Cool-down should consist of static stretches (e.g., standing hamstring stretch).The primary purpose of the cool-down is to decrease the temperature of the body, increase lactic acid removal from the muscles, and decrease muscle soreness and stiffness later. You have four choices when it comes to static stretching (i.e., lengthening and holding the stretch of a muscle):
- Stretch between each set of a particular exercise; and/or
- Stretch after performing all sets of a particular exercise; and/or
- Stretch after performing all exercises of a particular muscle group; and/or
- Stretch after performing the entire workout.
Whichever option you choose is dependent on your preference--either/all method(s) is/are good. It may be more beneficial to stretch sooner for each muscle group exercised (i.e., immediately after a chest exercise) rather than later after the workout for all muscle groups exercised (i.e., after chest, back and bicep exercises). Regardless, the important concept here is to perform static stretching after exercising when the muscles are warm rather than before exercising when the muscles are cold. One word of caution: too much stretching can cause injury. Stretch each muscle for no more than 30 seconds duration and perform each stretch no more than four times per muscle.
Brian Danley, CFT
"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going."