Your exercise and fitness questions answered.
Last week we talked about the benefits of a warm-up before you workout. What about after the workout?
Does this sound familiar? You’ve done your workout, you’re tired, sweaty, hungry and/or you’re in a rush because you have something to do or somewhere to go.
What’s skipped as often as, if not more, than the warm-up? The cool down.
A cool down gives the body an easy transition back to a steady state of rest and back to a normal level of activity.
The purpose of a cool down is to gradually reduce heart and breathing rates, cool the body temperature, supply fresh blood into areas to help with lactic acid removal and prevent venous pooling of blood in the lower extremities.
Benefits of a Cool Down
- Gradually reduce heart and breathing rates
- Gradual recovery of blood pressure
- Gradually cool the body temperature
- Return muscles to a normal state
- Helps with removal of lactic acid
- Prevents venous pooling of blood in the lower extremities, which may cause dizziness
Cool down guidelines to keep in mind to stay safe and feel great after your workout:
Gradually cool-down by reducing your exercise intensity and ending your workout routine with stretching exercises. Cool-down from a run by slowing to a brisk walk or cool a brisk walk down to a leisurely pace. Apply the same slow-down principle to the last five to 10 minutes of any exercise routine or sport. Continue your cool-down period with quadriceps, hamstring and calf stretches, to relax and stretch the muscles in your lower body. Complete your cool-down period with chest, arm, neck, upper back and shoulder stretches to stretch and relax all of the major muscles groups in your body. Include foam rolling, if needed, on specific muscles with tight spots.
Right click the image above to save to your mobile device or download the workout to print.
Add this cool down to a dynamic warm-up and the Total Body Super Set or the Total Body 30-30 Interval Workout and you have everything you need for your total body workout today [this week]. Boom!
I am a certified personal trainer, but this workout was not created for your specific fitness level and needs. Make modifications as needed. Intensity and rest periods should be based on your individual fitness level. See your physician before beginning any exercise program. This web site is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice and supervision of your personal physician.
Supine Shoulder Flexion (1) Lie on your back on an exercise mat or firm surface, with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your arms at your sides, with elbows straight and palms facing inward. Breathe deeply for 30 seconds and allow your body to relax toward the floor. (2) Exhale as you lift your arms overhead and toward the wall behind you without arching the back. Keeping the elbows straight and shoulder blades pulled down (no shrugging), bring the arms to the floor or almost to the floor while keeping the abdominals engaged and the shoulders and spine stabilized. Hold this position for 10-12 seconds. (3) Inhale and slowly return your arms back to your starting position. Targets: shoulders
Figure 4 Stretch (1) Lie on your back on a mat or firm surface, with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Cross your right ankle over your left knee (in the shape of a “4”). (2) Grasp your hands behind your left knee and gently pull your legs toward chest as you press right knee away from your chest. Targets: hips, glutes, lower back
Supine Hamstring Stretch (1) Lie on your back and draw your right knee into your chest. Bend your right knee into your chest and place a strap or rolled-up towel around the ball of your foot. (2) Take the towel or strap in each hand and extend your right leg up towards the ceiling, straightening the right leg. Keep both hips pressed firmly into the floor. (3) Flex the right foot, and gently pull down on the strap or towel, and contract your right thigh. Relax the contraction momentarily and repeat the stretch moving the leg closer towards the upper torso. Targets: hamstring
Standing Quadriceps Stretch (1) Stand on your left foot. Bend your right leg behind you and grab your ankle or shin. (2) Keeping your pelvis tucked in, pull your ankle or shin towards your glutes, making sure your knee is pointing to the ground. Targets: quads
Supine hip Flexor Stretch (1) Lie on your back on a mat or firm surface, with your legs straight and feet relaxed. (2) Grab your right knee and pull it up toward your chest while keeping your knee in alignment with the right shoulder. (3) Push your left leg down into the floor as you exhale, relax, and hold. Targets: hips, lower back
Supine Spinal Twist (1) Lie on your back on a mat with legs extended. (2) Bring your right knee into your chest. With your left hand, pull your right knee across your body so you are resting on your left hip. (3) Spread your arms out in a ‘T’ shape to your body and turn your head to the right while your legs are falling to the left. Targets: lower back, IT band
Upward Facing Dog (1) Lie prone on the floor, legs extended back, with the tops of your feet on the floor. (2) Bend your elbows and spread your palms on the floor beside your waist so that your forearms are relatively perpendicular to the floor. (3) Inhale and press your inner hands firmly into the floor and straighten your arms and simultaneously lift your torso up and your legs a few inches off the floor on an inhalation. Keep the thighs firm and slightly turned inward, the arms firm and turned out so the elbow creases face forward. Targets: back, glutes, chest
Down Dog (1) Start on your hands and knees. Knees are directly beneath your hips and your hands are slightly in front of your shoulders with fingers spread wide. (2) Tuck your toes, as you exhale lift your knees from the floor and send your hips towards the sky. Keep a slight bend in your knees if needed. Keep your core engaged. Soften through your shoulders keeping them away from your ears. (3) Lengthen through your outer arms pressing through your hands. Keep your neck long, in between your arms, don’t let it hang. Breathe, imagine as if with every inhale your hips reach higher towards the sky as your chest moves closer towards your thighs. Gently release your knees to the mat back to starting position. Targets: shoulders, upper body, hamstrings, calves
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Do you cool down after your workout or head straight for the shower?
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