8 great cool down exercises and stretches to do after a workout
Marie Claire enjoys the support of its audience. When you make purchases through links on our site, we may earn commissions on certain items you select.
Time to give your muscles some love.
I don’t know about you, but exercising to cool down is one of my favorite parts of my sweat sessions. After working hard on a glute workout or sifting through my go-to yoga poses, I like to take time to chill, breathe, and celebrate what my body has just done.
While it may seem like prime time to lay starfish on the floor and breathe after breaking a sweat, it’s a general fact that there are several moves that will better serve your body (and help you say goodbye, muscle mass) in the long run. Will say goodbye to the delay. Sore).
Or is it? As with warm-up exercises, it’s long been thought that preparing your muscles and cooling down your body after exercise is the key to injury prevention and more, but interestingly, a significant amount of research doesn’t really help. Cool down has not been found to reduce DOM, improve muscle fatigue, or boost performance. Plenty of studies indicate that cool down exercises can sometimes be a waste of time – currently, there is little evidence that they do anything.
To make the decision settled forever, we’ve asked some of the best experts in the business for their opinions. Whether you’re on running, gym workouts or yoga classes, keep scrolling and see what Holly Grant, award-winning Pilates instructor and founder pilates pt and Sarah Lindsay, founder of roar fitnessThinking.
Your Guide to Cooling Exercises – So, Are They Worth It?
First things first – what exactly Is A cool exercise? Grant explains that the cool down is usually a series of movements designed to bring your body back to a pre-exercise level. Understood, isn’t it? What you do will generally depend on what workout you’ve just done – for example, after a long walk, the cool-down exercise is a short slow jog or a brisk-paced walk So that the intensity of your muscles can be reduced gradually. Slowly and in stages.
That said, some cool down movements (more on that in more) are universal.
5 benefits of cool down exercise
According to trainers, there are some benefits to cooling down after the session.
- gradually lowers your heart rate to pre-exercise levels
- promotes relaxation
- Reduces chances of muscle stiffness
- Gives you time to reflect on your workout
- Boosts recovery.
The main purpose of cooling down is to gradually bring your heart rate and respiratory rate back down, which is important because there is always “the potential risk of dizziness or nausea that can occur if you do not cool down,” shares Grant. Is. If you simply stop walking at the end of a workout, this can cause blood to pool in the legs and increase the chances of lightheadedness, nausea and possibly varicose veins.
Lindsey also points out that cooling down can help you get the most out of the training you do and will also mean that you are able to perform at a higher level in your next training session.
In general, this is also the perfect time to restate and reflect on your workouts. You can note the PB or plan what you want to work on next time, use this as a time to give yourself a good pat on the back. (Read our guide to meditation benefits and breath-taking training here).
If you’re willing to incorporate the cool down for the purposes above, Lindsay has some tips for you. Keep the purpose of the sport in mind – to slowly bring your heart rate up to a resting state and bring new blood to the working muscles. “It improves recovery and reduces stiffness and pain”, she adds.
Use this: She says that static stretches—that is, stretches where you’re standing—are simple and easy-to-do cool-down exercises because your muscles are already warmer and more flexible. She ends her workouts with moves like hip flexor, glute or spine stretches—some of her favorites—”encouraging flexibility and promoting good range of motion in the joints,” she shares.
Are Cool Down Exercises Really Important?
That said, Grant indicates that there is little evidence to actually show a link between positive markers, such as DOMS, muscle soreness, performance and so on – and cool down.
“I personally feel they are an important way to end a workout, but that’s my personal preference,” she explains. “From a safety standpoint (Grant works with many antenatal clients), I think the cool down provides an opportunity to check that the client is feeling fine, not feeling dizzy, and getting on with the rest of their day. ready to do.”
how can i cool down? your guide
Good question – as it will vary from person to person and session to session.
Grant explains that, as with any aerobic activity calming down, it’s important to try to reduce the intensity gradually until you’re in control of your breathing, your heart rate back to some sort of “normal.” and you feel ready to stop. For example, if you’ve just done some weight training, it might be a good idea to do a few bodyweight moves before stretching.
Lindsey says it can be beneficial to do some cardio to end the session. “A cool down that includes a few minutes of a traditional type of cardio would be good — think jogging, brisk walking, cycling, rowing or skipping. Do whatever you enjoy and have to entrust,” she explains. .
8 cool exercises and stretches to try after your next workout
Keep scrolling for some cool down exercises to try.
1. Child’s Pose
Yoga mudra is a very simple and universal way to calm down. Taking deep breaths in Child’s Pose will help you relax almost immediately (plus it’s also a good resting position if the workout becomes too much).
One. Start on all fours, and take a deep breath and spread your knees wide while your big toes are touching.
b. Keeping your lower back on your heels, extend your arms above your head. Inhale and exhale, slowly and deeply until your breathing returns to its pre-exercise rate.
2. Hip Flexor Stretch
Another great post-workout stretch is a hip flexor stretch, more commonly known as kneeling.
One. Begin by kneeling on the mat to stretch the hips and glutes. Bend your left leg in front of you and your right knee on the floor.
b. Keeping your core tight, push your hips forward. Hold for 30 seconds, and repeat on each leg. There is always the option of doing a little stretch at a time.
3. Pigeon Pose
Another great hip opening cool down stretch? Pagon Pose. New to the game? Our guide to yoga for beginners will help.
One. Start all around. Bring your right knee towards your right wrist. You should feel a stretch in the outer hip but there should be no discomfort.
b. Slide your other leg back and place both hands on the floor in front of you. You can enjoy this stretch by straightening your torso or near the floor.
4. Shoulder Stretch
You can stand or sit for it, whichever you prefer.
One. From standing or sitting, lift your left elbow, keeping the arm close to your spine or neck.
b. Take your right hand and press gently on the left elbow to extend the left arm further down your spine, deepening the stretch. Pause for 30 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.
5. Quad Stretch
A great move for a leg-focused workout, cross training, or after a running session.
One. Start with both feet on the floor and stand shoulder-width apart.
b. Bend your left knee down and hold it with both hands, a stretch should be felt in the front of your left leg. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat with the right leg.
6. Cat Cow Spine Stretch
This is one of Lindsay’s favorite cool down moves. It stretches your abdominal and back muscles and is important for reducing body tension and tension.
One. Start all around. Your palms should be widely spread, your wrists under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips.
b. Extend through your head to enter table top position. Roll your shoulders away from your ears and pull the navel in toward the spine. Remember to enjoy the stretch and breathe.
7. Glute Stretch
Because, believe it or not, your glutes are worked during almost every workout, from high-intensity interval training to Reformer Pilates.
One. Begin by extending both legs in front of you on the floor.
b. Then, cross one ankle over the opposite knee, placing your hands on the outside of your thigh.
8. Jog or Walk
Interested in trying a less stable cooling? As above, a light jog or walk will do the trick. “As with essentially any aerobic activity cooling down, try to gradually reduce the intensity until you’re in control of your breathing, your heart rate feels back to some sort of “normal” and You feel ready to stop,” recommends Grant.
If you’re running, PT recommends a slow walk for one to two minutes, then a brisk walk for one to two minutes, then a slow walk for one to two minutes.
If you’re spinning or using a cross trainer, try to decrease your intensity and speed by 50% every one to two minutes until you’re at a stop.