Skip the coffee, jump into an ice bath instead.

If you’re looking to optimize your health, increase your energy (naturally!) and aid recovery, taking an ice bath might be where you should begin.

There’s an ancient Japanese ritual called shugendo, and it’s hardcore.

Shugendo includes a few purifying and soul awakening rituals, and eventually walking under an ice cold waterfall and entering a meditative state.

I’m fascinated with ancient cultures and rituals because most of the time there are some really fascinating nuggets of wisdom nestled in there.

When it comes to cold therapy, most of us know the more obvious benefits.

Cold therapy, like ice baths, cryotherapy, and cold showers are known to reduce inflammation and help promote healing to muscles and joints.

This benefit makes the practice worth it on it’s own, but there are some less obvious but very profound benefits that you may not know about.

  • It helps alleviate depression in a fairly short amount of time. It does this by activating the sympathetic nervous system, sending blood to the brain and core, and reducing systemic inflammation, which is strongly linked to depression.
  • It turns you into a badass. Hippocrates says that cold water therapy “allays physical and mental weakness.” If you’ve ever taken an ice cold shower or bath, you know exactly how this works. It takes some serious focus to stay in the cold water. This will build your will power (kind of like building a muscle) which will carry over to other important areas of your life, like kicking ass at the gym or at work.
  • It improves emotional resilience. If you can build the habit of getting into a meditative state while laying in ice cold water on a daily basis, this cool attitude will spill over to the rest of your life. You’ll be more calm, collected and well thought.
  • It reduces stress. Uric acid drops, glutathione increases….this means stress is down overall.
  • It’s better than a cup of coffee. Want to be alert, sharp and have the focus of a laser? Then turn off the hot water knob tomorrow morning. A cold shower or bath will leave you feeling energized and hyper focused. Your state dictates how you interact with the world, and icy baths leave you in a very heightened and positive emotional state.
  • As we mentioned above, hardcore monks did it thousands of years ago under cold waterfalls during the Japanese winters.

That pie looks pretty good to me, and I wanted a piece of it.

My First Crack at an Ice Bath

I’ve experimented with cold showers in the past. Usually it involved turning off the hot water for a few minutes before promptly turning it back up. Way up. Even so, these showers worked magic when it comes to getting into a positive and energized state of mind.

Today I decided to really dive into cold therapy, and run myself an ice bath. First, I filled the tub with cold water from the tap. Since it’s July, and I’m in Texas, it turns out the cold water doesn’t really get very cold. I put all the ice we had from the ice maker into the tub and it melted pretty quickly.

Off to the gas station, where I grabbed 30 lbs of ice, came home and dumped that in the tub. The ice didn’t melt. Game on.

As I stood beside the tub, I told myself “Nothing to it but to do it” in my best Ronnie Coleman voice. I stepped in the tub, and sat my butt down in the water and ice cubes. The air was immediately sucked from my lungs. Before I could talk myself out of it, I laid myself down in the water.

It looked like I was hyperventilating. It took me at least a couple minutes of short choppy breathing before I regained my composure. The water didn’t feel that cold on my skin. The most uncomfortable part was the fact my body was freaking out.

I doubled down my focus on my breathing, and eventually worked myself into a pattern of long and slow breaths. It started to feel good. I laid in the water, breathing slowly and working myself into a meditative state, the way I do each morning on the couch. While the biting cold water added a challenge that the couch doesn’t, it started to feel…interesting.

I was relaxed but hyper aware. My eyes were closed, but I was seeing patterns that looked like water on a lake (weird, I know). Once I reached this point, it was smooth sailing the rest of the way. After about 7 minutes I could tell that the water had stolen a good chunk of my body heat, and the water itself didn’t feel very cold anymore.

Once I got myself dried off, I felt amazing. Clear, awake, focused and energized. It wasn’t like a caffeine induced focus/ energy. It felt clean and clear, probably because it was provided by my own body and not an outside influence.

The short term benefits were worth it. To enjoy the long term benefits which are listed above, it will need to be a regular practice. While I don’t intend on bathing in 30 lbs of ice on a daily basis, I will be making cold showers a part of my morning routine.

Overall, I would rate this experience high, and I would encourage you to try it out. Of course, it’s very shocking, so be sure that you’re healthy and cleared to practice this type of thing by a doctor.

Do you have your own experiences with cold therapy? If so, comment below and tell me about it. I find this fascinating and would love to hear your story.

By Fitmo Coach and Ice Bath Enthusiast, Mitch Heaslip

Mitch is going to get you into the best shape of your life! But what’s his secret? Mitch has developed solid methods that work for both men and women in losing weight and building muscle. With his very flexible approach, Mitch can tailor his methods to anyone. When it comes to building strength, muscle, and losing fat, his approach is second to none!


Learn more about Mitch, and working with him via the Fitmo app here.

15 thoughts on “6 Reasons You Should Take the Plunge Have an Ice Bath

  1. Great post Fitmoteam!

    I am a huge cold plunge advocate. I have done my own experiments that were geared towards developing a mood boosting protocol. Check it out if you have a minute! I would love to hear your opinion.

    http://myelementfitness.com/feeling-good-by-using-a-morning-routine-cold-shower-drink-water-and-cardiovascular-exercise/

  2. I get in my pool every morning , winter and summer. I miss about 10 days a year if its extremely cold. I also workout in my gym on my backporch which is open to the weather but has a roof in case its raining. I am outside for 2 hours every morning. I am 61 years old and i love my routine.

  3. colin mackenzie says:

    I have just picked up sports again after a period of about 10 years doing nothing much because of work and travel (shame). All sorts of niggly muscle strains as you can imagine, that don’t heal in a week.
    Yesterday I tried cold bath -didn’t have enough ice to call it anything remotely like freezing.
    I sat calmly and patiently for about 20 mins, but reckoned I copped out from the full benefit.
    If you don’t move in the water, it is obvious that a thin layer of warmed water sits around the hairs of your skin. So, to get the full benefit, I think you have to move around while you are in the water.
    Maybe I’ll try again more seriously in a couple of days. Need to train my brain to keep out of the way, it always wants to back-slide.

  4. m b says:

    My formula — buy a tub off amazon – Rubbermaid 100gal animal water trough – $150. Fill 1/2 full. Add epsom salts, dead sea salts, citric acid (boil in water to disolve – add to tub). I keep 3 bowls of water in the freezer (add 2 to tub for each bath). I take a 12 min bath morning and night. I use a sleep monitor and have proven (to myself) that I sleep much better. I began this as an effort to reduce inflamation from my workouts (I have intense workouts and am an old man – 58). However the many side benifits are the true blessing. In a few short weeks I have become “addicted” to my morning bath. I take it a 6am. Transforming.

    Note: Because I am the only one using the bath and I throughly shower before each bath and I keep the tub covered with a sheet, I am able to go for several weeks between water changes (the salts help also).

  5. m b says:

    Additionally – you are not trying to get ice cold water. 55 degrees works well.

  6. ReviewCart says:

    Hi, and thanks for the interesting reading. I’d like to ask you if you’ve studied anything about evolutionary biology and its connection to the cold showers.

    In other words, it makes sense to me that people should take cold showers since we have evolved for millions of years without water boilers.

  7. Debbie Claydon says:

    Cryochamber has changed my life, my 16 year old whiplash injury is 80% better, my stress is less, depression is less. I’ve just started experimenting with cold baths in between as well as cheaper alternative to the Cryochambers but I’ll never give them up.

  8. Dave says:

    I stumbled across this by accident and I am know 8-10 times a day for5-10 minutes
    I suffer psychosis,obsessive behaviour,degenerative disc disease.
    I need new knees and the list goes on.
    It causes me a meditative trance state and I’ve started to actually do things. Not much but I’ve only just started,so we built a cheap indoor swimming pool for £209 and it’s like a different world ?????

  9. Ashwaq Hilal says:

    I love cold showers after a long day! Thanks to my hotchiller.

  10. Katherine Margaret Schlitt says:

    I always took cold baths during pregnancies, which greatly benefitted my varicose veins and I believed helped me have short, good deliveries. Now over 80, I decided to try it for my knees which were aching. They are much improved, and I look forward to my 10 minute cold bath every morning before exercising. It is a great time to memorize Scripture and pray for my extended family with a clear mind. I seem to be able to think more clearly and cope with everyday challenges.

  11. Greg Smithers says:

    I just now stumbled across this page, and am getting ready to give it a shot. For several years, I have struggled with a compression fracture, which has cause havoc to spread from my neck down to my feet and everywhere between. I normally tend keep my body warm, which may relate to my constant tiredness, sleeplessness, negative emotional tendencies, as well as all of my constant aches and pains. Not expecting an immediate change, but hoping that developing a daily routine of ice cold baths will eventually relieve at least some of my symptoms if not all.
    Fingers crossed, as I’m starting it right now!

  12. cherish M says:

    I’ve got to give this a try

  13. Susan george says:

    I started taking ice baths a few months back due to lower back pain. I fill the bath with cold water and add ice packs . I go into the bath after doing 20 mins low impact stretching and strengthening exercises on utube. I now take one every day that I work as it relaxes me and not only helps with back pain but improves my mental abilities. I sit in the bath for about 6 mins then I crouch on all fours and dunk my face well in the water about 4 times for as long as I can. When I get out I rub my legs and face with aqueous cream. I rub my legs and warm them up before I have a slightly warm shower. I also rinse my hair with cold water after washing it . Result is fresh looking skin soft shiny hair and believe me for a 56 year old post menopausal woman I need all the help I can get ! I can honestly say I cope much better with stress and am working and sleeping better. Other benefits include reducing that flabby stomach, positive mood enhancer and I have not had a cold since starting! Overall the best benefit for me was the mental improvement.

  14. D. S. says:

    I have been trying this lately and I like it. I don’t like the initial feeling, but I usually stay in until it doesn’t feel so cold anymore. It seems to help stave off muscle pain/aches and depression, and it helps me sleep too. I think I’ll keep it up. I do wish, however, that I could find more listed benefits for women. Most of these health lists are for men, and I’m wondering if it’ll help me with some issues I have as a woman.

  15. It’s perfect time to make some plans for the long run and it is time to be happy.

    I have read this post and if I could I wish to counsel you few interesting issues or
    suggestions. Maybe you could write subsequent articles relating to this article.
    I wish to read more issues about it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *