If you're doing a hard interval cardio workout, coaches usually recommend that you have a cooldown – a few minutes you've spent at a light pace, with your heart rate slowly returning to normal. After a lift session, most guys just go straight out of the gym (they really want to show their pump as long as it lasts).
However, there is a suitable way to end a strength training session that both initiates the recovery process and improves future performance. It can be called a cooldown, but sports coach Sam Pogue uses the term decompression which better describes the intent. "The muscles are tensed by the concentric movement of lifting," says Pogue. That is, the repeated shortening of the muscles in the upward phase of repetitions leaves the tissue in a tense state. "Decompression exercises help muscles move in peace," he says.
Imagine what makes a training of deadlift or shrug . If you leave the gym immediately after your workout and sit at a desk for the rest of the day, you only increase the tension in your neck, traps, and shoulders, which can cause injury over time. It takes a few minutes to relax the muscles, stimulate blood circulation, increase the hydration of the fascia surrounding them, increase flexibility and stimulate the parasympathetic response of the nervous system ̵
A Complete Compendium of Fitness Knowledge: Men's Health Encyclopedia of Muscle : The band is full with training routines, helpful training tips, and definitions for just about any term in the gym you've ever wanted to know.
How to Cool Down
If you've wondered where the static stretch is (move into a stretched position and hold it the way you did in the gym class), fit in Your training – the time is now. A decompression series involves holding stretches, but probably not the way you are used to. For efficiency, Pogue recommends more "global" exercises that stretch multiple muscles simultaneously, and also forces you to focus on stability and good biomechanics. Many of these movements are due to yoga and may seem familiar to you.
"Your decompression does not just have to focus on the body parts you worked on that day," says Pogue. "It should work in the most restricted areas." For most, these are the hips and the thoracic spine (also called T-spine), he says. "The ability of T-Spine to rotate affects so much of our movement, whether it's hip flexion, spinal flexion or extension."
Pogue offers the following decompression series you will find in Men's Health Encyclopedia of Muscle to complete your training. Hold each stretch for 15 seconds and breathe deeply in the end position. You should feel your body exhale as you exhale, gently trying to expand your range of motion. Although it is never safe to stretch aggressively, your body can find larger ranges of motion when muscles and joints are warm and lubricated. Since your training has brought the heat up, stretching is most effective if you are trained immediately afterwards. Keep these positions longer as you become more mobile. Stretch one side and repeat the process on the other side.