You made it! You got through your final set, you're sweating bullets, and you can finally head home for a great meal. But before you do, there is one crucial step that you must not forget: the cool down.
It could be what makes or breaks that workout you just crushed.
Why? Just as you took the time to properly warm your muscles up, they need to be cooled down as well. By stopping abruptly or not stretching your muscles out after a strenuous workout, they end up getting cold too quickly, which can cause you to feel extra sore the next day. This, in turn, often leads to backsliding on your goals.
While dynamic stretches are best for the warm-up, static stretching is best for the cool down. Here are five stretches you can do after your workout to help ward off soreness, and finish your sweat session out like a champ.
Repeat each stretch 2-3 times.
Seated Hamstring Stretch
Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. While keeping your chest out and shoulders back as much as possible, reach for your toes and hold for 30-45 seconds.
Stand with your feet together and hands by your sides. For help with balance, hold on to a nearby chair or table with your left hand and grab your right foot behind you. Hold for 30-45 seconds before switching sides.
While keeping your chest out and shoulders back, pull your right arm across your chest until you feel a good stretch and hold for 30-45 seconds. Repeat with your left arm.
Stand with your feet together, chest out, and shoulders back. Reach your right arm straight up in the air and drop it down behind your head. Use your left arm to hold your elbow in place. Hold for 30-45 seconds before switching arms.
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Stand with your feet together and reach up for the sky as high as you can. Hold for 10-15 seconds and repeat 2-3 more times.
Looking for a great way to warm-up before a workout? Check out The Only Warm-Up Routine You Need to Get the Best Workout
Jennifer Cohen is a leading fitness authority, TV personality, entrepreneur, and best-selling author of the new book, Strong is the New Skinny. With her signature, straight-talking approach to wellness, Jennifer was the featured trainer on The CW’s Shedding for the Wedding, mentoring the contestants to lose hundreds of pounds before their big day, and she appears regularly on NBC’s Today, Extra, The Doctors, and Good Morning America. Connect with Jennifer on Facebook, Twitter, G+, and Pinterest.