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Why You Should Cool Down After a Boxing Workout

Performing a cool down routine at the end of your boxing workout is important. Just like you warm up your body before a workout, you need to cool it down to finish afterward.

The cool down is that final crucial step to any workout. It serves to lower your heart rate, lower your body temperature, and stretch your body to reduce inflammation and soreness.

What is a cool down routine?

A cool down routine is a sequence of exercises to help your body safely exit training mode.

Usually, you begin cooling down with a low intensity dynamic exercise to decrease your heart rate. Then you start stretching your muscles while the body is still warm. By the time you finish stretching, your heart rate and body temperature are lower, sweating is reduced, and you are ready to hit the shower!

How long should you cool down after a workout?

Depending on the length and intensity of your training, it may take between 5 and 15 minutes to cool down after a workout. The length of your cool down also depends on the types of exercises you wish to include.

What is a good cool down after exercise?

Depending on your training, here are two typical cool down exercises you may see boxers do:

Shadowboxing

Different from punch combination drills and boxing workouts, a shadowboxing cool down is more of a slowly guided and practiced movement routine. Start with 1-2 rounds of low-intensity, very slow shadowboxing in front of a mirror. Your heart rate goes down, while you're doing something that's never boring and is actually beneficial to your technique, not just a cool down.

Static Stretching

End your workout with static stretching exercises for your arms, back, core, and legs. Your muscles will recover easier and faster if you end your workout with stretching. Many boxers include stretching in both their warm up and cool down routines.

What are good cool down stretches?

Boxing is a workout for your whole body, so you should aim to stretch all of the large muscle groups as well. During a cool down, you want to perform static stretching exercises.

Here is how a typical static stretch works:

  • Extend a specific muscle until you reach the maximal point where you feel comfortable (and maybe a tiny bit beyond that point)
  • Hold the position for 5 to 20 seconds
  • Release

Check this video by FightCamp trainer Shanie "Smash" Rusth for a great static stretching routine.

Here are some of the typical cool down stretches you want to do:

Shoulder Pull


  • Take your right arm and pull it across your chest with your left arm
  • Hold your right arm and hold for at least 20 seconds
  • Switch arms and hold for another 20 seconds

Tricep Pull


  • Pull your right arm behind your head so that your right elbow is pointed towards the sky
  • Keep your arm in place with your left arm
  • Release after 20 seconds and switch to your left arm

Chest Pull

As a note, this next stretch works best if you have a boxing punching bag, but a wall will also help you perform this stretch if you do not:

  • Position yourself so that your bag or wall is directly next to the right side of your body
  • Lift your right arm out to the side and grab onto the wall or bag
  • Without releasing, slowly tilt your body away from your arm and feel the stretch in your right pectoral muscle and bicep
  • Hold for at least 20 seconds and switch arms

Standing Quad Pull


  • From a standing position, lift and bend your right leg backward at the knee
  • Grab your right foot behind you with your right hand and pull your leg slightly to stretch
  • Hold for 20 seconds and switch legs
  • Feel free to use a bag or wall to balance yourself for this stretch.

Knee To Chest Pull


  • Lift your right leg again, but bend your leg up towards your chest and grab your knee with both your hands
  • Pull your leg as close to your chest as possible and hold for 20 seconds
  • Switch legs and perform the same movement

Standing Open Hip Stretch

For beginners, it’s best to have a bag or wall next to you to balance:

  • Lift your right leg up and bend at your knee
  • Grab your right leg with both your hands along your shin and open your hip so that your shin is perpendicular to your body
  • Gently pull your shin toward you feeling the stretch across your hip
  • Hold for 20 seconds and switch legs

Hands To The Floor


  • From a standing position, spread both your legs about 2-3x shoulder-width apart
  • Bend at your waist until your hands are planted firmly on the ground
  • Let gravity pull you down, and then lean towards your right leg, grabbing at your calf
  • Hold for about 20 seconds and lean towards your left side and repeat the hold

Butterfly


  • Sit down on the ground and bring the bottoms of your feet together, so that your legs are pointing out to the side
  • Bend forward at the waist and aim to get your head as close to your toes as possible--keep your back as flat as possible to reduce strain
  • Hold for 20 seconds and release

One Leg In, One Leg Out


  • From a sitting position, extend your right leg out in front of you
  • Pull your left foot inward against your right thigh
  • Bend forward and try to reach as far as you can toward your right toes
  • Hold for 20 seconds and switch legs

Reach For Your Toes


  • Sit down and extend both of your legs out in front of you
  • Bend at your waist and reach as far forward as you can toward your toes
  • Remember to breathe and hold this stretch for at least 20 seconds

Child's Pose


  • Start this stretch from all fours as if you were about to go into a push-up position
  • Without moving your hands from their position, sit back and try to get your glutes as close as possible to the heels of your feet
  • From this position, try to crawl forward with your fingertips without lifting your glutes or legs
  • Hold for 20 seconds and release

For ideas on stretching for both, warm-up and cool down - check this article.

How does stretching in a cool down aid recovery from exercise?

Stretching during your cool down improves the blood circulation through your body, lessening the time for recovery after a workout. The tissue that gets better circulation recovers easier and faster.

Stretching also increases mobility, and when done prior to workout, helps to protect you from injury. Tendons and ligaments don't stretch, so by stretching the muscles they connect to, you avoid injuries to connective tissue and joints.

One other effect of stretching after a workout is that you will feel more loose and mobile for your next workout. When you train intensively (every day, or more than once a day) you have to make sure you aren’t overtraining and susceptible to any injuries. Without a proper cool down and not properly recovering, if injured, you may have to stop training completely.

As you can see, a cool down routine is vital to any training program, especially a boxing workout. It will bring your heart rate down, lower your body temperature, reduce sweating, and most importantly, lead to faster recovery.

Related Articles

Six (6) Dynamic and Static At-Home Boxing Stretches
8-Minute Cool Down Static Stretching Routine For Boxing


The Author: Nikolay Tsenkov is a dad, husband, entrepreneur, and boxing aficionado. He started training late, when he was 26 years old. One of his biggest regrets in life is that he never competed. For several years he has trained alongside national and European champions and professional boxers. He is an avid student of boxing, but enjoys all sorts of martial arts.