JOE's post-workout tips: Essential cool down stretches to help you build muscle
If you don't cool down and loosen up after a workout then you could be hampering your chances of building muscle.
Just because you hit your target distance or you got through all your sets, your workout isn't finished yet. Warming down is a key part of your workout, and the reason why you often see professional sportsmen going out for another quick lap after the match is over.
Not only that, but it can help with muscle soreness, if you know you've been working hard in the gym that day, or if your aim is to build some muscle it will also make sure that you reach your goals quicker. Cooling down takes your body from working at near its physical maximum to closer to your regular resting state, and helps blood to travel around the body bringing oxygen and nutrients to your muscles.
A small bit of active recovery, like a slow jog on the treadmill or a few hundred metres on the rowing machine will bring your heart rate down, but stretching is also a key part too.
Stretching is a great way to make sure that you don't get stuck with stiffness in important joints like your hips or shoulders, which are used in a huge variety of exercises.
Two great stretches taken from yoga are 'The Butterfly' and 'The Open Lizard'. Starting with 'The Butterfly', sit on the floor and bend both knees outwards, bringing the soles of your feet together at the middle and holding them there with your hands. As you breathe in, stretch your spine up towards the ceiling, and as you exhale bring your head down towards your feet and fold your spine over. Hold this position for about 30 seconds.
The Open Lizard is a bit more advanced, but still not that much of a challenge. The starting position should be a lunge, going as low as you can with your right knee forward and your hands in front of you on the floor. Exhale as you slowly lower your knee to the outside (to the right if it's your right knee, left if it's your left) and allow it to rest on the outside of your foot. Hold this again, for thirty seconds, and then switch to the other side.
It's always important to make sure you get some protein in after a workout too, as nutrition is always key to any workout, so for something great with a high protein content that’s also delicious, try Mooju chocolate milk. With over 10g of protein in a 250ml container, as well as carbohydrate, Mooju is a great choice for your workout.
Hat-tip to Breakingmuscle.com for the pic