I often hear people say, “I want to lose weight. I need to do more cardio.”
And when they use the term “cardio” in this case, they usually mean long distance steady-state cardiovascular activity.
Guess what though?
Steady-state cardio, while it may help initially with weight loss, is often why people hit a PLATEAU in their progress.
Have you gotten immediate results by upping your cardio only to hit a plateau while you’re still logging the same miles?
It’s frustrating, right?!
I mean…How is that possible?!? If you’re still working hard, why aren’t you getting results still?
It’s because your body adapts! Which ultimately IS your goal. It means you’re getting stronger and more efficient.
BUT that adaptation is what can also make steady-state cardio less effective for weight loss over time.
So either you need to up your miles or your speed so that your body is forced to keep adapting.
The problem is…with this steady-state, long distance cardio, often we don’t necessarily have the time to up the miles. And we can only increase pace so much.
So then what do you do if you want to continue to get great results?
ADD IN INTERVALS!
Yes, strength training is a HUGE important piece of the puzzle if you want to lose weight. BUT just focusing on the “cardio” side of things, there are changes you can make to improve your results.
And adding in intervals is one way that you can make your cardio workouts work for you so your body is constantly challenged and forced to adapt.
Now I’m not even telling you that you need to start doing HIIT workouts at the gym. You can use intervals or tempo training even with your runs or rides.
Heck, they can actually even BENEFIT your longer distance rides or runs and may be the missing link in your program. AKA even if weight loss isn’t your goal, if you want to hit a PR next race, you should add in some interval training!
Intervals can be as short as 12 second bursts or even 5-10 minute in length. You can also vary rest, shortening or even LENGTHENING the rest, based on your goals.
But by cycling your intensity you can challenge your body in new ways to bust through those plateaus. You can also work all three energy systems to improve your speed, lactic acid tolerance, endurance and work capacity.
Intervals allow you to cycle intensity to work on specific “weak links” in your conditioning!
It’s not just about logging more miles. It’s about making the miles logged work for you!
If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you!
So if you’ve hit a plateau in your progress with your current cardio, don’t necessarily feel like you need to up your miles OR spend more time working out.
Instead add in some interval training and vary those intensities and how you challenge you body DURING those miles!
Ready to dial in your workouts and use interval training?
Learn more about how shorter workouts using just your own bodyweight can help you get lean and strong!