Plunging Feet First Into The Cold
I first became aware of the benefits of cold water therapy in 2019 when scientific data was showing the substantial benefits this seems to have on the body. Particularly with regards to muscle and tissue recovery. As well as the fat burning potential once the shiver response is initiated.
These things were of great interest to me. Although my biggest interest was to see if I could actually do this. To overcome a fear and increase my body’s resilience.
in 2020 after reading about the the achievements of Wim Hof in Scott Carney’s book What Doesn’t Kill Us, I embarked very briefly on a period of cold showers. As the winter months hit, the cold showers stopped. And I continued on my comfortable way through life using heated water, whilst continuing to listen and learn about the incredible benefits cold exposure can bring.
I’ve been visiting Float Co on and off for 3 years to use their magnesium salt floatation tanks. Something else I will write about later and well worth your time to try.
This year they installed an Ice Barrell for cold water therapy. So with quite a lot of trepidation, three weeks ago I went for my first plunge.
The First Plunge
With the water set at 6 degrees Celsius, I prepared my mind, readied for some controlled breathing, and lowered myself in down to my neck.
Sometimes in life you experience something you will never forget. And this was for sure a moment I will never forget.
The body is a remarkable machine. The more I work on my body, the more it talks to me and tells me what to do.
From the very second I stepped in, my body told me immediately to “get the f*@# out of there!! JUST GET OUT!!!”
My target was to breathe through it and ignore everything. Just sit there, because the water can’t push me out. Only I can push myself out.
Eyes closed I tried to breathe slowly like I learned. But I could not. My breathing sped up to uncontrollable levels, with my eyes closed I tried with all my might to focus and breathe and stay there.
But cramps started, and I had no choice but to get out in a ball of confusion and awe.
My total time? It felt like an eternity. But my total time for my first ever plunge was an incredibly amusing 20 seconds!
How I Use The Ice Barrel
Float Co. allow a 30 minute session with the Ice Barrel. So I decided to break the sessions into 6 sets/plunges, to see how much total time I could build up. This would give me a measurable component to the challenge.
My First Three Sessions
The human body is a remarkably adaptable machine, as you will see from my results below. Each plunge session was one week apart. Below I will layout the 6 sets in seconds to show how fast progress was made:
20 / 30 / 30 / 45 / 60 / 90 = 4mins 35secs
Shiver response kicked in during the last set
30 / 30 / 60 / 60 / 90 / 120 = 6mins 30secs
Shiver response kicked in during the 5th set
60 / 60 / 90 / 90 / 120 / 180 = 10mins
Shiver response kicked in during the 4th set
The Shiver Response
The reason I mention the shiver response is because this is an integral part of the health benefits. In particular, the fat burning response with regards to white and brown fat.
Please read this article which explains clearly how this pathway works, and why getting cold actually burns fat: Can Shivering Help Burn Fat
My own anecdotal response after just three sessions is quite visible to see. It’s always difficult with me to tell which levers are pulling on which responses. Particularly as I have decided to embark on a quick 2-3 week mini-cut before my birthday, as well as lot of ab training. But nevertheless I believe the cold water therapy has had something quite impactful to do with the disappearance of my love handles.
According to Dr. Andrew Huberman in this podcast, he explains in scientific clarity exactly how cold exposure works, and why it is something we should all add into our lives.
Within his deep dive is an ideal target number, which actually works out at approximately 11 minutes of cold exposure per week.
Ideally this could be broken up into 2 to 3 sessions. But as this is quite difficult due to time and access, I am targetting up to 12 minutes in one weekly session. Bearing in mind I made it to 10 minutes on my 3rd plunge, this is more than achievable and something I intend to hit on plunge number 4.
After finally finding a cold water therapy method, I have booked myself in for 10 consecutive weeks. And I will report back after these 10 sessions have completed.
In the meantime, as we begin to move into the slightly cooler months, I will continue cold showers in the morning, with a view to keep them going throughout the winter.