What do you do once you finish a tough workout? Do you collapse to the ground and roll around in your sweat until a peer pulls you off the floor? There are a number of physiological and psychological reasons to ditch the post-workout nap and trade it in for something more beneficial. Physiologically, not properly cooling down can lead to a buildup of lactic acid in our muscles and blood, which ultimately, causes fatigue to set in faster and can impact our overall athletic performance. Psychologically, sprawling out on the ground makes it look like we’ve been defeated rather than strengthened. After pushing through a hard workout, you want to prove that you have made yourself better so stand tall, walk around, cheering your peers on, and start cooling down! Here are some tips on how to effectively cool down:
- Move.The goal of the cool down is to gradually bring your heart rate back to its resting level. When your workout ends, try to keep your body active but move at a slower pace. Your cool down should last for at least five minutes, but you may need to keep moving longer if your heart rate is still elevated. Light air squats, some overhead presses, or a slow bike session are just a few ideas to flush the lactic acid out of your muscles!
- Mobilize. Post-workout is one of the most effective times to target end ranges of mobility. If you are still struggling with the bottom of your squat, take a few minutes after your training to sit down their using a weight to pull you into that deep end range.
- Static Stretching. One of the best times to work on your flexibility is after a tough workout. This is when your muscles are warmest and most pliable, making them easier to stretch and reach new levels of flexibility.Utilize this time to make the most of your stretches in the gym.