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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 routine.

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.

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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 lunges.

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

Hamstring stretch
Quad stretch
Ankle rolls
Groin stretch
Tricep stretch

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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