At Tri Force we are massive advocates of a well performed cool down (CD). It’s something we see a lot of athlete’s neglect as part of their daily training sessions. 

You know what I’m talking about.

*Getting out the pool straight after the last set.

*Finishing a tough bike session, shower and get on with the day.

*Complete a track set, trainers off and drive to the supermarket

That ^^^ worries me.


So let’s change things, let’s talk about the “THREE W’s and an H”

What/Why and When/How of a cool down.


This will hopefully help athletes

* Understand why we should perform this post exercise

* The performance benefits we get from these.

(That way I believe more of us will make time, me included, for the CD to happen)


What is a cool down?

In a nutshell it’s a series of light exercise that follows demanding physical activity.


The session will usually include gentle cardiovascular exercise and static stretching activity. The duration of which will depend on the activity just taken place.


Why do we perform them at all?
This is the performance part:

Our aim is to slowly decrease the heart rate by lowering the intensity of the exercise; either by pace/power or RPE and then static stretching.


This brings the body back to a less heightened state relaxing the muscles, lowering core temperature.


It’s an important time in a session that will help to dispose of waste metabolites created by intense physical exercise such as Lactic Acid (LA).


You may have heard the term “Blood Pooling”. This happens after vigorous exercises, which demands high volume of blood to be circulated into the muscles.


Without a proper cool down blood pooling can occur which means LA can build up causing pain, stiffness and cramp in following sessions to come. I bet you thought your cramp was just down to hydration?


What you may not have considered is when you’re consistently tight, stiff and sore you move badly and that has major ramifications to common injury down the line.


Clearly this has a knock on affect to the consistency and intensity of your training. So you see, the cool down has as much, if not more importance to preventing such injuries.


A light cool down will help keep the blood circulating throughout the body post exercise delivering rich oxygen supplies and removing waste metabolites.


Simply stated, suddenly stopping training and doing nothing is harming your progress and future performance.


When and How?

A cool down should fall directly after your session. The intensity of the session will determine the content and how you perform it, but to help you out here is a basic example of good practice.


After a High Intensity V02 Run Rep Session:
– Include a good 10min Run EASY “RPE 2” (10 Being VERY TOUGH)
– Complete a series of static stretches working all major muscle groups for 10 Mins.
– Hydrate throughout and replace lost electrolytes
Total: 20mins

Thanks for reading

Billy Harriss BSc MSc
Level 2 British Triathlon Coach 
Head Coach


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