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The Importance of Cool Down in Bodybuilding Workouts

May 22, 2008
A lot of people eliminate cool down from their bodybuilding or fitness workouts because they consider it unimportant. The truth is that cool down is just as important as warming up and plays a crucial part in staying injury free. Cooling down after a workout is important because it promotes recovery and aids our bodies to get back to a pre-workout level.

During every single workout session the body gets damaged by various elements including damage of muscle fibers, ligaments and tendons together with various waste products that get build up in our body. If you perform a good cool down routine you will notice that our bodies can repair themselves faster.

Few people understand the importance of cooling down after exercise, especially when talking about post exercise muscle soreness. Most people will feel this the next day after a good workout and it can be experienced after a lay-off from exercises or even at the start of a sports season. There are various reasons that cause this post exercise muscle soreness. For starters, we have micro tears. These happen during the workout and they are actually small tears in the muscle fibers. They will cause swelling of the muscle tissue and there is pressure on our nerve endings, thus causing pain. Then we also have blood pooling to talk about.

When we workout our heart will pump a large quantity of blood on the working muscles. This is needed in order to carry nutrients and oxygen to the muscles that are working out. The blood reaches the muscle and the nutrients and oxygen are used up then the force of the muscular contraction will push the blood back to the heart in order to get re-oxygenated. When our workout is complete, or better said, when the exercise stops the force that pushes the blood towards the heart will disappear. The end result stays in waste products that remain in the muscles, some causing pain and swelling. This is "blood pooling" and it does have an impact on our overall performance.

The cool down process helps a lot because it keeps the blood circulating, thus helping to prevent blood pooling and even removing part of the waste products we find in our muscles after a workout. To make it even more important, cooling down will also bring in blood with oxygen and nutrients, which are needed by the muscles, ligaments and tendons to properly recover after a good bodybuilding or fitness routine.

Now that we understand the importance of cool down in bodybuilding and fitness workouts let us take a look at an effective cool down structure. We have 3 key elements that we need to take a look at and they are: re-fueling, stretching and gentle exercise. All these elements are equally important and they should not be neglected. Now the time put into each part of the cool down process depends on the type of athlete you are. If you exercise more or are a bodybuilder that is aiming towards competition or simply a serious athlete you will need more cool down than the person that only does a maintenance routine.

The easy exercise part of bodybuilding cool down stands in doing gentle exercises that resemble the types of exercise that were done during your workout routine. Deep breathing should also be included in order to help your body oxygenate the system. 20 to 30 minutes of stretching are also recommended after a heavy workout although 5 to 15 should be enough for the average bodybuilder. Do not forget to re-fuel your body.

This is done by drinking a lot of water and you should also include a good sports drink in the routine. Exactly after a workout you should eat food that is easy to digest, like fruit. Always do a good cool down routine after your workout and you will see that results will be better.
About the Author
Article first written for the Great Bodies Nutrition and Bodybuilding blog. More workout articles HERE
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