If you feel like you’re working hard and being consistent but seem to be hitting a plateau, you may only need to make a very simple adjustment. One easy thing to forget when doing cardio is how adaptive your body is. The initial program that gave you results will only sustain you for so long. This is true even when you’re doing interval training and high intensity interval training or HIIT.
After a time you will feel that it’s become easier to do certain things that were extremely challenging before. Congratulations, you are now in better shape and more fit! The problem with this is that your body composition and metabolic rate will now be less effected by the things that were previously working well. You will see less of a benefit from doing the same things. Often, people want to change their program and choose a different exercise or cardio activity. That is of course fine to an extent. Many people tend to add more duration, either in time or in rounds, to their cardio. This is also fine as long as you understand that it will create even greater and faster adaptation.
So what’s an easy fix? First, try to do some different cardio activities (at least 2) to minimize how fast you adapt. But an even better option for many is to increase your pace. When you do any type of cardio training related to time, either timed intervals or steady state, each session you do makes you better and your training less effective. For example, if you were doing interval training for one minute on and one minute off at a certain speed, after a time what once felt like it might kill you isn’t as much of challenge. You need to do that one working minute (whether it’s a hard treadmill run, elliptical bout, cycle sprint, or burpee push) at a faster pace. It needs to be as all-out as possible to keep your body at the maximum level of progression.
Yes, you can always add more rounds and time, but ultimately life’s schedule may put a halt to this. The one thing you can always do is simply go harder in the time that you have. So when you start to experience a slowing of your progress, you may not need to reinvent the wheel. Sure, change up your workout when appropriate and rotate in some different cardio options. But an easy and effective change may simply be to reevaluate the pace at which you’re doing your training and step it up a bit. Constantly pushing your pace will keep your body challenged and changing and it will keep you making progressing past the point where your body would have have hit a plateau.