The real benefit of ice baths.
There has been an explosion of biohacking articles & instagram/tiktok reels available online that repeat exactly the same claims about ice baths, cold showers, plunges, cold tubs & deliberate cold exposure. Highlighting reduced inflammation, exercise recovery, improved performance, immune system, weight-loss & metabolic benefits etc…
They all say the same exact thing, because they are all copying from each other.
“It’ll increase ketone neuro- thermogenesis cold shock protein upregulating bio-hormone glucose thyroid enhancing mega brown adipose skinny fat mitochondria cardiovascular enhancement”..they all say
Satire? Science..? Who really knows anymore, it doesn’t matter the slightest.
The benefits of getting into the ice are profound & the research but there is nothing worse than doing something because everyone else is doing it.
The psychological advantage(s) of the cold is the REAL benefit
Getting into the frigid ice is one of the single most potent practices that you can utilize to build mental toughness.
Because what better way to enhance mental potential than putting your mind and body into ice filled water everyday, you’re literally training yourself to become comfortable in the uncomfortable. There’s enduring value in that.
-The deets. (Minus the scientific mumbo-jumbo)
[So how cold should the temperature of the water be?]
“Everything you want is on the other side of fear”-
says alot of people who give good advice so…
Cold enough to frighten you;
Cold enough, that when you get in- you want to immediately get out.
Truth is, none of the psychological benefits kick in until your anxiety does.
Entering the freezing water creates sheer panic- an involuntary gasp for air reflex.
It is an autonomic, fight or flight response that may convince you that you’re about to die.
Overcoming that reflex requires first gaining control of your breathing first & gaining control over the other automatic reactions in your body second.
This is where the magic happens-
By consciously breathing deep & slow, you have the opportunity to condition yourself to have a new reaction to stress.
& this is a skill/adaptation that you can apply in your everyday life.
Because let’s face it- we’re all stressed.
Learn how to deal with your stress, train for adversity & build your mental toughness in some frigid water.
The more voluntary suffering you build into your life,
the less involuntary suffering will affect your life.
[How long do I stay in the water to make sure I get the benefits?]
Depends. How long does it take you to get your anxiety under control?
All of the aforementioned benefits touted by fitness enthusiasts gives you extrinsic motivators to focus on. When you’re focused on the internal growth- that is an entirely new demon & it requires an entirely unique approach.
The real motivation is coming from some vague idea of the person you want to become. And that person is a better version of yourself — someone capable of keeping their “cool” even when events out of your control might cause stress or setbacks.
Somewhere in that cascade of involuntary reactions, shortness of breath & fighting the water-
When it’s just you and that frigid cold water working things out.
Once you will overcome all of the natural reflexes & relax
& then a finite time duration will no longer matter to you…
You’ll come to understand that it is simply about training your body to adapt to suffering.
That’s why you should get into the ice;
That is the real benefit of deliberate cold exposure.
Everything else is just extra.