I can’t seem to elaborate on the importance of a cool down after a workout. Just because you have powered through your last round on the treadmill or killed it with your last rep on the pull-up machine, it doesn’t naturally translate to the cessation of your workout. At this important juncture after your exercise, the muscles and its tissue are attempting to repair itself and a cool down helps with the strength building and overall recovery. By skipping your cool down, you are risking aches and soreness that might end up as an excuse for skipping your workout the next day. If you are serious on your journey to lose weight and eradicate all those pesky love handles and cellulite from your body, this post-workout cool down is a necessity.
Elements Of The Cool Down
To figure out the best way to maximise your workout, we have a three-part breakdown of what you need to cool down. This is the bare minimum and if you are really keen to go a step further, you can throw in the consumption of a protein shake and a massage to break up any knots or adhesions you might have suffered during your workout. Read on to find out more about how to cool off.
This is the reason why most machines at the gym that focus on cardio (be it the rowing machine or treadmill) all have a cool down setting on it. When you are working out, your output is at an eight or a nine out of 10 and to ease the transition, this cool down is an important component. If you were to suddenly stop in your tracks while you are conducting a physical activity, blood might pool in your legs and this causes your blood pressure to drop and you would feel really dizzy. If you are on the treadmill, you can very easily vary the speed in which you are running at or toggle the cool down setting to gradually drop your speed. If you are running outdoors, you should start slowing down your stride into a walk. Try somewhere around three to five minutes and if it has been a strenuous workout, you should go for a long walk before. This is not only for those who are into cardio exercises, those who lift weights ought to have their own cool down as well even if you have yet to break into a sweat. What you should be attempting is some dynamic stretches like walking lunges or yoga poses to bring your heart rate down to a comfortable range like 100 to 120 beats per minute.
When you hit the gym, your muscles are warmed up and this would mean they are much more elastic and pliable. When you see athletes or other gym-goers stretching, what they are focusing on is to relax the tension from their workout. While stretching isn’t going to exactly reduce your injuries, it does help with that soreness in your muscles that often comes the following day. Stretching has also been found to help with the blood circulation in those important areas and speeds up the healing process when our muscles start breaking down. How you can perform your stretching routine is by going at each major muscle with a rep or two for around half a minute. The important ones that you should definitely not miss are the ones around your hamstring since the soreness and aches the next day could easily knock the wind out of you.
While it might seem ridiculous to even suggest, hydration is a necessity since we are expending water from our body each time we move. When we go through a workout, our water stores are depleted and we would have to replenish it to reduce muscle soreness and increase our strength and flexibility. While it seems almost impossible to determine how much water you need to replenish post-workout (is it a 500ml bottle or two?), the most efficient manner to determine how much water you have lost is to weigh yourself before and after your workout. What that does is to determine how much water weight you have lost and how much you need to drink in liquid. To make up for those that are lost when you head to the loo, you ought to add another 25 to 50 percent to that number.
The last thing you should do after finishing a strenuous workout is to jump straight into a shower since it doesn’t give your body a chance to ease into its normal routine. As tempting as it seems to let your body cool off with the ice cold water in the shower, you should let your heart rate and body temperature normalise first by spending five to 10 minutes on your body for it to rest, relax and recover.