10 Tough Cardio Workouts To Push You Through A Plateau

Are you bored of the same old running routine? Have you hit a plateau with your cardio fitness? One of the best ways to get yourself excited about cardio workouts is to change them up and keep challenging yourself — thankfully, we’ve got just the thing (or 10 things!) to bust you out of your treadmill doldrums.


The next time you find yourself dreading the elliptical machine, give one of these exciting and dynamic cardio workouts a go. They’re designed to be tough, so give it your all, and you’ll reap the rewards.

Cardio Countdown

Fitness Magazine’s Cardio Countdown alternates between periods of high intensity cardio called “speed bursts” and recovery periods where you take an easier pace and allow yourself to recover. First, warm up for five minutes. Next, do a four-minute speed burst followed by four minutes at an easy pace. Next is a three-minute speed burst followed by a three-minute recovery period. Continue counting down until you’ve hit one minute of speed followed by one minute of recovery. This is when it really gets intense. Perform a 30-second speed burst where you’re really giving it all you’ve got, then recover for a minute. Do this three more times and then cool down for four minutes. You’ve just gotten an amazing cardio workout in 35 minutes.

Fat Destroyer

If you prefer doing your cardio along with a video, check out this great video by Cassey Ho. It’s only about eight minutes long, but it definitely gets the heart pumping. Doing squat taps, lunge to high kicks and plank walk openers, you’re sure to feel the intensity.


321 is a total-body workout designed by Ramona Braganza. In this workout, you perform alternating intervals of cardio and strength-training circuits and finish up with one core-strengthening exercise. This pattern is designed to keep you focused throughout your workout and, as Men’s Fitness puts it, “to get ripped in short order.”

Best D*mn Cardio Humanly Possible in 15 Minutes

This cardio workout, designed by Dr. Layne Norton, uses an exercise bike. According to Dr. Norton, this workout “is more effective for fat-burning than walking on an incline treadmill for over an hour.” If you’re ready to bust your butt for 15 minutes, head over to Lifehacker and check it out. 

10-Minute Treadmill Blast

Muscle and Fitness provides us with an awesome article about High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), and a killer workout that takes all of 10 minutes (plus warm-up and cool down). They provide beginner, intermediate and advanced options. Best of all, once you master the principles, you can do HIIT with any type of cardio, from jogging to stationary biking to swimming.

20-Minute HIIT Cardio Workout

Fitness Blender gives us another HIIT workout. This one takes 20 minutes (warm-up and cool down included) and introduces your new best frenemy: Tabata intervals. Fitness Blender estimates that you’ll be burning between 12 and 16 calories a minute during the main part of the workout, and it’ll certainly make you work for it!

Jumping Jack Attack

20-Minute Cardio Workout

Instagram model Jen Selter says that Jumping Jack Attack is one of her favorite plyometric exercises, and it’s one you can do without any equipment and in hardly any time. Do as many jumping jacks as you can in 20 seconds. Rest for 20 seconds. Repeat with 30 -and 40-second intervals, and then perform the whole thing three times.

Elliptical Butt Workout

If you’re looking to do some cardio and also work on your glutes, Popsugar has just thing for you. Throughout this 35-minute workout, it tells you what resistance and inclines to set the elliptical to, and it lays out how many strides per minute you should be shooting for.

The 55 Workout

Men’s Health’s 55 workout provides an interesting way to mix cardiovascular effort with bodyweight strength training. The workout involves doing 10 sets of exercises with 30 seconds of rest in between each. In the first set, you’ll do 10 push-ups and one bodyweight squat. From there, you’ll increase the number of squats and decrease the number of push-ups by one with each set, finally ending at 10 squats and one push-up. In the end you’ll have completed 55 repetitions of both push-ups and squats.

Steady-State Cardio

Although we’ve covered a lot of different ways to get your cardio in, we certainly don’t mean to knock just getting on the treadmill and jogging. Steady-state cardio has a lot of things going for it, but it’s important know you’re doing it in a way that will be most beneficial to you. Muscle and Fitness provides a great rundown of the basics of steady-state cardio and how to know you’re in the right zone when you’re on the treadmill.