Benefits of Ice Baths

The Stoics speak of the importance of doing something every day that’s hard. Karate masters of old trained kata under frozen waterfall. Lacking a nearby waterfall and knowing the benefits of an ice bath, I’ve now taken the plunge. Literally. I committed to an ice bath daily for 20 days.

There are many reasons to ice bath. Mine was initially, simply muscle recovery. I like to train hard. To train hard, you need to optimize your recovery.

Why - Reasons to Ice Bath

  1. Body
    • strengthens. Accelerates healing of sore muscles. Flushes lactic acid.
    • Reduces Inflammation.
    • There is some evidence that ice plunge pre-workout boosts testosterone.
    • Note: do not plunge immediately after lifting. This decreases your gains.
  2. Mind - Sharpens the mind. Wide awake, super alert post-plunge. No need for coffee.
  3. Spirit - Life can be hard. The Stoics espouse doing something difficult every day, so that when life throws you a challenge, you have the confidence to tackle it, knowing you handle challenges every day.


When I am practicing Ice Baths, my goal is 3-5 minutes, or as long as I can last. The water temperature is whatever Mother Nature and our kind Canadian winter has in store. Through this winter, on average it's been between 2 C to -3 C.

When I ran my first 20 Day Challenge, back in Dec '22, I committed to plunging first thing in the morning, unless it was a long-run day, in which case I'd plunge post-run. On day 10, I modified the routine to add a short 20 min workout post-plunge after listening to an interview with David Goggins. This change pushed the plunge to post-dog-walk, which the puppy prefers. This also makes getting out of bed far easier in the morning.

Results to date

Years in, I've far exceeded my initial 20 day challenge. I now go through cycles of Ice Bathing. When I am doing it, I LOVE the feeling I have when I first exit the barrel. I am the king of the world! Indomitable spirit! The benefit of muscle recovery, which was my initial goal, is unquestionably positive. The challenge is, restarting the cycle after I've fallen off the wagon. Every climb into the barrel is hard, but the initial set-up and the first time is always the hardest.


  • Andrew Huberman - Using deliberate cold exposure for health and performance
  • Joe Rogan & David Goggins on cold plunge benefits before workout.
  • 1991 Japanese Study - Effects of Physical Exercise and Cold Stimulation on Serum Testosterone Level in men, Hyogo College of Medicine. "In the martial arts such as JUDO and KARATE, for muscular development, physical training has usually been done in a river in the winter to expose the feet to cold water." With this posit, the researchers went on study if there was benefit to this cold exposure. What they found was yes! Cold water stimulation pre-workout boosted testosterone.


  • 55 gallon barrel off Kajiji - $20
  • water
  • Canadian winter
  • sprinkling of Epsom salt - to lower the freezing point of the tub.
  • stopwatch app on phone - I can't use my watch, since it's submerged.
  • note: to prevent total freezing, break & stir the ice morning & night. When ice gets too thick around the barrel bore for you to submerge, scoop out a bucket & top-up with hot water. Monitor the bore of the barrel for sharp ice build-up. It's a sign you want to temporarily raise the barrel temperature
  • Pipe Heating Cable affixed to the outside of the barrel to reduce ice build-up. Only required when temperatures remain well below 0 C. Cable is insulated on outside with a wrap of puzzle mats
  • hammer: to pound outside of barrel, to break up ice when it gets really thick


The Ice Plunge is truly a Love-Hate relationship. It sucks preparing to climb in. Nearly every morning I have to negotiate with myself saying "I only need to do 20 seconds, and that anyone can do 20 seconds." Once I'm in though, I'm always doing 3-5 min now. It feels surprisingly good, even submerged. When I exit, I am king of the world! I love it! It is truly exhilarating. Body feels great. Muscles are strong. Mind is very sharp.