Getting Over a Plateau

by Angela Yorke | June 23rd, 2011 | Cardio

The first few months of a cardio regime are always the best, despite what your aching lungs might tell you in the beginning. Unfortunately, the body has a way of upsetting the best fitness goals by plateauing after a certain period.

There are a few signs that signal that your body has achieved a balance between the effort exerted during cardio and its resulting effect. Essentially, you begin to see little to no progress in your cardiovascular fitness, or weight or fat loss despite working out regularly, which can be discouraging. Fortunately, like all minor setbacks, you can overcome a plateau.

One way of getting out of the rut is by injecting some variety. Switch from running to swimming or aerobics, or alternate between activities to rev up your enthusiasm again. If you prefer to frequent the gym, use the step machine more often than you do the treadmill. Alternatively, create your own new routine by using the step machine, the treadmill, and the elliptical machine.

This is particularly effective if you are relatively new to fitness in general, and are as-yet unable to greatly increase workout intensity. Workout intensity may remain the same, but the very difference in activities chosen carries you over the plateau. An exercise switch-up can be carried out every 4 weeks to minimize the chances of a plateau occurring and prevents you from becoming bored with your routine as well.

Another way to overcome a plateau is by increasing or decreasing the intensity at which you usually workout. Decreasing intensity might sound counter-productive, but it gives the body a chance to rest and regain its receptiveness towards cardio activity. Increasing the intensity of a workout is easier to understand – exertion is increased, the body builds more strength, burns more calories, and emerges from the plateau.

Similarly, varying the frequency of your cardio sessions has the desired effect of revitalizing stagnating fitness levels. The same sentiment can be applied to the duration of a workout, giving new meaning to “less is more,” I suppose.

Rather than despair over how the scale keeps showing you the same weight, the onus is on you to find ways and means to improve your fitness. To use a cliché, change is inevitable.

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All health and fitness information is provided for educational purposes. Please consult with your physician before beginning any exercise regimen.