The Cool Down — Recover Fast and Avoid Injury

By Brad Walker

Many people dismiss the cool down as a waste of time, or simply unimportant. In reality the cool down is just as important as the warm up, and if you want to stay injury free, its vital.

Although the warm up and cool down are just as important as each other, they are important for different reasons. While the main purpose of warming up is to prepare the body and mind for strenuous activity, cooling down plays a different role.

Why Cool Down?

The main aim of the cool down is to promote recovery and return the body to a pre exercise, or pre-workout level. During a strenuous workout your body goes through a number of stressful processes, muscle fibers, tendons and ligaments get damaged, and waste products build up within your body. The cool down, performed properly, will assist your body in its repair process.

One area the cool down will help with is post exercise muscle soreness. This is the soreness that is usually experienced the day after a tough workout. Most people experience this after having a lay-off from exercise, or at the beginning of their sports season. I remember running a half marathon with limited preparation, and finding it difficult to walk down steps the next day because my quadriceps were so sore.

Post exercise muscle soreness is caused by a number of things. Firstly, during exercise, tiny tears called micro tears develop within the muscle fibers. These micro tears cause swelling of the muscle tissues which in turn puts pressure on the nerve endings and results in pain.

Secondly, when exercising, your heart is pumping large amount of blood to the working muscles. This blood is carrying both oxygen and nutrients that the working muscles need. When the blood reaches the muscles the oxygen and nutrients are used up. Then the force of the contracting (exercising) muscles pushes the blood back to the heart where it is re-oxygenated.

However, when the exercise stops, so does the force that pushes the blood back to the heart. This blood, as well as waste products like lactic acid, stays in the muscles, which in turn causes swelling and pain. This process is often referred to as blood pooling.

So, the cool down helps all this by keeping the blood circulating, which in turn helps to prevent blood pooling and also removes waste products from the muscles. This circulating blood also brings with it the oxygen and nutrients needed by the muscles, tendons and ligaments for repair.

The Key Parts of an Effective Cool Down

Now that we know what the cool down does and why it is so important, let”s have a look at the structure of an effective cool down. There are three key elements, or parts, which should be included to ensure an effective and complete cool down. They are;

1. Gentle exercise;

2. Stretching; and

3. Re-fuel.

All three parts are equally important and any one part should not be neglected or thought of as not necessary. All three elements work together to repair and replenish the body after exercise.

To follow are two examples of effective cool downs. The first is an example of a cool down used by a professional athlete. The second is typical of someone who simply exercises for general health, fitness and fun.

Example Cool Down Routines

Example 1: – For the Professional

— 10 to 15 minutes of easy exercise. Be sure that the easy exercise resembles the type of exercise that was done during your workout. For example, if your workout involved a lot of running, cool down with easy jogging or walking.

— Include some deep breathing as part of your easy exercise to help oxygenate your system.

— Follow with about 20 to 30 minutes of stretching. Static stretching and PNF stretching is best at this time.

— Re-fuel. Both fluid and food are important. Drink plenty of water, plus a good quality sports drink. The best type of food to eat straight after a workout is that which is easily digestible. Fruit is a good example.

Example 2: – For the Amateur

— 3 to 5 minutes of easy exercise. Be sure that the easy exercise resembles the type of exercise that was done during your workout. For example, if your workout involved a lot of running, cool down with easy jogging or walking.

— Include some deep breathing as part of your easy exercise to help oxygenate your system.

— Follow with about 5 to 10 minutes of stretching. Static stretching and PNF stretching is best at this time.

— Re-fuel. Both fluid and food are important. Drink plenty of water, plus a good quality sports drink. The best type of food to eat straight after a workout is that which is easily digestible. Fruit is a good example.

Getting serious about your cool down and following the above examples will make sure you recover quicker from your workouts and stay injury free.


TAKU’s NOTE: This week feature an excellent Article by Brad Walker. Brad is a prominent Australian sports trainer with more than 15 years experience in the health and fitness industry. Brad is a Health Science graduate of the University of New England and has postgraduate accreditations in athletics, swimming and triathlon coaching. He also works with elite level and world champion athletes and lectures for Sports Medicine Australia on injury prevention.

If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to forward it to others, make it available from your site or post it on forums for others to read. Just make sure that this paragraph and URL are included. For more information and articles on stretching, flexibility and sports injury, visit The Stretching & Sports Injury Newsletter at;

Information on Safe, Sensible, and Productive Exercise

Product Spot Light!

TAKU’s NOTE: This week I want to let people know about the excellent products and information made available by my friend Fred Fornicola, @ Premiere Personal Fitness. A few years ago Fred put out a high quality News-letter titled High Performance Training.

Fred has recently re-released this fantastic resource available as a single down-loadable document file. The package includes 12 volumes (close to 200 pages) covering a broad array of strength and conditioning topics. I highly recommend this collection to anyone interested in simple, safe, and productive training methods.

Here is a sample article from my good friend Jim Bryan.

What‟s in a Name?

By Jim Bryan

Merriam-Webster‘s dictionary defines the following two words as such:

in·ten·si·ty : 1 : the quality or state of being intense; especially : extreme degree of strength, force, energy, or feeling 2 : the magnitude of a quantity (as force or energy) per unit (as of area, charge, mass, or time)

in·tense: 1 a : existing in an extreme degree <the excitement was intense> <intense pain> b : having or showing a characteristic in extreme degree <intense colors> 2 : marked by or expressive of great zeal, energy, determination, or concentration <intense effort> 3 a : exhibiting strong feeling or earnestness of purpose <an intense student> b : deeply felt

Now, for many years there has been a need by some to define high intensity training, better known as ―H.I.T. When definitions are offered, then there is an added need to re-define, clarify, explain and on and on. So, why is there so much confusion?

It seems there are Camps in the Strength Training World that are defined as HIT or non HIT. It‘s ―Us and Them, ―Them or Us, why isn‘t it just Strength Training? Well, I‘ll tell you why. For the last few month‘s I have been reading every certification groups Strength and Conditioning Manual that I can get my hands on and most of these are ―non HIT. The funny thing is that most of these certification courses and manuals don‘t even agree with each other and one even attacks High Intensity Training in their certification manual.
The truth as I see it with High Intensity Training is that it evolves. Arthur Jones got the ball rolling when he came up with the ―Nautilus Principals. In his writing he often mentioned ―High Intensity Training or training with a High Intensity. The ―Nautilus Principals were guidelines for sensible and safe training. Now the mainstream calls it ―HIT.

HIT was not a name Arthur used. He just laughs when you mention ―HIT. When I was training in Deland in 1970 I didn‘t know anything about ―HIT. I just knew that I was training very hard with little rest and got through much quicker than I was used to. After a time we had new Nautilus machines. At first we used what was there which was a squat rack, an Olympic set, Universal Machine, and some dumb bells plus one of the first Nautilus Pull Over ―upper torso‖ machine and that was it. Pro, College, and High School coaches from all over the USA came around, along with athletes from many sports both pro and amateur as well as body builders. All showed up in record numbers. What was happening, was that this first group was proving Arthur‘s methods and using what they needed to succeed. A time efficient method had been lacking for implementing most strength programs.

From the first coaches came the framework to bring strength training programs into the 20th Century. Different needs featured different parts learned from Arthur and his very extensive research. He made things easy in that respect. He preferred full body routines trained hard, with little rest but far less volume than had been used before. As time has gone on people from the early days have kept the core ideas and shaped them to fit their particular situation. The High Intensity Training name stuck and someone started calling it HIT, it‘s pretty darn simple but true.

Not everyone does the same things all the time. Some train on just free weights, some only on machines, and some on a mixture of both plus manual resistance and other modalities. Some always go to failure or overload while others feel that in some exercises failure is dangerous, too dangerous to take a chance. Some also cycle their intensity by going to failure at times and others, not. Most that I know have / use different ways to vary intensity with failure or overload training being just one way. I use failure when I feel it‘s appropriate, along with all the other methods I learned from Arthur and the many coaches I have come in contact with. My approach? Well I use a common sense approach……..Yes, I know common sense isn‘t very common……..but I try.

For those that are really interested in learning about HIT there is an abundance of information available. Arthur was a prolific writer and many others have compiled a wealth of articles and books all on this subject. I don‘t hold it against anyone that doesn‘t want to use HIT and I sure don‘t think of it as a religion as some have insinuated. So do what you feel is best for your training.

Oh, by the way, my definition would be:

―HIT is a safe, sensible, and practical approach to strength training and conditioning. Methods vary but so do needs. It is up to the coach or trainee to match them to their situation. HIT is not a ―secret training method‖ that only a select few know. Its use is very wide spread and sources of information abound.

Here‘s another definition I like to describe what High Intensity Training is:

“HIT is anything that makes one muscularly larger and stronger due to very hard, focused work on a limited number of exercises, using a limited number of sets, with a controlled and relatively limited training frequency.” Dr. Ken.

Truth is I don‘t need a definition. I‘m happy with what I do. And I enjoy it too.

Is that HIT?

Who knows?

Train Hard, be safe, and be productive!

P.S.  To order your copy of the High Performance Training New-Letter, or  some of the other great resources available from Fred Fornicola, click on one of the links below.

“High Performance Training Newsletter”

“Strength and Fitness for a Lifetime: How We Train Now”

“Enhancing Fitness Through Flexibility”

“Dumbbell Training for Strength and Fitness”

“Youth Fitness: AnAction Plan for Shaping America’s Kids”

W.O.W #6 “Santa Cruz”

By Wayne “Scrapper” Fischer

Don’t be misled by the subtle appearance of this workout. It’s very tough, and has the ability to challenge you on multiple levels.

Progress through each exercise with no rest.

Take a :60 rest after each round.

Record your total number of rounds completed and the overall completion time.

Push yourself on the next run-through and see if you can improve your time. Be aware of individual areas where you can shave seconds off your workout. Transitions between exercises and times on the Concept 2 & Versa Climber machines are 2 of the most obvious.

Good luck and train hard!

Santa Cruz
VersaClimber OR Concept 2 Rower : VC: 250ft. C2: 500m
Overhead Lunges (KB or DB) : x30
Wall Ball Toss : x20
Hanging Knee Raises : x15

Perform 3 to 5 rounds for time

Note: “KB” and “DB” refer to Kettlebells and Dumbbells, respectively

TAKU’s NOTE: This is one of many Workouts of the Week that we create at Hybrid Fitness. If you are feeling hammered when your done, be sure to let Scrapper know.

© 2006-2009 All Rights Reserved. Reproduction without permission prohibited.

Spartan Training: Different Methods for Different People

BY J.C. Santana

Spartan Training:

Low-Tech, High-Touch Training for the Warrior in You

Many new training methods have been developed over time. One look in any fitness catalogue will show you many different pieces of equipment used to train strength and function. At the Institute of Human Performance (IHP), we have the great fortune of owning the latest in training and research equipment. However, even at IHP, we often get down to the basics and go for Spartan training. Spartan training is basically junkyard training; we simply make our own equipment out of anything found in a junkyard and rock and roll. We use stairs, hills, tires, cars, sandbags, ropes, PVC pipes, rocks, and whatever else catches our interest to create a great training environment. Once we have created the environment, we let our imaginations run wild. This article is the first in a series on IHP Spartan Training. Each subsequent article will cover our unique equipment and methods in more detail. For now, let’s take a sneak preview of some of our favorite forms of IHP Spartan Training.

One of the simplest ways of developing great legs is to run hills, bridges, or stairs. However, IHP kicks leg training into another gear with the truck push. A single push of the Navigator around our parking lot (i.e., about 80 yards with turns) is enough to kill most people; we normally get teams of 3 to 4 people doing 3 to 5 laps each. Another excellent form of Spartan training for the total body is dragging tires. At IHP, we drag tires in many ways; we push and pull them using many different strategies and lower body movements. We also use a variety of handles and grips to make tire training a bit more interesting. Adding various straps, PVC handles, iron bars, and other grips can turn simple exercises into absolute nightmares-pull-ups on big PVC grips are an example of doing just that! Of course, when all else fails there is Spartan body weight training. Whether using a partner or just going solo, you can use body weight training to take a huge departure from your traditional jumping jacks and lunges. Single-limb training and partner lifts can make the toughest men cry for help.

Spartan training can be modified to fit any age, gender, or training level. A little imagination is all that is needed in order to keep Spartan training safe, effective, and fun. A general rule of thumb is to start very light and use more volume to develop a good base of training and to get familiar with the equipment and movements. Then, slowly bring in the more aggressive methods. The Essence of Body Weight Training DVD series and book (available at provide over 200 body weight exercises and variations that will develop a great training base and gladiator-style Spartan strength.

Visit for some Spartan Strength video clips.

TAKU’s NOTE: Thanks to my friend JC Santana for this weeks article. For those few who may not have heard of him…JC Santana is a world renowned speaker, author, consultant, and strength coach. JC has one of the largest libraries of training DVDs and Books in the fitness industry -check him and his products out at