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Stretching and Cooldown

Stretching… Yawn. It’s not part of the workout and the whole process feels like lip service before you really tear into your workouts. Lame.

Or so I’ve been told by clock watchers looking to shave some minutes off their workouts. After all, in programs like P90X and P90X2 warm-up and cool down take up 15-25% of the workout. Skip it and save some time, right?

Wrong (you knew that answer was coming, yeah?). Skipping your warm-up and especially cool-down doesn’t do you any good– and while they’re not necessarily mandatory, they offer more benefit than not.

Why Stretch, Anyway?

Stretching can be beneficial but it’s not necessarily some mandatory secret weapon you’ll crash and burn without attempting. There’s some debate around how and when it’s most effective but overall, stretching is complementary and can really help bring those muscles you’ve contracted (or are preparing to contract) some relief. After all, muscle does tend to tighten up after being worked and stretching them out invites elasticity…. and elasticity allows your muscles to be better better prepared for more contracting.

In other words, stretching helps recovery and prevents injury which can occur when a tight muscle is suddenly elongated after being contracted for a period of time. And did I mention stretching can help relive soreness? That’s a pretty good reason to do it in and of itself.

In the same way, warming up gets blood flowing to muscles, prepping them for action.

Cool Down

While stretching is a common part of  warm up as you limber your muscles and get them firing, it also plays a part in cool down. Since you may have been jumping around plyo style or shredding muscle and lifting to failure, there’s all kinds of relief that comes from slowing your breathing, getting your heart rate down and coming to a general state of relative stasis.

Cool down stretching, more than a nice mental wind-down, also helps prevent blood pooling in the body.When you work out your heart pumps larger amounts of blood to your muscles to provide more oxygen and nutrients to keep them working under stress.  When you stop working out, the heart slows and potentially, without a nice cool down, there’s the possibility of all that shuttled blood not being flushed out, which in turn causes pain and swelling.  A nice cool down and stretch keeps circulation going and allows things to normalize.

Either way, whether or not stretching is VITAL, the whole process can be a solid way to avoid injury and get focused… and that’s always helpful.

Got questions? Send ‘em on through– you’ll not only help yourself, you’ll help countless others! Email me here or at You can also receive the additional one on one support you need by making me your free Beachbody Coach right here. 


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