The Benefits of Cool Down Periods on Workout Recovery

Workout recovery is a must if you want more progress in muscle growth and strength building – here is where to start

Active recovery refers to a style of recovery from workouts that allows for continued activity. Rather than a cessation of all physical exercise.  Recent research has in fact revealed that active workout recovery can be a better and faster means of recovering from an intense workout or competition than complete rest. 

As such, more and more athletes and bodybuilders are veering towards active recovery periods as opposed to taking complete breaks from their regular aerobic and muscles building routines. Using bodybuilding supplements helps with muscle recovery as well.

Active Workout Recovery

According to some studies, active recovery helps to reduce muscle lactate levels faster than merely resting.  What this reveals is that taking a complete break from all activity might actually slow rather than speed up muscle recovery.  This can make a big difference for people who need all the days of training they can get. Speeding recovery time can therefore make a difference when it comes to competitions and success.

Active recovery does not however mean engaging in the same rate or style of training as you would on regular training days. Instead, low intensity exercise, highly recommended.  Another study found that doing low intensity workouts did not decrease recovery times. Instead, no very positive effect. Keeping to a lower intensity workouts schedule during active recovery was found to increase relaxation among athletes both physical and mental.

The Cool Down Period

Many people talk about the importance of getting a proper warm up before engaging in any kind of strenuous exercise or weight lifting. Without a proper warm up, the body is prone to stiffness, exhaustion, and injury. What is not talked about enough is that the same reasons to do a warm up also apply to the cool down. It is of critical importance to do a proper cool down after exercise, yet it is often ignored.

The reason we need to warm the body up before exercise is basically for preparation. When it comes to cool down however, we have different aims. A proper cool down promotes a fast and effective recovery for the muscles. Exercise can be very stressful on the body, muscles fibers, ligaments, and tendons get damaged and waste products, like lactic acid, build in your body.

Proper Cool Down

A proper cool down can actually help clear away these harmful by-products of exercise. Preparing your body for a proper recovery. If you’ve ever felt extremely sore after exercising it’s probably because you didn’t cool down properly. Granted, there will be a certain amount of soreness in the muscles after strenuous weight lifting, but the amount of soreness most people feel is excessive and avoidable if proper cool down procedure is followed.

A cool down has three equally important aspects to it; these include some very light exercise, some stretching, and then re-fueling your body. Your particular cool down routine will depend on the intensity of the exercise you were doing. The important thing is to get some amount of light exercise in after your workout, and again it should be proportion to how hard you thing you worked out. Make sure that your cool down exercise is relevant to whatever you were doing, in other words you should be working out the same muscles in your cool down as you were during the exercise.

Take a Deep Breath

Breathing plays a big role in proper cool down, take deep breathes as you do your gentle exercises. Then comes the stretching. Again, try to stretch the areas which are relevant to the kind of exercise you were doing. These needn’t be anything fancy, just simple static exercises. Don’t cut your stretching short; this is the single most important step in terms of preventing soreness the next day.

Replenish Your Body

Finally you must replenish your body, so drink lots and lots of water. In terms of food, immediately after working out your body just needs a quick hit of energy that goes down easy. Bananas, apples, grapes, or any other fruit is recommended, so keep some fruit in your gym bag if you can. Try adding a post workout supplement after weight lifting.

A final study also revealed that active recovery allowed for a faster removal of lactic acid from the muscles.  As such this helps to speed recovery time because as the blood circulates this acid is removed more quickly. Low intensity activity can therefore reduce blood lactate that has accumulated in the body.  This is why, researchers speculate, active recovery might be able to speed up athletic recovery times.

Cooling down becomes an easy exercise, done after a more intense activity. Allowing the body to gradually transition to a resting or near-resting state. Depending on the intensity of the exercise, cooling down can involve a slow jog or walk. With lower intensities stretching is easy.

Remember that active recovery should not be engaged in if injury or other serious impairments are present.  Active recovery can be a great way to keep yourself in gear and help the muscles recovery, but it should not be used as a replacement for much needed rest in the event of ailment or injury.