Can You Hit a Plateau on an Elliptical?

Like with any cardio machine, you can hit a plateau on the elliptical.
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When you hit the elliptical religiously, yet no longer experience the same returns, it's frustrating. The human body is an amazing machine; it figures out ways to do the same workout while burning fewer calories. It simply isn’t fair. Unless you keep exposing your body to new challenges, it will hit a plateau, whether you're working on an elliptical or some other equipment.

Plateau Basics

    When your body is no longer exposed to new challenges, it hits a plateau. To tackle this problem, first assess your typical elliptical workout. Find ways where you can change things up, such as adding in intervals, increasing the intensity or tacking on a few extra minutes. Shaking up your normal workout by adding in a few new elements is the fastest way to break through a plateau.

Switching Up Your Workout

    Without having to spend any extra time at the gym, intervals are a killer way to rev up your workout. Simply alternate high intensity activity with lighter activity. This makes your workout more vigorous, which translates to more calories burned. It also improves your cardiovascular fitness and helps keep boredom at bay. Following a five-minute warm up, increase the resistance or up your pace for 30 seconds and then resume your normal pace for one minute. Keep switching back and forth for your workout. Every few workouts, keep your body guessing by switching up the duration of your intervals.

Adding in Strength Training

    Another way to break through a plateau is by adding some strength training to your gym routine. This works because it helps you add muscle, which is more metabolically active than fat, according to the American Council on Exercise. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism, even when you are sleeping. Design a routine that hits all major muscle groups in your shoulders, arms, back, core and legs. Select a weight that tires your muscles after 12 repetitions. As your muscles get stronger, remember to increase the resistance to avoid another plateau.


    If, despite your best efforts, you can’t breakthrough your plateau, maybe it is time to reassess your goals. Talk with your doctor or dietician about different tactics to try. Simply spending hours a day on the elliptical is a good way to set your body up for new problems and make it more susceptible to injuries. And with your more intense fitness regime, always remember to give your body a chance to recover. A day off gives your muscles a chance to repair any minor tears or other damage.

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