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How Often Should You Cold Plunge? A Definitive Guide

Every day, more and more people discover the wide-spanning benefits of cold exposure.

One of the first questions they ask is: How often should I cold plunge?

It’s an important question, as there are benefits associated with plunging for the right amount of time and risks inherent in going about it wrong.

In this post, you’ll learn the optimal amounts of time to expose yourself to cold. With this info, you’ll be able to extract maximum benefit from the practice while avoiding unnecessary injury.

Let’s dive in.

How often should you cold plunge?

When beginning the practice, it’s recommended that you cold plunge 1-2 times/week for a total of 11 minutes.

This amount of exposure allows you to reap the health-promoting benefits while allowing your system to slowly acclimate to the cold.

You can cold plunge more often than this. Many people practice cold exposure daily for various amounts of time. Because people’s bodies react differently, there is no hard and fast rule.

But more cold exposure isn’t necessarily better, especially when you’re just starting out. There are certain risks that come from pushing your body’s limits too far with cold.

Some people who push past their body’s limits have experienced chronic nervous system issues as a result. Too many cold exposure-induced cortisol spikes will stress the adrenals and kidneys, which may lead to fatigue, listlessness, and, occasionally, chronic illness.

So, how often is too often? Some people do fine plunging every day for 20+ minutes, while others face issues plunging just three times a week for 5 minutes each. There is no definitive answer, as it all depends on individual tolerance levels.

How long should you cold plunge for?

A good rule of thumb is to cold plunge 2-4 times a week for 1-5 minutes each session. This keeps roughly in line with the 11-minute-per-week recommendation. I typically advise my clients to start with 3-minute sessions, 4 days a week.

While this protocol provides the minimum duration to achieve the benefits of cold plunging, you can do longer sessions if desired. I personally cold plunge for 7 minutes five days a week, and know people that plunge daily for longer.

But note that there are diminishing returns with the health-promoting benefits the longer you sit in the water. It’s the initial exposure to the cold in the first couple of minutes that provides the greatest benefits.

Can you cold plunge every day?

Yes, you can cold plunge every day. While daily cold plunging is probably more than most people want to do, there are many who swear by it. Daily ice baths are a common practice for professional athletes and devoted biohackers.

However, there hasn’t been enough research yet on daily cold exposure to recommend the practice. I know numerous people who cold plunge daily without putting their health at risk, but it depends on the person. Daily cold exposure can be too much for some people to handle comfortably.

Can you cold plunge twice or more a day?

Yes, many people are able to safely and comfortably cold plunge two or more times in a day.

You will typically see people do this when recovering from highly intense workouts, where morning and evening ice baths/cold plunges provide recovery aid for high-level endurance training.

While you can plunge multiple times a day, it’s important to assess for any noticeable side effects when attempting such a routine.

How many cold plunges can you take per week?

There is no hard and fast rule about how many cold plunges you can take per week. Most people who practice cold plunging will plunge for cold exposure 4-8 times a week, either recreationally or to aid in physical training.

You can exceed these numbers. If you choose to cold plunge multiple times a day, pay attention to signs that your body is telling you it’s too much. Heed these warnings by slowing down.

If you feel good, keep going. Just remember that as you get a tolerance to the effect of the cold you’ll have to continuously increase the stimulus for the same reward.

In the long run, doing less frequent cold exposure can provide just as good of results due to these diminishing returns.

What are signs that you’re cold plunging too much?

If you’re taking too many cold plunges or sitting too long, you can mess up your nervous system equilibrium. This can cause stress issues which wreak havoc on your equilibrium and ability to sleep well.

You can also experience diminished physical capabilities when you cold plunge too long or too often. Too much cold is taxing on the body.

In Conclusion

Remember to start out slowly with cold water therapy, just like you would with exercise or weight lifting. Starting slowly helps establish strong habits that stand the test of time.

You don’t want to go all in right away and burn yourself out from the practice. Slow and steady wins the race, and consistency is the primary factor to getting the most health benefits from cold plunging.

If you do want to plunge daily and/or for long sessions, then go for it. People like Wim Hof acclimate to tons of cold exposure. Just watch your physiological response and take care to not overdo it.Still, take rest days, and avoid cold plunging when you are sick or otherwise run down.

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