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October 24, 2022 11 min read

A cool-down routine after a workout is as important as warming up. You have no on and off switch, so, after physical activity like a gym workout, your heart continues to beat faster than normal, your body temperature is elevated, and your blood vessels are dilated.

Therefore, it’s good to do static stretches when you’re cooling down because your muscles, joints, and limbs are still warm.

Stretching can help reduce the buildup of lactic acid, which can cause muscle cramping and stiffness. Static stretches are those in which you stand, sit or lie still and hold a single position for a period of time, up to about 45 seconds.

In contrast, dynamic stretches are controlled pre-workout movements that prepare your muscles, ligaments, and other soft tissues for performance and safety during cardio or other workouts that follow.

Why are cool-down stretches important? 

Post-workout stretching, aka maintenance stretching, is crucial. They assist in removing lactic acid from the muscles and reducing soreness. Lactic acid is created when the body turns glucose into energy.

The production of lactic acid occurs when oxygen levels are low, generally during high-intensity exercising. Your body’s natural process of metabolism gets rid of lactic acid buildup, and stopping exercise is the surefire way to get rid of excess lactate.

Cool-down stretch

However, reducing exercise intensity, taking deep breaths, and staying hydrated are the best ways to maximize natural lactate clearance and reduce soreness. Post-workout stretches can also increase blood flow and energy supply to return to a regulated pace. That will help your muscles regain their shape and improve your performance the next time you exercise. 

10 Best Cool Down Exercises

Before we list the best post-workout exercises, let’s look at a few general tips to keep in mind while doing a cool-down routine.

  • Walkabout for approximately 5 minutes to get your heart rate below 120 beats per minute.

  • After full-body workouts, do at least one stretch to target each joint and each primary muscle group activated during the workout. After a workout that isolates specific muscles and joints, focus your cool-down exercise on those areas.

  • Every stretch should be strong but not painful.

  • Control your breathing—Exhale during the stretch movement, and inhale while you hold the stretch.

  • Hold every stretch for 10 to 45 seconds. Always keep the cool-down stretches balanced. Any stretch that works only on one side of your body should be repeated for the other side.

  • Keep your stretching static, and definitely no bouncing!

1. World’s greatest stretch (plank version)

This exercise is also known as the Lunge with a Spinal Twist. It is great after workouts that target your mid-back or thoracic muscles. It also lengthens the hip flexors and opens up the hip joint.

You can modify the range of movement according to your current flexibility. This exercise can be sped up to serve as a pre-workout exercise.

Here's how to do it:

  1. Start in a high plank position.

  2. Step your right foot forward and place it beside your left hand.

  3. Press your left hand firmly onto the floor, and bring your right arm, bent at the elbow, forward and touch your right elbow on the floor between your right foot and your left hand.

  4. Then, bring the right arm up, outstretched and pointing toward the ceiling.

  5. Twist your body to the right as you swing your arm overhead. Fix your gaze up at your lifted fingertips.

  6. Hold that position for 30 to 45 seconds before switching to the opposite side and repeating the stretch through the full range of motion.

  7. You can repeat this stretch 2 or 3 times on each side.

Remember, you are stretching to cool down. Make slow movements through all four stages of this stretch.

2. Seated Single-Leg Hamstring Stretch

The hamstring is a large muscle that should not be neglected, especially not after a workout that focuses on the upper legs and hips. This stretch will increase flexibility and reduce the risk of back pain caused by tightness in your hamstrings.

Here's how to do it:

  1. Start in a sitting position on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you with your toes facing straight up.

  2. While keeping your left leg straight, bend your right knee and place the sole of your right foot against the inner thigh of your left leg.

  3. Reach toward your left foot’s toes with extended arms. if you can reach your toes, grab them, but if not, hold on to your leg as far as you can reach. Keep your head up and your gaze directly ahead. Keep your back straight — dropping your head to look at the floor will cause a rounded back.

  4. Hold for 30 to 45 seconds, relax, reposition and repeat the stretch using the opposite leg.

3. Seated Spinal Twist Stretch

This spinal twist stretch is an excellent precaution against lower back and leg pain, caused by a tight piriformis muscle located on your butt near the top of your hip joint. The sciatica nerve can get caught and become inflamed if the piriformis muscle remains tight.

Here's how to do it:

  1. Sit down on the floor with both legs extended out in front of you.

  2. Cross your right leg over your left leg, placing your right foot firmly on the floor on the outside of your left knee, and your right knee almost touching your chest.

  3. Twist your upper body to the right, placing your right hand behind you on the floor for support and balance.

  4. With your left elbow pressing the inside of your right knee outward — twisting your upper body will deepen the stretch that you feel in your glutes.

  5. Hold that position for 30 to 45 seconds before returning to the starting position.

  6. Repeat the full range of motion with the opposite side.

4. Standing Quad Stretch

 Your quadriceps, or quads, are those big meaty muscles on the front of your thighs. They play an important role in your knee joint motions, so keeping them loose and flexible is key. Quad tightness can cause painful uneven pulling on your kneecaps, and increase injury risks.

Here's how to do it:

This exercise looks easy, but many people struggle to stay balanced while standing on one leg. The trick is to focus your gaze on a single spot ahead of you, whether it's a spot on the floor or something ahead. It’s essential to maintain that gaze throughout, even when you switch legs.

  1. Start in a standing position with your feet together.

  2. Put your weight on your right leg and bend the left knee and use your left hand to grab that foot from behind.

  3. Initiate the stretch by pulling forward with your left quad while using your hand to pull back your left foot. Don’t overdo it, just pull until you can feel your quad pulling. (All the time focusing on that spot!)

  4. You will feel the stretch all the way up from your quads to your hip attachment.

  5. Hold that stretch for 30 to 45 seconds before returning to the starting position.

  6. Repeat the quad stretch while standing on the left foot, and if you struggle to maintain your balance at the switchover, you probably took your eye off the spot.

5. Seated Pigeon

You need not worry about balance when doing the seated pigeon stretch. It targets your glutes and relieves inner thigh and lower back tightness, and because you are seated, you can hold the position as long as necessary without the risk of falling over.

Here's how to do it:

  1. Start this stretch seated in a chair or on the floor.

  2. Sit tall as you lift your left leg and cross it over your right leg, resting your left ankle just above your right knee.

  3. Support your raised left knee with your left hand, and your left foot with your right hand.

  4. Inhale, and exhale as you lean your upper body forward as far as you can, hinging at the hips. Ensure your back is straight, and your gaze is straight ahead.

  5. Inhale as you lift your upper body, and exhale as you lean forward again.

  6. As you fold forward for the third time, hold the position for 30 to 45 seconds.

  7. Switch legs and repeat the movements with your right leg crossed over your left leg.

You can use the pigeon stretch as a pre-workout exercise by adding hip rotations and ankle shake-outs to make it a dynamic instead of a static exercise.

6. Lunging Calf Stretch

The calves are often forgotten when people do pre- and post-workout stretches. The lunging calf stretch is another exercise suitable for both warm-up and cool-down stretches. It works your calves, hamstrings, hip flexors, and glutes, and performing it as a static cool-down stretch, it is ideal for stretching your lower body after a workout.

Here's how to do it:

  1. Start standing upright and place your hands on a wall for support.

  2. Lean forward and take a step back with your left foot, keeping the left leg straight.

  3. Both heels should be flat on the floor and the toes of both feet should point forward throughout the performance of the stretch.

  4. Bend your right knee and lean forward with your chest toward the wall.

  5. Hold that position for 30 to 45 seconds before returning to the starting position.

  6. Repeat the stretch, this time with the right leg stretched behind you.

  7. You’ll feel the stretch in your calf muscle, and the further back you place one foot, and the deeper you bend the other leg, the more intense the stretch will be.

7. Bent Knee Cross-body Stretch

This stretch works your lower back and oblique muscles. It relieves the stiffness in your spine, hips, and lower back. it is a shoulder stretch but will also stretch your chest, spine, hips, and lower and upper back. Stretching your core musculature after a workout is essential for back health. As a bonus, this exercise will also stretch your sacroiliac joint and the bones in your lower back.

Here's how to do it:

  1. Lie on your back with your arms stretched out at shoulder level

  2. Bend your right knee and cross it over your left leg, placing your right foot close to the outside of your left knee.

  3. Slowly start twisting your body towards the left side, using your left hand to put SLIGHT pressure on the bent knee, pushing it toward the floor, only as far as it's comfortable.

  4. Keep both your shoulders squared and rooted to the floor, and your torso resisting the rotation in the opposite direction.

  5. Keep breathing into the twist and hold the position for 30 to 45 seconds.

  6. Relax and return to the starting position before crossing your left leg over the right leg to repeat the stretch.

  7. You will feel the stretch in your spine.

8. Core Abdominal Stretch AKA Cobra Pose 

This move stretches your core muscles including your rectus abdominus and obliques. These muscles are key to good workouts and the health of your lower back.

Here's how to do it:

  1. Start by lying face down on a mat or on the floor.

  2. Place your hands, palms down, on the mat next to your rib cage.

  3. Slowly press through your hands, lifting your chest and arching your back.

  4. Maintain the arm pressure into the floor, and pull your shoulders down and away from your ears.

  5. Keep your head up, gazing ahead, to keep your neck and spine neutral.

  6. Arch your back as much as is comfortable.

  7. Hold the position for 30 to 45 seconds before returning to the starting position.

9. Single Knee-to-Chest Stretch

This stretch isolates the larger lower back muscles and the back of your hips. Furthermore, it stretches the sacroiliac joint, which connects your spine and back to your lower body. It is located where your sit bone, or sacrum, is connected to your pelvis. If you don’t stretch this joint after working out, you’ll risk low back pain.


Here's how to do it:

  1. Start by lying on your back with your legs stretched out.

  2. Bend one leg and use both hands to pull that knee up towards your chest.

  3. You can place your hands on the shin or under the thigh, whichever is more comfortable.

  4. Hold that position for 30 to 45 seconds.

  5. Relax and return to the starting position before repeating the stretch on the other leg.

10. Child's Pose

This is one of the best ways to reach the small back muscles that connect the vertebrae or larger bones that make up your spine. Moreover, it stretches the spinal column, allowing the nerves to breathe.

Note: The child’s pose is not suitable for those with herniated discs.

Here's how to do it:

  1. Start the child's pose on your hands and knees.

  2. Sit back so that your bottom touches your calves.

  3. Look down and stretch your arms forward along the ground, with your back straight and your butt as close to your calves all the time, until you feel a stretch in your back.

  4. Hold that position for 30 to 45 seconds.

  5. To stretch your side, move both hands to the left, with arms still outstretched and your back straight, until you feel a stretch along the right side of your body.

  6. Hold that position for 30 to 45 seconds.

  7. Repeat the stretch by moving your hands to the right until you feel your left side muscles stretch, and hold that position.

  8. Relax and return to the starting position.

  9. Rest for 60 seconds before repeating the three-part child's pose once more.

To Sum Up

When scheduling your next workout, ensure you allow at least 10 minutes at the end of your workout for a stretching routine to cool down before your next appointment or responsibility. That will bring your heart rate, body temperature, and blood pressure levels back down to their normal levels before you continue carrying on with your usual activities.

Whether you do strength training, HIIT, or a cardio workout, post-workout stretching is crucial for overall wellness. Choose the exercises that appeal to you the most and put them together to create your workout recovery and relaxation routine.

This video is an example of a selection of stretches to combine for a stretching routine.

Help to boost muscle building, fat burning, and muscle recovery

Regardless of the time of day your workout routine takes place, your muscles will require nutrients to boost the recovery process. For 15 to 30 minutes after your workout, your muscles are most receptive to a nutrient boost.

Drinking a protein shake made with whey isolate protein like that included in the WHEY ISO SHREDDED STACK  can put additional proteins and carbs back in your system to help the recovery and rebuilding of stronger muscles. 

Here’s what you’re going to get:

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The WHEY ISO SHREDDED STACK will give you the basics of muscle building, fat burning, and muscle recovery.