Training: Post-Workout Cooling Down

You’ve finished your session and are good to go home, right? Wrong. Completing a cool down should be integrated at the end of every session as a way to wind down, reduce your heart level and bring everything back from the intense level you’ve just been training at for the last 30 minutes or more.

Start your cool down by decreasing your heart rate back down to a pre-exercise level. This can be done by starting off with a higher tempo cardio based exercise, like running, and then slowly slowing down until you end up with a slow walk, by which your heart rate should have decreased considerably. This is good to keep blood flowing and reduce the likelihood of blood pooling, and therefore reduce the risk of delayed onset of muscular soreness (DOMs).

Completing a cool down should be integrated at the end of every session as a way to wind down and reduce your heart level

Next, you should complete the eight static stretches listed below. These are stretches performed with no movement, just a standing, or lying, hold to stretch out the muscle (approximately 15 – 30 seconds each). This will help to increase the range of motion about a joint and consequently allow your joints more freedom of movement and efficiency. This is key to be able to safely carry out a wide variety of exercises, poor flexibility or range of movement can limit what you can safely do.

The third aspect of the cool down shouldn’t necessarily be last, but we tend perform this through the cooling down process. This is to mental and physically relax your body. After you’ve put your body and mind through the stress of physical activity you need to relax and recover. Take time during your static stretches to perform slow deep breathes, listen to some soothing music, which tcan help to reduce stress and decrease muscle tension.

Here’s our recommended list of stretches which will cover both upper and lower body recovery:

Quadriceps Stretch. Click for larger image

Quadriceps Stretch

Elevate one leg behind you (on a bench) and take a step forward with the other leg. Bending both knees and keeping your chest high drop down and you’ll feel a stretch in your quads of your elevated leg.

Hamstrings Stretch. Click for larger image

Hamstrings Stretch

Keeping your feet close together and your knees straight, bend over forwards and reach down towards your toes. Don’t worry if you can’t reach your toes, just go as far as you need to feel the stretch in the backs of your legs.

Glute Stretch. Click for larger image

Glute Stretch

Sit on the floor with one leg out straight, bring the other leg over the top of the outstretched one keeping your toes facing away from you. Now keeping your glutes as close to the floor as you can, pull your knee of your bent leg over the top of your other leg towards the floor, you should feel a stretch in your glutes on the side of your bent leg.

Ab Stretch. Click for larger image

Ab Stretch

Lie face down on the floor and put your hands flat on the floor next to your shoulders. Now push up onto your hands, keeping your hips on the floor if possible. This should stretch out your abdominals.

Shoulder/Back Stretch. Click for larger image

Shoulder/Back Stretch

Standing with feet hip width apart, put your hands together and push them out in front of you as far as you can. Roll your shoulders forward to stretch your back out too!

Chest/Shoulder Stretch. Click for larger image

Chest/Shoulder Stretch

Put your hands together behind your back, feet hip width apart, and lift your hands as high behind you as you can. This will stretch across your chest and the front of your shoulder as well.

Shoulder Stretch. Click for larger image

Shoulder Stretch

Bring one arm across your body and hold it in a stretched position with the other arm. This will stretch your rear deltoid (back of your shoulder).

Triceps Stretch. Click for larger image

Triceps Stretch

Standing up, place one hand palm down on the top of your back, use the other hand to help push that arm as far down your back as you need to to feel the stretch in the triceps.

This recommended cool down session should take anywhere up to 10 minutes, but you can take longer depending on how long you’re relaxing for and how much time you have to spare at the end of your session.

Once you’ve finished your cool down, we advise you grab a high protein post-workout snack which will help revitalise your muscles and aid recovery.


About Author

Olly is the Short Motivation fitness and training advisor. He is a level-3 PT instructor, specialising in TRX and kettlebell instruction, and manages his own gym in the United Kingdom.