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How Long to Cold Plunge: Beginner & Intermediate Guide

how long should you cold plunge?

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Cold plunging or ice baths have become quite popular in recent years. It is not surprising considering the many benefits of cold water therapy. Athletes have been treating sore muscles for years this way, and many gyms have cold tubs that allow people to take care of themselves after hard workouts. Now, people have started doing this at home because they want to use the advantages to the fullest. 

You probably want to try cold plunging since you have come across this article. However, you should familiarize yourself with certain points before preparing your ice bath. Now, let’s dive into the basics, so your first attempt is successful.

is cold plunging good for you?

How Long to Cold Plunge?

Before you begin your cold plunge, you must understand that cold showers and ice baths are similar but not the same. In other words, showers have different effects on the body, so you will feel slightly different when you get into cold water in a tub. I am not saying that you have done the cold showers in vain, but that you should not expect that you will immediately feel comfortable in a bath.

When you are a beginner, the minimum time for a cold plunge you should consider is 3 minutes. The reason why I suggest 5 minutes of cold showers is to create a balance. In the very beginning, you may want to try the in-and-out method again. But, make sure you try to withstand more time each try. The point of cold water immersion is to have your body in the tub long enough to experience the benefits.  

So, your goal is to endure 3 minutes of cold plunging. Once you reach the 3rd minute, you should expect your body to shiver from the cold water. However, when you get the shivering, you should also expect the cold water immersion advantages to kick in. In other words, it is the point when fat-burning and improved blood sugar regulation take over, and you begin to get results from your cold plunge tub.     

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How to Increase Time Spent in Cold Plunge Over Time

Withholding 3 minutes in an ice bath is a massive success for a rookie. However, you should plan to increase the number of minutes each time you do cold plunging. You must reach at least 10+ minutes in the tub to get the most out of cold therapy.

That is, after 4-6 weeks, you are expected to do cold plunging for longer than 10 minutes. Even though it might seem challenging, you should consider that your entire body is prepared for such a challenge. You do not do the whole process of preparation for nothing!

Moreover, you can always go for lower temperatures of the water. More precisely, when you begin withstanding more than 10 minutes in the bath, you can add more ice and reduce the time by 2 or 3 minutes. It is a protocol you should follow for the best results!

cold plunge for long time (2 minutes)

Start Cool, Then Crank It Colder

When it comes to trying a cold plunge as a rookie, it is essential that you do not do it abruptly. That is, cold water immersion cannot be done in extremely cold water the very first time. Doing this might discourage you from trying again and developing it in a routine. You cannot feel the benefits of cold water therapy if you only do it once. Therefore, gradual adjustment of cold temperatures is the key! 

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Nonetheless, if you do not have a tub, you do not need to invest in one immediately. Namely, you can begin by taking cold showers for a month. It is a helpful way to get your body used to cold water and see how it reacts. While our bodies are pretty resistant, they might not process a sudden change well. So, it is essential to give your body time to adjust. And 30 days are enough to adapt it to cold water exposure. 

mental focus while cold plunging, how long to cold plunge

If you still struggle with a cold shower, some methods will make it easier. For instance, in the first 10 days, you can start with only 60 seconds of cold exposure in the shower. However, if you still feel uncomfortable, get under cold water for 20 seconds, then out for 10. You can repeat that 3 times, and you will complete one full minute. This is better than giving up altogether!

Once you reach 10 days of 1-minute cold showers, you can increase the number of minutes. Again, you can still make adjustments and repetitions if you cannot handle 2 or 3 full minutes under cold water. Finally, in the last 10 days, you should be able to withstand 5-minute cold showers without any issues. And you will be surprised how far you have come! 

what temp cold plunge should i start at

What Temperature Range Should You Start At?

Determining the right temperature might seem like the trickiest part of the cold plunging process. Every body reacts differently to cold temperatures, so it is never easy to establish the exact number of degrees. Therefore, the solution lies in our ability to listen to our body and understand the signs that it gives us. 

Cold immersion begins when we feel uncomfortable in the established water temperature. Nonetheless, that discomfort encourages us to make this a habit out of it because we are aware of the benefits. This being said, you should consider starting with a temperature that makes you uncomfortable but not to extremes because you do not want to give up. 

In general, cold water immersion therapy is always between 38°F to 45°F, but you can also go for 45°F and 52°F. The colder the water, the better the outcome. However, you can also go for the average temperature range so long you stay longer in the tub! 

what do I wear while cold plunging? how long to cold plunge

What Do I Wear When Cold Plunging?

Since you are a beginner, you should not get into ice-cold water in your underwear only. Remember that you are still adjusting to the whole cold immersion process, so considering some clothing would be wise. I recommend wearing shorts and a shirt with long sleeves.

You need something to regulate the cold temperature and prevent hypothermia. Moreover, wearing appropriate garments would protect your skin – the largest body organ! 

Also, do not forget to prepare a warm towel and after-bath clothes you will get into once you get out of the ice bath. Getting from cold into heat is how the process thrives and brings you the results you expect. So, make sure you have everything ready before starting the cold plunge.

Tips for Getting Started With Cold Water Therapy

Cold plunging requires work, so do not expect to start doing it properly immediately. Some ways will help you prepare so you do not give up or be inconsistent. Therefore, I have a few tips you can use as your guidelines to keep you on the right track. 

  • Start with a cold shower preparation

I mentioned the concept of a cold shower earlier, so I believe you understand that it is essential to the process of cold water therapy. Also, there are variations of the preparation with a cold shower, so you can choose whatever suits you best. Just make sure you do not rush yourself into anything! It is not a competition, so it is okay to take your time. 

  • Have a cold bath before an iced one 

A cold bath will help your entire body adjust to cold water temperatures. You do not have to go with ice immediately, so take one step at a time. This is a sure way towards progress, so embrace it! Even if your cold plunging process is slow, you will get there. 

  • Wash your face in cold water 

Another way to prepare your body for cold immersion is by putting your face in cold water. You might believe that this might not be really helpful, but your body gets the information of what cold temperatures feel like. It is a fantastic practice and quite useful one!

  • Try cold water swimming 

Swimming in a cold sea or lake can help you adjust your body to cold water temperature. However, this activity also requires preparation. That is, you should start by swimming during the summer months when the weather is hot, and the water is warm. Then, gradually begin going for a swim as the sea or the lake gets colder. This will help your body learn to withstand lower water temperatures.  

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cold plunge tips and tricks

Tips to Make Your First Cold Plunge or Ice Bath a Success

If you have done your cold shower preparation, you are halfway to a successful first cold plunge. Adjusting your body to cold water plays a significant role in the success of your cold water therapy, so make sure you do it. Once that is out of the way, you can slowly get ready for your first ice bath. There are several things you can do to ensure that you have set up everything right. 

  • Try breathing exercises 

Deep breathing can help you relax before you begin your cold plunge. Take time with your deep breathing practices because they can help you significantly. I recommend doing 3 rounds of 30 breaths while including a hold in between your rounds. If you have never tried breathing exercises, now you will see their genuine power. 

  • Ensure that you have the appropriate setup

Successful cold plunges encompass a good setup. You do not want to begin your cold water therapy and realize you are missing something, and you cannot go on. More precisely, ensure you have ice, a thermometer, a timer, a towel, and clothing for afterward. These are essential elements that will give you a good head start. 

  • Be mindful of your plunge 

Cold plunges require mindfulness. So, once you get into cold water, set a timer and slowly exhale as you set yourself in the tub. Remember to breathe as you have practiced before getting into the bath. Try to stay calm and focused and be present with your whole body. And just like that, your timer will go off, meaning you have done it! 

Wim Hof Method

Wim Hof method is founded by a lifelong yogi who has discovered the benefits of cold water immersion. Hof has based his approach on three mighty pillars – breathing, cold therapy, and commitment.

He has also pointed out the scientific evidence of the benefits of cold plunges, such as a stronger immune system, positive mental attitude, and calmer mind. Namely, he has proven that conscious breathing, positive thoughts, and a strong will can lead you to better health results. 

You can incorporate the Wim Hof method in various ways and according to your needs. It involves a certain set of activities that are significantly simple but with tremendous results. That is, you can practice mindful breathing for increased energy and reduced stress levels. Moreover, cold therapy can help you with muscle soreness after an intense workout, chronic pain, better sleep, etc.

However, you need to take into consideration that this method requires commitment. Hof’s third pillar is a strong willingness to achieve results. Therefore, serious dedication and patience are a must when it comes to using the method.

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how long to cold plunge before you start to see the risks take over

Cold Plunge Risks

Cold plunges and ice baths are useful, but they also carry certain risks you need to be aware of. Before you explore the benefits of cold therapy, you need to be informed of everything that comes with it. Although cold water therapy is a safe experience for a healthy individual, it is still important to be familiar with its risks. 

  • Drowning

While the chances of this happening are slim to none, it is still possible. Even though there are no cases recorded of drowning during cold plunges, you need to remember that alcohol and drinking can increase the chances of drowning during ice baths. 

  • Hypothermia 

Hypothermia can occur when body temperature gets extremely low. However, if you prepare for your cold plunges correctly, you can avoid this risk. 

  • Cardiac arrest

The abrupt shock to the body produced by cold water immersion can lead to constriction of the blood vessels and increased heart rate. That is why people with heart issues should be extra careful with cold plunges. 

  • Hyperventilation 

Cold water temperatures and ice baths can cause stress to the respiratory system. The quick change of temperatures might be too much for someone and lead to hyperventilation. People with respiratory problems, such as asthma, need to be extremely careful with cold water therapy. 

You can find more detailed information on cold water immersion risks here.

Preparing Your Mind and Body for Cold Plunging

You must remember that cold water immersion means significantly changing your whole body. Getting into cold plunge tubs is quite a shock, so you need to be mindful before starting. And the best way to do this is by calming your nervous system. The most effective way to achieve this is to focus on your breathing. As you enter the bath, try to follow these steps: 

  • Step 1: Start with deep breaths to clear your mind. Make sure to make the exhales longer than the inhales. Do this for 2-3 minutes.  

  • Step 2: Do several rounds of 10 breaths in which you will inhale through your nostrils and exhale while humming. 

  • Step 3: Get into the tub and do 30 breath cycles underwater.  

Cold Plunge Mental Benefits

It is scientifically proven that ice baths can benefit brain health. A cold water therapy routine is closely related to mental health since extreme cold conditions awaken the nervous system. In other words, once your body gets in touch with significantly low water temperatures, it becomes more present and focused. 

Moreover, ice baths cause the release of adrenaline and norepinephrine, making them excellent alternatives to medicine. People who strive for natural ways to promote health and well-being find cold water therapy fascinatingly beneficial. It has shown stunning results in reducing stress and increasing energy levels. These two are some of the most common issues of the worldwide population and must be addressed appropriately. 

Furthermore, cold exposure has shown effects in healing depression and anxiety. Since the cold shock of ice baths causes the production of norepinephrine, it can greatly impact a person’s mood and overall mental state. Although you might need to consult a doctor before resorting to cold plunges, you might sure consider it.  

how long to cold plunge

What Are The Benefits of a Cold Plunge?

Increases Energy Levels

Cold water immersion has not become famous just because it is an alternative healing method. The benefits of cold plunging go beyond handling muscle soreness and muscle recovery. Namely, it addresses the low energy levels many people struggle with. 

Since cold exposure activates the nervous system, it has the power to increase your energy levels. It makes you more focused and motivated to be more productive during the day.

Speeds Up Physical Recovery

The benefits of cold water exposure include rapid recovery. Cold plunge tubs can reduce inflammation and soreness of the muscles, especially after intense exercise. 

Improves Your Sleep

Although cold exposure makes the body more energized and productive, it also relaxes. When your body calms and soothes, it allows you to sleep better at night. 

In addition, it can improve your sleep-wake cycle and allow you to sleep calmly at night. In other words, cold plunges can ensure that you sleep deeply and your sleeping schedule is not interrupted in any way.

On Grapplers graveyard we have converted the benefits that you can get from cold plunge here.

Who Should Stay Away

According to experts, therapy with ice water can be beneficial and safe for individuals who are healthy and well-prepared. However, the benefits of cold plunging might not have the same effect on people with health issues. 

So, many professionals and medical experts advise that certain groups of people stay away from cold water therapy. These groups include those with heart diseases and issues, hypertension, and pregnant women.    

Helps You Better Manage Stress

Many people are subjected to severe stress amounts daily. Managing stress can be difficult and overbearing, but cold exposure can help you tackle your stress levels. Since this therapy can improve your mood and activate hormones related to emotional states, it automatically enables you to manage stress. After a cold bath, you become calmer, more relaxed, and stress-free.   

Boosts Your Mood

Ice baths do wonders when it comes to producing endorphins – natural chemicals that affect your mood and happiness. In addition, cold plunging activates your sympathetic nervous system, making you more alert and aware of your surroundings. This improvement in your mental state affects your mood directly.  

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how long to cold plunge

Common Questions & Answers About Cold Plunging

What does a 2-minute cold plunge do?

A 2-minute plunge is best for handling muscle soreness after an intense workout. However, to experience the higher benefits of this notion, you should consider a cold plunge that is at least 4 minutes long. 

How long does it take for a cold plunge to work?

To experience the benefits of cold plunging, you should consider staying in the tub for 4-5 minutes. For best results, you should try to withstand at least 10 minutes. 

Is it OK to cold plunge every day?

Daily cold plunging is okay as long as you have gained solid experience in the activity. For beginners, it is recommended to start with three sessions a week. 

What temp is best for a cold plunge?

For a beginner, a temperature between 38°F to 45°F is enough. However,  more advanced individuals tend to go lower, i.e., 50°F to 59°F. 

Can you cold plunge for too long?

Cold exposure can restart your body and enhance your senses. Nonetheless, staying too long in cold water imposes risks on your health. 

How often should you do a cold plunge?

According to research, 11 minutes a week are enough for cold plunging. However, many individuals tend to do their ice baths on a daily basis. 

Is a 20-minute ice bath good?

The ideal length for ice baths is between 11-15 minutes. While some individuals tend to stay in a tub for 20 minutes, you should not try it if you are a beginner. 

How many times a week should I cold plunge?

Some people tend to do their cold plunging every day, while others find 3 times a week enough. The best way to determine your cold exposure frequency is to listen to your body and see its reactions to cold water immersion.

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