cold plunge in the ocean

An 8 week Cold Plunge Guide from 59°F to 39°F

Cold plunging involves submerging the body into cold water, typically ranging in temperatures from 59°F all the way down to 39°F. This practice is believed to trigger various physiological responses, including the activation of the sympathetic nervous system, increased endorphin release and enhanced blood circulation. These effects contribute to the reported benefits of cold plunging, such as reduced muscle soreness, improved mental clarity and increased energy levels. However, for beginners, the prospect of submerging in frigid waters can be daunting.

This article outlines a gradual 8 week approach to ease into cold plunging, transitioning from a relatively mild 59°F to a brisk 39°F, while reducing immersion time from 7 minutes down to 3 minutes.

Keep in mind, each person's tolerance can be different and the most important thing is to listen to your body. If you have pre-existing medical conditions, it is best to consult your doctor prior to starting a cold plunge. 

8 Week Program | Time & Temperature Targets:

Week 1 - 7 minutes at 59°F
Week 2 - 7 minutes at 56°F 
Week 3 - 6 minutes at 53°F
Week 4 - 6 minutes at 50°F
Week 5 - 5 minutes at 47°F
Week 6 - 5 minutes at 44°F
Week 7 - 4 minutes at 41°F
Week 8 - 3 minutes at 39°F

How often should I cold plunge?

It is recommended to cold plunge 3-4 times a week to achieve this plan. This frequency will not only help adapt your body to the cold but also start the process of a new routine. 

Week 1-2 | Braving the Plunge

Begin your cold plunging journey by setting the water temperature to 59°F. Aim for 7 minute sessions focusing on steady, deep breathing to calm the initial shock to the system. During this phase, the goal is to become comfortable with the new cold plunge routine and to start experiencing the initial benefits, such as enhanced alertness and invigoration.

Keep in mind that after the initial acclimation phase, you will be gradually reducing the water temperature by 3°F each week. This gradual reduction will help the body slowly adapt to colder temperatures, making the transition smoother and more manageable. As you become more comfortable with lower temperatures, you will also start adjusting the duration of your cold plunges. Reducing immersion time can help mitigate the intensity of the cold as temperatures continue to drop.

Week 3-4 | Feel the Rush

By week 3, the water temperature should be 53°F. Decrease immersion time from 7 to 6 minutes, maintaining focus on deep breathing and relaxation techniques. At this stage, you might start noticing an increased tolerance to the cold and improvements in recovery time after cold plunging.

Week 5-6 | Gaining Strength

By week 5, the water temperature should be reaching 47°F. Cold plunging in the 40's is a significant milestone! Reduce the immersion time from 6 to 5 minutes. This adjustment helps in acclimating to colder temperatures without overwhelming the body, maintaining the balance between challenge and comfort.

Week 7 | Embracing the Cold

By week 7, aim to lower the water temperature to 41°F with immersion time at 4 minutes. This phase is crucial for preparing the body for the last step. It's important to listen to your body and ensure you're not pushing beyond your comfort and safety limits. This range can provide the full spectrum of benefits associated with cold water immersion. This stage requires careful attention to your body's responses and a willingness to adjust based on comfort and safety.

Week 8 | Finding Your Best Self

At this stage, limit immersion time to 3 minutes to ensure safety and to prevent hypothermia risk. The intense cold will provide a robust stimulus to the body, offering the potential of significant benefits. To be submerging in water temperatures in the 30's is a HUGE milestone. At this point, your body and mind should be feeling the full benefits of cold plunge. Welcome to the O zone. 

Tips for Success

  1. Consistency: Regular practice is key to acclimating to cold temperatures. Aim for consistent sessions, ideally several times a week.
  2. Mindfulness & Breathing: Focusing on deep, steady breathing helps manage the initial shock and discomfort. Mindfulness can also enhance the experience, turning it into a meditative practice.
  3. Gradual Progression: Avoid rushing the process. Gradual adaptation to colder temperatures ensures a safer and more enjoyable experience.
  4. Post-Plunge Warming: Develop a routine for warming up after each plunge, such as light exercise or wrapping up in warm clothing to gradually bring your body temperature back to normal.
  5. Health Considerations: Consult with a healthcare provider before starting cold plunging, especially if you have underlying health conditions.

Getting comfortable submerging the body into ice cold water requires patience, resilience and a mindful approach. By gradually decreasing the water temperature and immersion time, individuals can safely explore the benefits of cold plunging while minimizing the risks. With each plunge, the body's tolerance to cold increases, potentially unlocking a range of physical and mental health benefits. The key to successful cold plunging lies in listening to your body, ensuring safety, and embracing the process with an open and resilient mind. 

General Safety Warning

Prioritize safety throughout the process of acclimating to colder temperatures. Always listen to your body and be willing to adjust the temperature and duration, as needed. Signs of hypothermia or excessive discomfort should not be ignored.

After cold plunging, it is recommended to warm up with natural ambient temperatures so you can continue to indulge in the cold plunging properties. 

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