Warming Down For Bodybuilders
Injury prevention has been a topic of study for fitness professionals for quite some time now. As with all
physical activity, weightlifting carries the risk of injury, which is why it is important to cool down properly
before each weight lifting session.
In this article I will explore the importance of cooling-down and the essential components of a cool-down
Almost every day, professional and aspiring bodybuilders put themselves through a grueling workout – one that is
meant to work a tear every fiber of the muscle. It is no wonder that after such an intense workout most lifters
feel tight and sore the day after.
This is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS for short), and is something every bodybuilder is familiar
with. DOMS is usually characterized by pain or stiffness in the muscle a few hours (or days) after the workout. It
is your body’s way of adapting quick to prevent muscle damage, and while there is no way to get rid of DOMS
completely, you can minimize the effects by doing a proper cool-down.
It is important to cool down for several reasons:
• Reduces heart rate, breathing rate, and body temperature.
• Returns muscles to their original length.
• Helps prevent the pooling of blood in the vein of the lower extremities, which in some cases causes
fainting or dizziness.
• Gradually returns your body back to it’s basline.
By cooling-down, your muscles and physiologic system has a chance to make a smooth transition from exercise to
rest. But what is the best way to cool-down after a vigorous exercise routine? Professionals largely agree that a
combination of stretching and low intensity activity is ideal for a cool-down.
Walking, Biking, or using the elliptical are great ways to start your cool-down. These activities, when done at
a slow pace, help lower your heart and breathing rate. Static stretching, as well as dynamic stretching, should be
performed after your low intensity activity. Static stretching differs from dynamic stretching in that you are
stationary. Dynamic stretching is done while moving and includes thing like high knees, butt kicks, and low
Here is a sample cool-down:
Bike, walk, elliptical (or other non-strenuous activities): 5 – 10 minutes
Dynamic Stretching: 2 – 3 minutes
Quad Walk – while walking forwards, pull your right heel to your butt until you feel a good stretch. Walk
forward and repeat with the left leg.
Over the Fence – Raise your right leg as high as possible and rotate it behind you as if stepping over an
imaginary fence. Repeat with left leg.
Pointers – extend your right leg and point your toe to the sky while keeping your left leg bent. Try to touch
your right toe. This is great for hamstring flexibility.
Knee hugs – Walk forward and raise your right knee to your chest until you feel a stretch in your glutes and
hips. Repeat with your left knee.
Arm circles – extend your arms to your side and start moving them in tiny circles. Gradually build up to larger
circles. This movement will help loosen up your rotator cuff.
Static Stretching: 2 -3 minutes
As you can see, a cool-down routine has a multitude of benefits and requires little amount of time at the end of
a workout. Following a well structured cool-down such as the one above, will guarantee decreased soreness and the
ability to go hard in the gym next session!
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