How to Cold Plunge: The Ultimate Guide
Ready to take your health game up a notch?
Cold plunge tubs are all the rage right now and for good reason – it’s an incredibly effective way to boost your energy, improve your mood, and increase your performance. But where do you start? This guide will teach you everything you need to know about cold plunging so you can get the most out of each session.
You’ll learn how to make the plunge in no time! Plus, we’ll give you tips on how to make cold plunging work best for your routine. Whether you’re just starting or are a seasoned pro, this guide has something for everyone.
Read this guide and take your first cold plunge today!
What Is Cold Plunging And What Are The Benefits
*We’re reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Cold plunging, also known as cold water immersion, is a form of physical therapy that involves exposing the body to very cold temperatures for a brief period.
The process involves immersing oneself in a tank filled with ice water.
Cold water therapy has been around since the early 19th century when it was first used to treat various medical conditions such as rheumatism and neuralgia.
However, more recently it has become popular amongst athletes and fitness enthusiasts for its wide range of potential health benefits.
One of the main benefits associated with cold plunging is its ability to boost immunity and help the body fight off infection.
Studies have shown that exposure to cold temperatures can activate white blood cells which enhances their ability to detect and destroy invading organisms.
This helps reduce inflammation throughout the body which in turn boosts immunity and helps protect against diseases.
Another benefit of cold plunging is its ability to reduce muscle pain, soreness, and fatigue after exercise.
Ice therapy can be used to reduce swelling in areas affected by injury or overuse and can even help treat chronic conditions like bursitis or tendonitis.
It may also increase circulation which helps speed up muscle recovery after intense physical activity.
Finally, cold plunging can help stimulate brown adipose tissue (BAT). This type of fat found in some mammals plays an important role in thermogenesis – producing heat from fat stores – helping keep our bodies warm during extreme temperatures.
Stimulating BAT could potentially aid weight loss by increasing metabolism and burning more calories while at rest.
In conclusion, cold plunging has many beneficial effects ranging from enhanced immunity to reduced muscle pain and fatigue following exercise as well as increased thermogenesis stimulated by brown adipose tissue (BAT).
Cold therapy is becoming increasingly popular among athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and other people looking for natural ways to improve their overall health and well-being.
What you need
When cold plunging, it is important to take into account the temperature of the water.
Generally, for beginners, the water temperature should be between 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cold plunging in an ice bath tub can be beneficial because it allows you to control the temperature more easily than in a cold plunge pool.
It’s best to have someone with you when starting with cold water immersion as well as make sure to wear some sort of protective clothing like a sweatshirt or pants and socks and gloves to protect your skin from the cold water.
As always, listen to your body and if at any point it feels like you are getting uncomfortable or feeling ill then it may be time to get out of the water and warm up as naturally as the post before attempting another session.
Step-by-Step Instructions For Becoming A Cold Plunge Pro
If you’re new to cold plunging then be sure to start small and work your way up to deeper dives as you get used to the sensation of getting into ice-cold water.
You don’t want to dive straight into a durable ice bath if you’ve never done it before – take it gradually from there.
Before the plunge
Before taking a plunge into icy cold water, it is essential to mentally and physically prepare.
Submerging yourself in cold water can bring powerful mental and health benefits.
It’s important to remember that the temperature of your plunge pool should be low, but not so low it makes you uncomfortable.
Ideally, fill the pool or dip with local well water between 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on your level of comfort.
Even if it feels like an extreme challenge at first, I guarantee you’ll look forward to cold plunges soon enough!
The sudden immersion of the body into frigid temperatures can be daunting, so it is important to do what you can to make sure the experience is positive and beneficial.
One way of preparing for a cold plunge is to start by acclimating your body to the cold temperature before fully doing cold water immersion.
Begin by exposing yourself to colder temperatures such as stepping outside in cold weather or spending time in an air-conditioned room.
Gradually lower your body temperature until you feel comfortable enough with the cold before taking a full plunge.
It can also be helpful to do some breathing exercises in preparation for embracing the icy water.
Deep breathing will help calm down the mind and relax any tension that may have built up before the jump.
It will also help regulate blood flow throughout your body and slow down your heart rate, making it easier for your body to adjust when you enter the freezing waters.
Finally, visualizing yourself having a successful plunge can help ease some of your fear about entering incredibly cold water.
Imagine yourself going into the water without feeling overwhelmed or uncomfortable; this will help you maintain an open state of mind so that you are more likely to enjoy your experience despite its intense chill factor!
During the plunge
A cold plunge is an effective way to improve mental health and improve circulation.
The practice of submerging oneself in cold water can also help to reduce stress and increase energy levels.
When starting a cold plunge regimen, it is important to begin slowly and build up gradually.
This will allow the body to adjust to the shock of the cold and make it easier for you to cope with the sensation.
Fill your bathtub or an ice bath or barrel with cold water – ideally between 50-60°F – depending on your comfort level and tolerance.
Submerge yourself up to your waist, taking slow deep breaths as you do so.
Once comfortable, stay in the water for 30 seconds or longer; timing is up to your personal preference and tolerance level, but take it slow at the first building to the ideal 3 minutes.
As you become more accustomed to the shock of the plunging process, gradually increase both the duration and intensity of each session.
You may want to experiment with adding ice cubes for an even colder experience; however, this should only be done after regular practice at lower temperatures has been established safely over time.
After the plunge
After taking a cold plunge, it is important to let your body reheat naturally and not jump in a warm bath or shower right away.
Cold plunges are known to stimulate blood circulation, reduce inflammation, and improve immune system function.
Most cold plunges involve submerging one’s body in a pool of very cold water for about one to three minutes, called cold water immersion, which can be an invigorating experience for people looking for a natural way to recharge their bodies.
The shock of the cold water forces the heart rate up as the body works to keep itself warm which results in increased blood flow throughout the entire body.
This increased blood flow helps bring oxygen-rich blood and essential nutrients to all parts of the body.
Additionally, it helps remove metabolic waste and toxins from the organs, muscles, joints, and tissues.
In effect, this flushes out any impurities that may be present in these areas and promotes overall health.
Taking regular cold plunges also helps boost endorphin levels in the brain which can increase physical endurance while decreasing stress hormones like cortisol that can lead to fatigue and depression if they stay elevated too long.
Finally, cold plunging can help improve skin tone as it tightens pores and stimulates collagen production leading to fewer wrinkles.
Allowing your body time to naturally reheat after engaging in a cold plunge will ensure that you maximize all of its benefits without putting yourself at risk for chills or illness.
Key Considerations For Getting The Most Out Of Your Cold Plunge
Cold water has many health benefits, including increased circulation and blood flow, improved immune system functioning, stress relief, better sleep quality, increased energy levels, decreased inflammation, improved muscle recovery after exercise, and more.
However, it’s important to make sure that you are doing your cold plunge most safely and effectively as possible.
There are a few key considerations to keep in mind when taking a cold plunge:
The ideal temperature for a cold plunge is between 10-15°C (50-59°F).
This range of temperatures will help to stimulate the body without causing shock or distress.
Avoid temperatures below 10°C (50°F) as this can lead to hypothermia and other serious medical issues.
Start slowly with how long you spend in the cold water – 30 seconds is usually sufficient for beginners.
You can gradually increase your duration as your body adjusts over time; however, never stay submerged for longer than 3 minutes at first.
Be sure to exit the water before you start feeling uncomfortable or experiencing any pain or numbness in your extremities.
Most people find that 2-4 times a week is the best frequency for reaping the greatest health benefits from their cold plunge routine.
Too frequent immersion can lead to overtraining which can hurt both mental and physical well-being.
Breath control while immersed in cold water can help improve circulation throughout the body by stimulating nerve impulses and activating the sympathetic nervous system response – the response responsible for increasing heart rate and blood pressure during extreme or stressful situations.
Taking deep breaths helps oxygenate your cells so make sure to take slow, deep breaths throughout your session.
A good breathing technique is known as “box breathing” where you inhale deeply through your nose while counting to four; hold at the top of your breath while counting four again; exhale through pursed lips while counting four; hold at the bottom of your breath while counting four again before starting again at step one.
5. Cold Water Immersion Safety:
Always check with a doctor before beginning any new exercise regimen especially if you have pre-existing medical conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, etc.
Use extreme caution when submerging into very chilly waters either alone or without proper supervision by someone experienced with these types of exercises and activities.
Taking It Up A Notch: How To Cold Plunge Like A Pro
When it comes to contrast therapy, hot and cold plunges are a great way to maximize the benefits.
Here in Vermont, this is something we tend to learn to do from a young age and we tend to get a kick out of it!
For those looking to get the most out of their cold plunge experience, there are some key considerations.
First and foremost, it is important to remember that hot tubs and cold plunges should ideally not be done consecutively.
Allow at least 10 minutes in between each plunge for your body to adjust temperature and acclimate.
Your body needs time to regulate its temperature; if you jump right into another plunge, you won’t get the full benefit of each one.
It is also important to remember that the optimal temperature for a cold plunge is typically much lower than what you would expect from a normal bath or pool.
You will want to aim for temperatures between 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit or 12-15 degrees Celsius.
This may make it difficult or uncomfortable initially, but with practice and proper technique, your body will begin to adjust more quickly and easily.
Finally, make sure that you keep your cold plunges short.
Aim for 2-3 minutes of total immersion time with 30 seconds in the hot tub beforehand for best results.
Longer exposure can cause discomfort and put unnecessary strain on your body—making it less likely that you’ll continue with regular contrast therapy sessions over time.
Overall, by following these tips and doing your research on proper technique, you will be able to get the most out of every contrast therapy session via hot/cold plunges!
Alternatives To Cold Plunging
An alternative to cold plunging that is gaining popularity in the health and wellness world is outdoor swimming in winter.
This type of swimming involves taking a dip in the cold waters during the wintertime, usually between November and February.
It’s an activity that offers several physical and mental benefits when done correctly, such as increased circulation, improved cardiovascular health, enhanced endorphin production, increased alertness, heightened focus and concentration, and an improved immune system.
Winter swimmers often wear wet suits or swim costumes for cold water immersion to keep them warm while they swim in chilly temperatures.
This type of clothing helps to reduce some of the shock associated with submerging oneself into very cold water.
Often they will also use protective gear such as gloves and booties to further protect the skin from freezing temperatures.
Many winter swimmers also practice deep breathing exercises before entering the water to help prepare their body for the extreme temperature change it is about to experience.
For those who prefer not to take a plunge into icy waters, there are other ways to enjoy all of the benefits associated with cold-water immersion without going outside!
Cold showering can be an effective way to reap many of these same rewards; this type of practice involves taking a cool shower instead of a hot one for just a few minutes each day.
Taking colder showers has been known to increase energy levels, reduce stress hormones in the body, stimulate immune system response, and even aid in weight loss due to increased metabolic rates during exposure time!
Another way for people who do not want to take part in water-related extreme activities like cold water therapy is cryotherapy chambers which controversially use extremely low temperatures over short periods (3-4 minutes) for health benefits similar to those discussed earlier.
Cryotherapy chambers typically reach temperatures ranging from -130°F up to -250°F; this process has become increasingly popular recently due to its relatively short treatment duration and ability to help improve recovery times after intense workouts or strenuous activities.
These are some alternative methods that offer similar benefits as taking a cold plunge without having to deal with plunging into ice-cold water!
Wrapping Up And My Experiences With Cold Plunges
Wrapping up my experiences with cold plunges, I can confidently say that the contrast therapy I have participated in over the years has been beneficial for both my physical and mental health.
Doing winter swimming or ‘plunging’ is often referred to as a type of sauna, but without the heat; instead of using heat to create humidity, it uses cold water.
The idea behind winter swimming is that you’re exposing yourself to extreme temperatures for a short amount of time and then returning to normal temperature again, providing a unique ‘shock’ to your system.
The physical benefits of cold water therapy are numerous: it boosts your circulation and helps improve muscle recovery after exercise; it reduces inflammation, improves joint mobility, and encourages oxygen delivery throughout your body; it helps stimulate the production of endorphins which results in better moods and feelings of wellbeing.
It also stimulates your lymphatic system, helping to flush toxins from your cells. On top of all this, cold plunges can reduce stress levels dramatically due to the brain releasing more serotonin when exposed to cold temperatures.
Mentally, swimming in the winter can provide clarity by allowing you to practice mindfulness and focus on your breath while taking part in activities like meditation or yoga while submerged in cold water.
The combination of this calming sensation along with increased endorphins makes this kind of cold water exposure an ideal choice for improving mental health by reducing anxiety and depression symptoms.
Plus, when done regularly, it can help reduce cortisol levels – our body’s ‘stress hormone’.
Overall, I am grateful that I grew up with access to these natural resources which enabled me to discover the power of contrasts between hot tubs (or hippy saunas) and invigorating river plunges – something now known as ‘cold therapy’ – so many years ago.
While there are still many medical questions surrounding its safety and efficacy, my own experience has been overwhelmingly positive – both physically and mentally – making me a huge fan!
Frequently Asked Questions About Cold Plunges
What are cold plunges good for?
Cold plunges, also known as ‘ice baths’, are an incredibly beneficial tool for athletes and weekend warriors alike.
Cold water therapy has long been used to reduce inflammation, relieve muscle soreness, and help with recovery after a hard workout – not only is it surprisingly effective, but it’s also easy enough that anyone can do it at home.
People who regularly partake in cold plunging cite reduced pain when working out, increased energy levels due to better sleep quality, and improved blood circulation throughout their bodies.
If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, why not give cold plunging a try? It may just be the missing piece in your training regimen!
How long should you cold plunge?
Cold plunging can be a great way to give your body a boost!
If you’re new to the practice, it’s best to start with only one or two minutes at a time, gradually increasing the time as your body gets used to the cold temperatures.
Cold plunging done right can help with improving circulation, reducing inflammation and soreness, and promoting feelings of relaxation.
When done regularly, your body will eventually become more adept at managing cold temperatures.
But even if it’s a regular practice for you, remember not to overdo it – don’t go beyond five minutes in any session!
How often should I cold plunge?
Cold plunging is like a secret weapon for athletes looking to increase their performance and reduce recovery time.
The idea behind it is that you take your body from a state of extreme warmth to one of extreme cold – usually by submerging yourself in an ice bath – and reap the rewards.
When done correctly, the effects can be profound, hence why so many elite athletes swear by the practice.
But the big question remains: How often should I cold plunge? And that’s really up to each individual’s needs and preferences.
Some recommend taking regular plunges throughout their training periods whereas others suggest doing them only when necessary.
Generally speaking, to get the ideal benefits, 2-4 times a week is ideal.
Either way, start small and adjust how frequently you do them depending on how they make you feel. Who knows, maybe they’ll turn out to be your secret weapon too!
Is a cold dip good for you?
A cold dip might sound like a bad experience, but in actuality, it can provide great health benefits!
For anyone looking to take a break from everyday stress and live in the moment, jumping into a chilly lake or pool is a terrific way to reset.
Swimming in colder water has been shown to reduce blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health.
It can also increase energy levels, alertness, and mental focus.
Surprisingly beneficial for regulating mood, endorphins released from cold-water stimulation help us tackle the day ahead with confidence and enthusiasm!
All of this adds up to an overall feeling of well-being – making a cool dip more than just a simple pleasure.