Cold Water Therapy and Experimentation Recommences

As I’ve mentioned in other posts, we moved a year and a half ago where my gym has a spa sized-cold plunge they keep chilled to around 40-45F for the guys. I experimented with it for years, but after a few months with the drive & downtown parking, I gave it up in favor of a local swim & racket club. The pools are about 80.

But now I have a cold plunge, again, as of this morning.

IMG 0895
Big Tub

It’s a livestock watering trough made by Rubbermade. It’s 150 gallons, a bit shorter but wider than another 150 gal trough I’d been looking at for $150. Got this at a local feed & supply place and considering shipping cost, came out about a wash at $200.

Then I went and got a pool thermometer, and two 5-gallon buckets from Home Depot, now sitting in my box freezer 4/5ths filled with water.

The tap water came out at 50 degrees exactly and when full, it was 51, which I attribute to the temp of the plastic raising the water temp a bit.

IMG 0891
50 degrees, as it’s filling

And then I couldn’t wait any longer, and I got right in.

IMG 0893

It was funny because, in just stepping in I was filled with horror. This isn’t going to be fun! But I just sunk right down, the trough overflowed to the point where I could sit, feet exactly touching the other side, and the water comes up to my chin. It’s like this was designed to my own bodily specs.

Within 30 seconds I was totally fine and by 1 minute, actually warm and didn’t feel cold until well after 10 minutes. Slight quivers began at the 20-minute mark.

IMG 0894
Let’s Call It 26 Even

I got out when I went to check my time, took my hands out of the water to go for my iPhone and noticed diminished motor control.

But all in all, a cinch, very uplifting. A few observations. This was far easier than the cold plunge at my gym. Two reasons, other than that it was colder, I think. First, it was always my practice to completely submerge initially, getting my head wet & cold. Didn’t do that here. Head stayed dry. Second, the gym had a couple of circulating jets, so water is moving across your body. I found that to the extent I remained motionless in this tub, I was remarkably unperturbed. You’re still losing lots of heat, it’s just at a slightly lower rate because you have a “boundary layer” near your skin. You can verify this by moving around and the water feels very cold, suddenly.

Alright, so how many calories did I burn in 26 minutes, you thermodynamicists? When I got out, I stirred up the water and the thermometer read about 52.3 degrees, so perhaps I raised the temp of the water 1.3 degrees. Now, I weigh 180, the human head is about 8% of mass, so let’s say I was displacing 166 pounds of water, or 20 gallons. So, 150 gallon tank filled to the brim, I raised 130 gallons by 1.3 degrees F.

Next time I’ll use a digital thermometer to get a more exact idea of the temperature increase.

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  2. Julian Corwin on April 9, 2012 at 16:29

    I’d say around 360 calories

    • Julian Corwin on April 9, 2012 at 16:32

      Though I suppose when you sat in you had the previously untouched plastic now touching the water, so probably less.

    • nullpaleo on April 10, 2012 at 08:09

      heating 493 kg (130 gal = 493 litres) of water by 1,3° takes about 631 Cal (kcal)

      • bob r on April 10, 2012 at 17:28

        You appear to be using a 1.3 Celsius temperature change but the thermometer appears to be marked in Fahrenheit. And 50°C might be just a bit too hot.

        Using 130 gal * 8.3 lbs/gal * 1.3°F * 1 BTU/(lb F°) / 3.97 kcal/BTU gives about 353 kcal. Pretty much in line with Julian above.

      • Richard Nikoley on April 10, 2012 at 18:12

        The temp gauge is both but I’m using all F numbers. In spite of living in Japan and France for a total of 8 years and getting adapted to KM while driving so I don’t have to think about it, and adapting to currency so I don’t have to thnk about what it is in dollars, I love the English system of measures.

        I just do, except for that “stone” bullshit.

      • nullpaleo on April 11, 2012 at 04:36

        you are correct, my mistake

  3. Rob on April 9, 2012 at 16:37

    Looks like a good set up, I’ll occasionally swim in the English Channel during the winter months which is about 150 meters from my front door. It’s always a bit nippy but I’m not sure the temperatures get to that level even during the winter months. It’s a tradition on the day after christmas for people to sprint into the sea, last year about 70 people did it at low tide!

  4. Jeff on April 9, 2012 at 16:41

    Good job on measuring the rise in water temp. You can’t make a judgement based on wetted area, for example, because the first thing your body does when it gets into cold water is reduce blood flow to the skin.

    • Richard Nikoley on April 9, 2012 at 16:50

      Next time I’ll haul out the digital meat thermometer to get a precise reading.

      • LeonRover on April 11, 2012 at 00:51

        I trust you will neglect to thrust the digital meat thermometer deep into any remaining visceral fat, and merely hang it by a nylon lace in the water!

        BTW did you get a shivering response while experiencing evaporative cooling on exiting the tank?

        It is not clear from Jack’s description whether he deliberately uses this at end of a session – he merely notes that it is difficult to walk from a lake or pool to his house.


        PS I am concious of the shivering response: there was once an occasion when I KNEW I would survive as wind speed was low and continued to shiver.

      • Richard Nikoley on April 11, 2012 at 14:32

        No. In the current 60s with a slight breeze, takes about 10 minutes for shivering to set it.

        When I get out I feel warmer than when I was in.

  5. Dexter on April 9, 2012 at 16:46

    Some people have your plastic molded stock tank and then purchase an aquarium chiller adequate to cool the water to a range of 37F to 60F depending on the need for the fish. Craigslist may have some used. New one to do 100 gal tank is about $700 with a half horse recirculating pump.

    I have an email from a person that did this setup.

    • Richard Nikoley on April 9, 2012 at 16:53

      Yea, Dexter, I’m a salt water aquarium guy from way back. Don’t have a tank now, but I’ve had a 40 gal, 50 gal, and a coffin sized 180 gal tank. The small ones stay cool enough but the big one would get hot owing to the big ass pump & motor for primary circulation. So, yea, I know all about chillers.

      For now, I’m just interested in keying the water in some 50-55 deg range and don’t sweat it. We’ll see how the frozen 5-gal buckets of water do for now.

  6. Uncephalized on April 9, 2012 at 17:29

    Despite my anti-Kruse sentiments, I am intrigued by cold adaptation so I’ll be interested to follow your progress with this stuff, Richard. So far I’ve just been standing in shower water turned all the way to cold once or twice a day–but your cold plunge sounds really nice, especially facing an imminent Phoenix summer. I already wanted to build myself a sauna–maybe I’ll do a sauna and a cold plunge combo.

    The only thing I wonder is if forcing cold adaptation during the summer months will be counterproductive to heat adaptation in an environment where not being heat-adapted can make one very miserable indeed, with temperatures exceeding 110F on the “cool” days most of the season. We’ll see.

    • Efren on April 9, 2012 at 18:40

      Don’t worry. I’m sure you’ll find other things to hate Kruse for.

      • Uncephalized on April 10, 2012 at 08:36

        No hate, just bewildered bemusement and some disagreement.

    • Leigh on April 10, 2012 at 16:03

      Hof is (clearly) cold-adapted, and decided to run a marathon in the desert. No problem. I don’t think cold adaptation interferes with heat tolerance, based on his, and my, experiments.

      I think it must improve your internal thermostat all around.

    • Mike on July 14, 2013 at 15:58

      On Kruse’s site someone asked if being cold adapted makes it harder to deal with heat – Kruse answered that it made you more tolerant to extremes all around… But after everything I’ve read about Kruse I don’t know which parts to believe anymore :P

  7. jim on April 9, 2012 at 17:29

    Cool stuff

  8. rob on April 9, 2012 at 17:32

    What was the ambient temperature? You warmed up the water but so did the atmosphere. Say it was 75 degrees outside .. given the volume and temp of the water, how much would it have warmed in 26 minutes if you were not in the cattle trough? I think you have to take into account surface area too. Also wind velocity?

    I think you have to first figure out what the temp of the water would have been had you NOT entered the trough, then compare it with the temp with you IN the trough.

    • rob on April 9, 2012 at 17:35

      Guess you could do that by filling it with the tap water, waiting 26 minutes, taking the temp, then emptying the trough, wait until the plastic of the trough returns to ambient temperature, refill the trough, immerse yourself for 26 minutes, then take the temp again.

    • Richard Nikoley on April 9, 2012 at 17:39

      I don’t think it needs to be that complex over 26 minutes, rob.

      The temp of the tub had already homogenesized by the time I got in and accounted for that~1deg rise. At that point the ambient air (about 65-70, no wind) was only going to affect the surface. I’m 98 deg, submerged, and have a hugely larger surface area in contact with the water than the mere surface, some of which I was displacing.

      • Haystacks Calhoun on April 9, 2012 at 18:04

        “[I] have a hugely larger surface area in contact with the water . . .”

        True dat!

  9. austinsnotweird on April 9, 2012 at 17:38

    There are a multitude of factors you didn’t account for, I’m afraid. But, hey — I’m not about to jump in a tank of cold water to do it myself. Interesting read.

    • Richard Nikoley on April 9, 2012 at 17:43

      “There are a multitude of factors you didn’t account for, I’m afraid.”

      I’m afraid that they’re irrelevant for a short term 26 minutes.

      Let’s agree that over time, the water is going to represent an average of the ambient temperature over time. Fucking duh! But not in 26 minutes right after the fucker is filled. Shit, not even in a day. Given the insulating properties of this sort of plastic (not super dense), it will take days and days for things to equalize.

      Get I t?

      • Suhenna on April 10, 2012 at 03:24

        All this minutia is making my head spin. The fact that you did this, Richard is amazing. I have a little ducky I bought from amazon that floats in the water and gives the temp. It shouldn’t have to be rocket science. Dr K said that if we are trying to heal then YES indeed cold adapt even in the summer.

        I am new to your blog and wish you all the best. I’m looking forward to reading your blog in the future with your progess to better health. You will be a super star for many to follwo.

    • Mike on April 9, 2012 at 19:37

      I have a small above ground pool and it takes MONTHS to warm up in the Sacramento summer heat to get to a bearable temp.

  10. Uwe on April 9, 2012 at 18:36

    Great job, Richard. Guess I need to do this for Tough Mudder. Lot of nitpickers in the comments.

    • Heather on April 10, 2012 at 00:12

      You’re doing Tough Mudder?! Which one? I was tempted to do the one in Scotland myself, but think I’ll have to wait until next year now.

  11. Bill Strahan on April 9, 2012 at 18:56


    A tip to consider: Get a snack size Ziploc bag and throw the iphone (without a cover on) into it. Suck the air out and seal it. Now you can read blogs or books while in the tub, and if you drop it, no big deal! Touchscreen works fine through the ziploc.

    • Richard Nikoley on April 9, 2012 at 21:52

      Good tip, Bill. Yea, I’m smart enough to never hold it over the water.

      • Suhenna on April 10, 2012 at 03:27

        Here is what I bought Richard.

        And here is the little ducky.

        You dare to be a kid again. ; )

  12. Marc on April 9, 2012 at 19:02

    When i did Tough Mudder the Chernobyl jacuzzi was water and ice cubes…my guesstimate was that temp was around 40 something degrees. It was bloody cold and just before I leapt out of the dumpster I had a feeling realization that hypothermia is real. It was a good moment and almost 4 months later still reset my adaptability to cold. I settle for cold showers… They make me feel good ……


    • Kent Cowgill on April 10, 2012 at 05:56

      I prepared for the Chernobyl Jacuzzi by jumping in Lake Michigan in late October/Early November. No clue about the temperature but it was damn cold. The Tough Mudder I did was in Indiana, middle of November. I think I was OK after the Chernobyl Jacuzzi, but it was cold (45f or so) and windy out. Shortly before “walk the plank” was a “creek crusade”, somewhere between half a mile and a mile of wading through a freezing creek. I had to bail after a total of about 4 miles or so due to hypothermia setting in :(

  13. dr. gabriella kadar on April 9, 2012 at 19:26

    I don’t heat my bedroom and keep the windows and balcony door open almost all the time. Except tonight. Too much wind and it interrupted sleep last night. I drive with the window open, no heating. Walk outside without too much winter clothing. Keep windows open at the office. Put blankets on the patients.

    Yeah, I’m cold adapted and it’s a terrible thing when I go into someplace that has the heat turned on. I could just suffocate. People don”t realize what bad things they are doing to themselves. Today I went to the vet’s clinic for something. I told the tech that I have to wait outside on the sidewalk while she asked the doctor my question. Literally, after 5 minutes in there, my forehead beaded up. Everyone else looked like they were comfortable. Not yet an Inuit. Probably never get that far.

    Humid summer heat is a misery to endure. Then into a cold bath to recondition.

    Coming home from two weeks autumn camping was always a shock to the system.

    Cold is fine. Cold plus breeze is fine. But cold plus gale force winds? Too much

  14. Bert on April 9, 2012 at 19:43

    Hi Rich, just to share. I live in Asia, year round 30ish C. Took a vacation in Japan a couple of weeks back for a week with temps 4 – 15deg in different cities. Coupled with daily 4 – 5 hrs of walking, with a light wind-breaker on (shivering all the way) and 20%+ carbs. No ramen/soba/udon/tonkatsu/mochi/takoyaki/… the list goes on *SOB* (but I did binge on sushi at Tsukiji :) )

    Result was a 2kg loss, all from fat it seems (I keep track almost daily). This 2kg was from a stable (plateaued) weight for the past 2 – 3 months.

    • garymar on April 10, 2012 at 01:25

      No cold Chinese noodles (hiyashi Chuka in Tokyo, reimen in Osaka) in the summer any more makes me shed real tears. Maybe on my birthday in July.

      After doing squats and one other exercise the other day, showered in hot water quickly and then dunked myself in the 50-55 degree F Japanese bath (deep so even a tall guy like me can curl up and submerge whole body). Stayed in with no problems for 5 minutes. I can see extending this to 10 minutes easily.

  15. Sally on April 9, 2012 at 19:59

    You just jumped right in, after a year and a half of warm adaptation?
    I’m surprised you could last so long!

  16. agatha on April 10, 2012 at 03:12

    I’m jealous of your tub.

  17. Pauline on April 10, 2012 at 04:31

    I have introduced hot/cold showers into my life with good effect. My mother used to swear by cold water on her face for good skin, my daughters paternal grandmother said cold showers on her body regularly kept her body especially her breasts very youthful all her life. Just read Katherine Hepburn did cold showers every day of her life and she lived until 96, Hepburn’s mother and her grandmother had taught her to do that very early in her childhood. There is so much on the web about this for improved immune system, great skin and as I said to my partner who has started having ice cold showers, its invigorating. We also don’t seem to feel the cold so much during the day. Thanks for all the info Richard, you got something going on here!

  18. mark on April 10, 2012 at 05:01

    What was the temperature outside? This would warm the water alone correct?

    • mark on April 10, 2012 at 05:04

      wait – it was mentioned earlier..

  19. David L on April 10, 2012 at 05:34

    I do the ice pack thing on the back of my neck, stomach, and lower back nightly for an hour. Took a 20 minute soak in a 60 degree tub of water last night. It’s invigorating as hell and my libido fucking skyrockets as soon as I get out. Shit is like a natural Viagra. Even if I don’t get rid of my sniffles, my skin doesn’t become as pristine as a baby’s ass, or I don’t lose even an inch of fat, the raging boner and strong desire to fornicate is enough to satisfy me.

  20. scott on April 10, 2012 at 05:51

    How are you going to avoid eating to compensate for the calories lost to the cold water?

    • Richard Nikoley on April 10, 2012 at 06:02


      That the primary area of my interest. Before, I always worked out fasted to some degree, 12-20 hours typically, twice per week, and then the cold plunge also fasted. The workout itself seemed to curb hunger.

      This morning I’m going to have a big protein breakfast, then go in the tub like a half hour later. We’ll see.

      • AndrewS on April 10, 2012 at 13:04

        I’d recommend adding one thing at a time. You added safe starches without modifying a bunch of other variables, right? I’m wondering about the cold plunge itself, and related timing issues. Fasted? After workout? Daily before bed?

      • Richard Nikoley on April 10, 2012 at 17:18

        Ive done these things long enough to know everythng I do works in terms of diet, exercise, fasting and cold. Remember, I did cold for more than three years before. Getting back into it now.

        At this point I’m experimenting with combinations that seem sensible and fit within my routine, tweaking as I go.

    • Jscott on April 10, 2012 at 08:15

      I took a long warm/cool hot cold shower last night. I was massively hungry 2 hours later as if I had the munchies from an illicit (some would say) substance.

      On the other thread Ray talks about consuming high fiber no grain/sugar/fat foods (stir fried veggies is what he does).

      The hunger(?) felt good but made sleep difficult.

  21. Uwe on April 10, 2012 at 07:35

    Northstar at Tahoe in September. Should still be warm enough to warm up after ice plunge.

  22. David Evans on April 10, 2012 at 08:34


    At the risk of sounding stupid, do you have a warm shower after your cold dip, or does this undo the “good” work of the cold bath?

    • Richard Nikoley on April 10, 2012 at 08:45


      At the gym, because it was in treated water, I would warm up with a fully cold shower to rinse off (no soap or shampoo, which I never use anyway). Yesterday I just troweled off, then sat outside in just me wet sorts for a half hour or so. Then I began to feel chilled and I put clothes back on. So no, no hot shower for me but a natural warming. My hands & feet were toasty all evening, which isn’t always the case.

      • David Evans on April 10, 2012 at 09:08

        Thanks for clarifying Richard.

  23. indigogirl on April 10, 2012 at 09:26

    Love your tub! Thanks for sharing.
    Did you cold adapt first, or just take the plunge?

    • Richard Nikoley on April 10, 2012 at 11:05


      It had been over a year since I did it regularly, but that was colder, 40-45. I thought I might have to adapt again, but turned out I slipped right in, no problems.

      This morning, I did it overnight fasted, about 12-14 hours, for just over 28 min, same water temp, 51F. Got out at the first sign of a deep shiver/shake. Waited about an hour and just had an enormous breakfast: 4 oz ham, 2 egg omelet, heaping tbsp sour cream, a smoothie with a raw egg, 10 oz whole milk, and 60 g whey protein.

      So on the issue of overeating in the 2 hr window after, just go in fasted, i.e., before you would normally eat anyway (before breakfast, before dinner – I normally eat only 2 times per day).

      • Richard Nikoley on April 10, 2012 at 11:08

        I did note that warming up took a lot longer this morning being in a fasted state than yesterday where I’d had a pretty big meal about 3 hours prior. But I did get pretty hungry last evening, but allowed myself to feed the hunger. This is what i recall from before. Always took a good while to warm up, but I was ALWAYS doing it fasted.

  24. Joseph Fetz on April 10, 2012 at 10:45


    Please do me a favor and make sure that Bea or somebody else is around when you do this, especially if you lower the temp or decide to go for longer periods.

  25. Teddy P on April 10, 2012 at 11:49

    Fill up the tub again with 51 degree water. Without getting in, wait 26 minutes and measure the temperature.

    • Richard Nikoley on April 10, 2012 at 11:50

      The tub was back down to 51-52 this morning when I got in.

      • Paul C on April 10, 2012 at 14:24

        Looks like the tub is on concrete? With the tub on top as an insulator, the concrete probably is staying ground temp, around the 51-52, then transferring that temp to the water maybe?

      • Jerry on April 10, 2012 at 17:49

        Those tubs have ribs under them, with significant air gaps. Any heat transfer between the concrete and water will happen fairly slowly.

      • Richard Nikoley on April 10, 2012 at 18:14

        Thanks Jerry. Exactly what I thought a second after deleting the comment from email with the jump link to make the same response.

  26. Wolfstriked on April 10, 2012 at 14:46

    Last year and for a few years I would be the person shivering at work and wearing sweaters and sweat jackets constantly.I kept thinking to myself WTF is wrong as I was always the person who dressed lightly.This winter I did the whole thing with just a windbreaker.Its amazing how warm you feel when your body adapts to cold.Weightloss was better also.But good things come to an end and summer is setting in sadly. :)

    Might have to do some cold/hot showers…..

  27. dr. gabriella kadar on April 10, 2012 at 19:01

    Is your tub going to grow mosquitoes? Just checking. Mosquitoes would be drag.

    • Kevin Kolk on April 11, 2012 at 12:44

      It will only do that if Richard lets it turn green/stagnant (algae/etc) without that the Mosquitoes won’t be interested in it. I suspect Richard will stop being interested in getting into scummy water before the Mosquitoes become interested in laying eggs in it.

      • Richard Nikoley on April 11, 2012 at 15:07

        So far, pretty easy to keep fresh. I just add water slowly so that when I get in gently, it spills over the sides and all the surface stuff goes with it.

      • Wolfstriked on April 12, 2012 at 12:55

        Come on,that would be totally primal!! let it grow and grow with mosquitoes covering it and then you can do a real primal cold water dunk.LOL just had to type that as that made me laugh….ty

  28. Quack Frost on April 10, 2012 at 21:32

    This cold water saga is getting boring.

  29. Quack Frost on April 11, 2012 at 15:19

    Hmm. Could have sworn I made a follow-up comment – and that you did as well. You wouldn’t be getting all Jimmy Moore on us, would you, Richard? ;)

    • Richard Nikoley on April 11, 2012 at 16:16

      I made two comments. Wasn’t thrilled with ’em in the morning, so I deleted my own. Limitations of the platform is that replies are deleted as well.

      Yea, I went a bit overboard.

  30. […] Posts RSS ← Cold Water Therapy and Experimentation Recommences […]

  31. art on April 12, 2012 at 04:25

    If you do this, are you condemning yourself to a summer of sweaty misery?

    • Kevin Kolk on April 12, 2012 at 05:56

      I’ve done the cold exposure thing before, from Jan->April of 2011 my house was never above 55 degrees unless nature heated it beyond that level. And in Michigan that won’t happen very often during that period of time. I also took to shoving snow in nothing more than a t-shirt, sweat pants and gloves.

      If anything I was more comfortable that summer then years past since I wasn’t carrying around as much extra bulk.

      I haven’t experienced any evidence that becoming more cold tolerant results in you becoming suddenly heat intolerant. I have seen some folks claim that they find 70 degree rooms unbearably hot after becoming more cold tolerant, to the point of sweating but honestly that seems just plain silly to me and goes against the entire idea of what this process is taking advantage of. I’d argue those types of effects are more mental buildup then physiological.

      Think about it, the core principal is because your body can regulate your temperature to maintain something around 98.6 degrees by sitting in cold you force it to work harder to maintain that temperature. I’ll admit that this kind of exposure causes you to feel like it’s temporarily warmer when entering a warm room immediately after exposure, I can’t see how it would cause everything to feel too warm for a long period of time. But pushing your body to work harder to stay warm isn’t going to lower your long term body temperature, thus causing it to have to work harder to stay “cool” (more sweat). If it did then folks who practice this type of exposure over the long term would see their base body temperature drop and the exposure itself would become less effective. Your body is not going to have to start sweating at temperatures that used to be comfortable in order to continue maintaining your natural body temperature.

      If the advocates that this exposure reduces inflammation are right, then if anything it should be easier for your body to stay cool.

      • Monte on April 12, 2012 at 08:35

        @Kevin Kolk

        I agree completely. My experience is that after cold adaptation the heat bothered me LESS. Its weird just how indifferent to heat I really am. I used to hate it. Now cold or heat doesn’t bother me at all. Its actually quite liberating. I can’t wait for the Texas summer! lol.

      • AndrewS on April 12, 2012 at 09:50

        Texas summer can take it’s time, please!

        I’ve rarely done cold plunges (never found a facility for it, closest I generally come is friends’ pools during winter) but I will often end showers with all-cold water. Yet for decades, family & friends have noted how hot I normally run. I’ll wear shorts and a t-shirt when family around me is shivering in layers. Warm boots and good gloves mean that snowboarding, to me, is very tolerable.

        So… maybe, once you have your BAT, it’s much easier to maintain? I haven’t yet done any cold plunges at home but I’m tempted.

  32. art on April 12, 2012 at 10:06

    Thank you, Kevin.

  33. John Rhoades on April 12, 2012 at 11:23

    I started essentially the same experiment about two weeks ago. I used a Jacuzzi tub in my bathroom and threw in two or three 10 lb bags of ice ($2 ea. at grocery store) to get the water temp into mid to high 50’s. So far have done 8 soaks of 30-40 minutes each. Body submerged, head dry.

    The first thing I noticed is that I don’t get sore any more after a hard gym workout, if I do the cold soak immediately after. Other effects, my blood pressure shot way up right after the first few soaks. Went to 180/90 compared to my normal 130/70. But after about the 5-th soak, there was only a slight blood pressure rise to 145/80. This should be a warning for people to ease into this practice slowly, lest you pull a Whitney Houston. My core temperature goes up, not down during a soak. Examples are starting from 98.6, went to 99.5 and 100.1. This effect also diminished after 5 soaks. I guess that’s why I actually felt warm and toasty sitting in 57 deg F water. The only time I feel cold is in the first 1-3 minutes, and a little at the end when I start shivering. The shock of getting into the tub is quite impressive, as Richard notes. Each time, I think, Geez, am I really going to do this? What kind of fool am I? But I’m comfortable enough after just a minute.

    What I hope to gain from all this is lower fasting glucose (I’m a former type II diabetic and my morning fasting glucose is usually 100-110 mg/dl, aiming for 85-90), better immunity to disease (had one cold in past 3 years, but that is one cold too many), some weight loss (currently at 19% body fat, would like to get to 10%), and some strength gain. All of these changes have been reported by various people on the web. It is too early to tell if I’m making progress on any of these. Maybe I’ll have some results to report in a few months.

    • LeonRover on April 13, 2012 at 02:28

      Nice description of your experience, John.

      A question: You write “little at the end when I start shivering” –

      do you use the shiver reflex as an indication that you have done enough and should end the session?

      Just curious.


      • John Rhoades on April 13, 2012 at 11:59

        Since I’m easing into this practice, I use the onset of shivering as sort of a timer. I stay in the tub 5 more minutes and then get out. Once I get more adapted, I may not do this anymore.

      • LeonRover on April 14, 2012 at 03:11

        Thanks, John.

        Finally found a quote for these procedures:

        “The snot green sea. The scrotum tightening sea.”
        Ulysses, James Joyce.

        At 12 Celsius, scrota definitely tighten & pucker!!!!
        (From age 10, I’ve plunged into waves rather than sidle slowly forward.)


  34. Trilobyte o' Ram on April 13, 2012 at 10:07

    Ever since college when two friends and I ran into a lake that was barely 40 degrees, I’ve always enjoyed cold water swims. The rush to the heart is exhilirating, and my experience too has been after a minute of near full submersion the cold dissipates.

    How do you feel about plunging head first into cold water?

    We put in a pool last year. I started swimming in early April. Water in the low 60s. I dive in from the diving board–only way to roll. The feeling of going in headfirst and the hitting full submersion is incredible.

    A chlorine tab in one of those floating pool chlorinators would help keep the water fresh. If you wanted agitation and water movement you could always use a high powered aquarium waterhead.

  35. Bad bunny on April 13, 2012 at 11:51

    I’ve read with interest Dr Kruses philosophies and I heard him on Fat Burning Man podcasts, I think he’s hyper intelligent and a little bit mad, aren’t genius and insanity two side of the same coin?

    As a peep who suffers dreadfully with the cold (permanently cold hands and feet) a little bit of cold adaptation wouldn’t go amiss, I just cannot take myself beyond the face in the cold water for 30 seconds scenario!

    Good luck with your trials…you got balls….(well maybe when you warmed up a little later) :)

    • Richard Nikoley on April 15, 2012 at 13:54

      “As a peep who suffers dreadfully with the cold (permanently cold hands and feet) a little bit of cold adaptation wouldn’t go amiss, I just cannot take myself beyond the face in the cold water for 30 seconds scenario!”

      This has been the oddest result for me so far. While I don’t ALWAYS have cold hands and/or feet, it does happen often enough. Since my second session in the water with hands and feet submerged, I’ve not had cold hands/feet once. In fact, often quite the opposite.

      Anyone care to speculate why?

      • marie on April 15, 2012 at 18:44

        Reactive capillary dilation in your hands/feet? (after the strong constriction when they were submerged).
        I’m thinking since this can last hours and you’re doing these baths nearly daily, the circulatory effect alone might be ‘curing’ the cold hand problem….maybe.

  36. marie on April 13, 2012 at 19:51

    Richard, a request : any ideas on what to measure/how to answer the question below?
    It’s been bothering me ever since I tried cold adaptation 2 years ago. I monitored many metrics, but the problem is that while I lost 11 pounds and lowered body fat 4% by resistance (having kept every nutrition aspect constant), my ring size Increased by one notch and I thought my facial skin generally looked ‘plumper’ ( a boon if you’re a 40-ish woman, not complaining!).
    So the question is, how to measure that to check if it’s in the skin (if I do this again) and not some hand swelling. Has your recent wider reading on cold adaptation brought up anything relevant to this?
    I’m thinking maybe a caliper test on typically ‘slim’ areas might pick up superficial skin thickening? I need something that is not heavily affected by the overall weightloss (eg. my waist went down 1.6 inches, so skin fold test there would be overwhelmed by that). Any suggestions, I’d appreciate.
    BTW, I did this with Natural outdoor air temperatures in upstate NY October to December (50’s to 34F and in December just avoided sub-freezing days) and kept Controlled water temperatures gradually decreasing to 52F. My feet and body were in, hands and head out. So at some point early on, my head and hands were in colder (air) temps than my body, wore gloves and hat when air was under about 45F (or if I just felt cold some day before I started). Wondering too if/how that may make a difference.
    Thanks for considering…

    • Richard Nikoley on April 15, 2012 at 11:49


      Sorry, don’t really have any ideas for you. I haven’t noticed anything like that but admittedly, only 4 sessions so far. I dod my my hands in the water as well. Should know more after a few weeks, to see how near daily sessions might have different results from when I used to do 2 sessions per week.

      • marie on April 15, 2012 at 18:54

        Thanks anyway. I’d like to ask you again in a couple of weeks if I may, to see if you’ve noticed anything. It might be interesting if it’s a fat distribution phenomenon and not just an (unexpected) swelling. The facial effect is completely subjective so I can’t really count it, but the finger ring effect was measurable and lasted for me a good long time, into spring, so I’m intrigued.

  37. marie on April 13, 2012 at 20:15

    typo: “lowered body fat 8% by resistance measurement”.

  38. Josh on April 13, 2012 at 23:52

    What’s the story with that tattoo?

  39. Richard Nikoley on April 14, 2012 at 01:42

    Josh. You mean my little devil?

    Story is, Bea & I went to a festival many years ago, before I broke up with her, got back together and eventually succumbed to marriage.

    They did temp tats, and Bea thought a cartoon devil suited me, devilish, but not sinister, I had them put it on, I liked it, so after some months of contemplation I made it permanent. My instruction to the tattoo artist: Casper the friendly ghost, but a devil.

  40. Fox Peterson on April 14, 2012 at 17:14

    This is really interesting and I’m looking forward to finding out more about the effects of the cold baths. When I was a college athlete, our team was required to take cold baths after every hard workout, and many athletes took them after every practice. I think this is a fairly common practice among collegiate runners, so I wonder if they might be a valid population for examining the effects of cold baths over the long run? Just a random thought. Personally, I found that my recovery for the next day’s practice was definitely better following a cold bath, but I never tracked any quantifiable variable about it (if only!).

  41. Brad on April 15, 2012 at 22:04

    I’ve been doing cold start, cold finish showers for a couple of years now and I’ve done things like New Year’s Polar Bear plunges. So I figured I had a good start on cold adaptation. Today I sat in the tub and let it fill with cold water. We have well water that comes from a deep source (300ft+) and it is always numbingly cold. I filled the tub over about 20 minutes. I had full body shivers that were almost comical. Other than that it wasn’t too bad. I didn’t get out until the tub had fully drained so I was immersed for about 35 minutes. The shivers continued for about an hour afterwards but I felt great. Can’t wait to do it again!

  42. Pauline on April 16, 2012 at 03:13

    Anyone experienced noticable drop in blood sugar after doing warm then cold shower mid evening after supper, I think at the moment I am going to have to stick with morning warm/cold showers… They do have a strangely all day calming effect which both my partner and I find noticeably weird.

    Recent Link on Youtube from Grandmother who teaches cold water themogenis:

  43. Pauline on April 16, 2012 at 03:15

    Oh and blood sugar low after shower at night induces a need to eat something to feel ok. My partner doesn’t feel this.

  44. agatha on April 16, 2012 at 09:54

    Plunging head first into cold water does sound wonderful but is on the dangerous side of things – a way to give your heart one almighty surprise..

  45. Brad on April 16, 2012 at 21:12

    I did another cold water immersion tonight for about 30 minutes. The shivers didn’t come on until about 15 minutes into it. I started shivering almost immediately when I did it the first time yesterday. It didn’t seem nearly as cold at the start this time. Adaptation or just knowing what to expect?

    One annoying side effect: my skin feels really itchy afterwards for about 30 minutes until I’m fully warmed back up. I’ve experienced this before after long sub-freezing winter bike rides.

    • Richard Nikoley on April 16, 2012 at 22:39

      Hmmm, interesting on the itchy thing. I have not had that anywhere near what I’m doing now but, and I can’t be entirely certain but it struck a déjà vu with me. I think I used to get that way as a kid after a long day of skiing. And I recall it taking hours to warm back up.

  46. Pauline on April 17, 2012 at 01:09

    I also get a itchy, dry skin from cold exposure so I read somewhere that rubbing your body with coconut oil or olive oil before exposure to the cold keeps your skin moist and stops the dry itchy sensation. I do this and it works.

  47. Brad on April 17, 2012 at 07:17

    I suspect the itchiness is caused by the return of sub-cutaneous blood circulation. For some people it may be more tingle than itch.

  48. Pauline on April 18, 2012 at 02:25

    Regarding low blood sugar I read this note on a website regarding cold showers: “that you should not take cold shower immediately after too long and exhausting session of physical exercise, or when your blood glucose level is low, or soon after meals. Ideally, it should be done on empty stomach”. I think that explains low blood sugar mid evening too soon after my evening meal.

  49. Pauline on April 18, 2012 at 02:28
  50. […] exposure is getting popular again. It is now being called CT or Cold Thermogenesis. Jack Kruse and Richard Nikoley (FreeTheAnimal) are all over this topic. From 2008 until the start of this year, I engaged in some […]

  51. […] I'll start at the end, since it's the newest thing. A month or so ago I first began to blog about Cold Thermogenesis (CT), followed it up with another, and then just shy of a month ago, renewed my own experiments with my own 150-gallon backyard tub. […]

  52. KM on May 10, 2012 at 12:12

    What kind of cold water therapy do you suggest to anyone without access to a plunge pool/ tub? Cold bath or shower? And if I have a cold bath is the coldest possible on the tap enough or is more ice needed?! And should I be immersed fully up to my neck or is just doing the legs okay? Thanks for a great post!

    • Richard Nikoley on May 10, 2012 at 12:38

      KM, these are all ultimately matters of preference. Not a fan of showers because only part of your body will be covered and you’ll probably feel colder because of the spray and the “wind chill” the stream creates. I wouldn’t mess with ice. Just use straight tap water, colder in winter, warmer in summer. Just go with the enviro. I think it would be preferable to have your torso submerged than your legs.

      Also, one thing I didn’t mention in the post is I don’t do the hands out of the water like a lot of people do. My hands are submerged from start to finish.

  53. Paul R on May 14, 2012 at 03:53

    There’s too many unknowns to be able to judge from the change in water temp what your potential burn was. This would include ambient temp, RH, Wind speed (to account for reasonably significant cooling potential from surface evaporation) Body temperature gradient before and after. An estimation of body volume is very easy (fill tub to brim, get in, get out, measure how much to fill to brim again). Specific heat capacity of tub, area of tub exposed to direct sunlight and potential thermal gain there….

    • Richard Nikoley on May 14, 2012 at 09:03

      Paul, in theory, yes. Over 30 min time, too minuscule to measure or account for and grossly washed out by having a 180 ib person in that 130 gal.

      When I’m no in it, no matter what, I can no detect any change in the thermometer in a 30 minute space of time, even in direct sunlight, which it’s not, anymore.

  54. […] Fasting and Cold Thermogenesis: … from my very first session almost a month ago, 26 minutes at 52 degrees, I have not experienced cold hands or feet a single time. Not once. In fact, I sometimes feel as […]

  55. Issue #11 | Paleo Weekly on July 26, 2012 at 15:36

    […] Cold Water Therapy and Experimentation Recommences […]

  56. Darin on September 24, 2012 at 06:51

    Maybe it’s just your hands which need to cooled:

    Very interesting…

    • Richard Nikoley on September 24, 2012 at 09:52

      Yes, Darin, I’ve seen that and Skyler Tanner blogged about it, or perhaps Keith Norris. Makes sense to me because after getting out of really cold water, when I warm up, I get sweaty feet and hands.

  57. kvond on August 2, 2015 at 13:02

    Do you change the water each time? It seems like a lot of water to go through each day. Any thoughts on adding salt or something to have it last a few days?

    • Shannon Pack on June 27, 2017 at 12:59

      I take a bucket–dip it–then water plants nearby in my yard. I have the 50 gallon Rubbermaid trough. HAVE to have fresh water every day/dip. Otherwise, mosquitos will lay their larvae in it if left more than a day.

  58. Shannon Pack on June 27, 2017 at 12:48

    I have this Rubbermaid trough! I fill it with water straight from the water hose, and get in! Redding, California is 110-117 regularly in the summer.
    As a matter of fact–i am headed to the trough NOW!

  59. Shannon Pack on June 27, 2017 at 13:01

    An excellent instant relief/attitude changer for hot days.

  60. Frank Peters on April 13, 2018 at 09:58

    Would the 150 gallon trough work for me? I am asking because I am 6’6″ and 270lbs. I believe that the depth of the trough is most important for my stature. Thoughts?

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