateau. Interval training is a great solution. Instead of walking for 30 minutes at a consistent pace, an interval training approach would be walking for 30 minutes, changing speed and incline every 1 to 3 minutes.

Circuit training is another great cardio training program. Circuit training combines cardio training and strength training, rapidly switching from one exercise to the next. These rapid switches increase and maintain increased calorie burn for up to 48 hours after the workout.

3. Change the Cardio Training Program Every Four Weeks

In order to keep from dropping into another plateau, it is important to maintain change in the cardio training program. Changing cardio training, as well as strength training, every four weeks or so will keep calories burning.

4.   Increase Intensity

Increasing intensity is one of the easiest ways to push through a plateau. Research has shown that short, high intensity workouts burn the most calories. Increasing intensity can be done by increasing speed or resistance. Try reducing resistance and workout at that level as rapidly as possible. For example, when walking, reduce incline from 10% to 5% and walk or run as fast as possible for as long as possible, then recover.

5.   Try Something New

Step off the treadmill and try the stairmaster. Or switch between the stairmaster, elliptical and treadmill in 10 minute circuits. The point is to try something new. This works well for those who may not be fit enough to increase intensity too much. Merely changing activities, even if the intensity is the same, will work the body in a different way and yield results.

Try a new sport or a fitness class. The answer is change. When seeking constant change, anyone can push through a plateau.

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