Cool Down and Stretch Routine

by Marianne  - October 28, 2010

Hi All,

Better late than never eh? As promised, here is an example of a basic cool down and stretch routine that can be used for any of my workouts, body weight, kettlebells or anything in between.

The benefits of cooling down and stretching properly are:

  • To aid the dissipation of waste products such as lactic acid
  • To reduce the potential for DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness)
  • Allows the heart rate to return to its resting rate
  • Reduces the risk of dizziness or fainting caused by the pooling of venous blood in the lower extremities
  • Can help relax you mentally and bring closure to the session.

A cool down should consist of:

  • Some gentle cardio such as light jogging or marching to decrease body temperature and remove waste products from the working muscles.
  • 5 to 10 minutes of Static Stretches – Static Stretches help muscles to relax, realign muscle fibres and re-establish their normal range of movement. These stretches should be held for 10 – 15 seconds.
  • You can also add a longer, Developmental Stretch which is held until the initial tension disappears, then advance the stretch and hold again, repeat once more. This type of stretch can be used to focus particular attention on tight areas, like for me, my hamstrings.

There are many other stretches you can add in to your cool down, I didn’t include, for example any for the quads, triceps, lats, IT band etc. And, it all depends on what your workout focused on more. Although I try to make all my workouts full body, inevitably the legs, glutes, shoulders and chest seem to get punished the most.  Not point in stretching your biceps if you were doing a leg workout.

I hope that my cool down has shown that it does not need to be complicated or full of fancy stretches.  On confession I do need to make is I really hate warming up and cooling down :/ BUT I make myself do at least a short 5 minutes of each and it makes such a difference – so please, when planning a workout, always factor in time for warming up and cooling down!

Here is a written breakdown of my cool down and stretches:

  1. Following the last exercise of a workout, start from a light jog and gradually, over 30 – 90 seconds, bring the pace down to a light march, and continue for a further 30 seconds to prevent blood pooling as the heart rate settles to near a resting rate.
  2. At this point I rolled me shoulders back, held my hands behind my lower back and pulled my shoulder blades in and down to stretch the front of the shoulders and chest.  Always remember to breathe!
  3. I did some shoulder rolls next, as I always feel my shoulders tight (must be stress lol)
  4. Lying down, I did a hamstring stretch into a glute, oblique and back stretch (great for mobilising the middle of the spine). Always try and keep both shoulders on the floor.
  5. From here I stretched into my hip flexors which are also tight on a lot of people. Those mountain climbers really burn my hip flexors LOL!
  6. Then, I stretched the thoracic area of my back and rear shoulders by doing a Cat Arch. Really focus on rolling the shoulders forward and holding the abs in towards the spine, tucking the head in too. I love this stretch 🙂
  7. The opposite of this is to stretch through the abdominal wall (upward facing dog), then into the downward facing dog, which focuses on the calves and hamstrings.
  8. Lastly I did a longer, developmental stretch into my back and hamstrings to try and increase the flexibility there.

There you have a cool down to complete that section of my site LOL  I am sorry if my writing skill are a shambles today, as I feel totally Zombie-like after a night from hell in work.  I have recorded a new workout yesterday for upload over the weekend (as I will be doing my EKI Course all day Saturday and Sunday), so I will have little time available for anything else.

Thanks you all for your patience with my busy schedule!  🙂




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    1. Hey Syndee, Warming up is essential, and some dynamic stretches are included in most warm ups, but for some people with flexibility issues and problem areas (for example hip mobility) it is advisable to do some stretches for them too. Some people say don’t stretch before you train because it makes you weaker and that is BS, you actually can fire the nervous system up more if you include some stretches before you train.

      Bottom line: If you feel you are tight, have poor mobility, then warm up and do some stretches for 5 – 15 mins before you train. It won’t do you any harm 🙂 People get too caught up in the do’s and don’t’s and think everything is black and white. But how can it be, when we are all so different!

      Hope this helps Syndee

  1. Thanks for this cool-down, Marianne. I had forgotten about the benefits of doing light cardio at the end of a session to remove waste products from the muscles & prevent blood pooling. I will definitely try to incorporate some light cardio each time as I think it would help with the hamstring DOMS I’ve been experiencing recently.

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