Can cold showers boost your gains?
Cold baths have been used by humans dating back millennia. Ancient Mediterranean’s included cold pools as a critical part of their bath systems. In fact, they were valued more highly than hot baths, because it was easy to heat water, but difficult to chill it in the days before icemaking and refrigeration. In this article, we will detail how cold showers can help maximize recovery, help with inflamation and stimulate blood flow.
To this day, practitioners of Shinto meditate under icy waterfalls in a practice known Misogi, and pioneers like the Danish Wim Hof are testing the limits of the human body through its interaction with the cold stimulus.
Of course, ice baths, freezing showers, and cold exposure as a whole are all standard recovery practices for many elite athletes, especially bodybuilders, such as Chris Bumstead, who is the reigning Classic Physique Mr. Olympia champion. Chris Bumstead indulges in an ice bath several times a week, and we will dive into the benefits of doing that shortly.
We have compiled a list of just three reasons why forced cold exposure is beneficial for your bodybuilding progress. So, that being said, here are three ways taking a cold bath, or even cold shower, can aid your bodybuilding endeavors and help to further your progress.
Cold Exposure can Help Boost Your Metabolism
First of all, as everyone knows, forced cold exposure helps to boost metabolism, which is absolutely essential when it comes to shedding off that unwanted body fat. While forcing yourself to freeze with the intent to drop fat levels may seem somewhat backwards, as the body burns fat for heat in a process known as thermogenesis, cold exposure is very effective for fat burning. So wouldn’t you want to do something like sit in a sauna to burn fat? Well, not necessarily.
If you submerge the body in cold, it will dramatically increase fat burning to maintain homeostasis. As a matter of fact, a 2014 study by the Naturopathy Clinical, SDM College of Naturopathy and Yogic Sciences, Ujire, India, concluded that submersion in 14°C can increase metabolic rate by 350%.
The cold water is also found to stimulate brown adipse tissue (BAT) aka brown fat, which might sound like a bad thing at first, but brown fat actually plays a critical role in converting other fat to heat.
Cold Exposure can Help to Boost Testosterone
Testosterone is a crucial hormone for putting on and maintaining muscle mass, increasing sex drive, confidence, and other masculine features; it is also an essential hormone in both men and women. Unfortunately, as we age, what we eat and drink, and many other factors such as stress have been found to decrease testosterone levels. That being said, we are always looking for ways to naturally raise our testosterone, and many studies have found correlation between taking cold baths and high testosterone levels. The question is, can we explain and prove causation?
There is actually quite a bit of logic behind cold showers raising testosterone levels. Other studies have concluded that the testes work optimally at colder temperatures. Also, even ancient Greeks noticed the difference in form between Mediterranean and Scandinavian peoples. Cold temperature was considered to be a fundamental cause of the larger and hairier bodies.
Cold baths reduce cortisol (stress hormone), which is good because higher levels of cortisol will negatively effect your testosterone levels. Cortisol reduction will also help to engage the parasympathetic nervous system, which aids in deep sleep.
Cold Exposure is a Great to Start the Day
Yes, it may not be what you want to do first thing in the morning, and yes it may seem counterintuitive that something that helps you sleep can also be great in the morning, but think about it almost like a workout. It stimulates the release of anti-depressant endorphins, stimulates blood flow, spikes the heart rate/metabolism, and activates the nervous system, connecting mind to body.
Also, the mental discipline required to douse oneself in freezing water is much sharper in the morning. Try 5 minute cold showers and see how they affect you.
Now, sure you can turn the shower on cold and just do that, but wouldn’t it be easier to have a specific tub for ice baths? Something easy to store and effective?
Ice Barrel Cold Plunge
Many top performing athletes use ice baths, and you can do join in on that as well with one product that the Generation Iron team recommends for all of your ice bath needs, which is Ice Barrel.
Ice Barrel stands 42 inches high with a width of just 31 inches, making it easy to transport and store. However, it is still big enough for you to stay in an upright position, rather than a reclined position. The upright position is great for you to fully experience the natural response of forced cold exposure. The design of Ice Barrel also allows you to choose how much you wish to submerge yourself, whether that’s up to your neck and shoulders or even dunking completely in the cold water.
Ice Barrel products are made to take a beating, as each one is crafted from impact and puncture resistant materials, so they are extremely durable yet lightweight, but each one is still backed by a lifetime warranty.
Another thing worth mentioning is the Ice Barrel is eco-friendly, as it is made from linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE), which is a non-toxic, BPA-free, medical-grade material. The barrels are also non-porous, so it won’t absorb oils, toxins or other contaminants.
Overall, recovery is something that you do not want to play around with, and forced cold exposure is a great way to help you recover. Cold exposure is also something that can help further your progress with fat loss, and even raise your testosterone levels to help you build more muscle mass. Sure, you can take cold showers but it is much easier to have a tub specifically for your ice bath needs, and for that our team at Generation Iron recommends Ice Barrel.
Will you be giving ice baths a try?