A How-To Guide to Start Polar Plunging for Peak Performance
Experience the Invigorating Daily Ritual that Tony Robbins, Tim Ferriss, Laird Hamilton, JP Sears, Wim Hof, and Countless Others Swear By
Cold water therapy has become somewhat of a buzzword in the biohacking and personal development communities over the past couple of years. And for good reason.
The collective conscience is finally catching on to what professional athletes, entrepreneurs, and high-performers around the world have been doing for ages to break through slumps, speed recovery, and build vitality.
In a 2014 interview with Tim Ferriss, motivational coach and all-around powerhouse Tony Robbins credited his daily morning routine of cold water immersion with helping him maintain his seemingly endless supply of energy:
“Waking up. I’ll do it just like… BOOM! Every cell in the body wakes up, and it’s also just like training my nervous system to rock...I don’t give a shit how you feel; this is how you perform. Right? This is what you do...I like that simple discipline that reminds me of the level of strength and intensity that’s available at any moment—even if I am relaxing I can bring that up, at will.”
Tim Ferriss, himself, has done “hundreds and hundreds of ice baths.”
These men are part of a growing group of “forces of nature” who are making a regular habit of immersing themselves in liquid ice, including: Laird Hamilton, Wim Hof, Paul Chek, JP Sears, Ben Greenfield, Mark Sisson, Jerome Jarre, Joe Rogan, Michael Phelps, Tony Horton, Ido Portal, and yours truly ;)
By now I am sure that many of you have heard about some of the supposed benefits of getting your body in cold water.
Physiologically, it boosts your sex drive by triggering the release of luteinizing hormone.
You don’t have to know what that means, but it sounds fancy enough... and actually experiencing it yourself will be much more impactful than reading about it.
It also improves insulin sensitivity, strengthens your immune system, catalyzes fat loss, blasts your body with energizing adrenaline, and promotes muscular recovery.
On the emotional side of things, cold water immersion triggers the release of serotonin, aka the happiness hormone, which may or may not improve your mood.
Just from a psychological point of view, waking up first thing in the morning and confronting a facefull of ice cold water without hesitation catalyzes you to feel like an embodied warrior.
There’s a lot to be said for that alone.
And as if all that weren’t enough, cold water immersion might even increase longevity.
In his groundbreaking book, Healthy at 100—which recounts the scientific findings of then-Harvard professor Dr. Alexander Leaf—author John Robbins tells of the Abkhasian centenarians living in southern Russia.
Apparently, these mystical long lived men in Abkhasia would polar plunge in cold rivers daily, no matter what the weather was like. Many of these men lived well into their hundreds.
While I am by no means claiming to be an expert on the science of how polar plunging works, my experience confirms many of these reported benefits.
If you’d like more science on why you should polar plunge, look no further.
But if you are bold enough to bypass your brain for a moment, and follow your curiosity…
The real question is, where do you begin?
With all the information and terms floating around the internet—cryotherapy, thermal contrasting, the Wim Hof Method, etc—things can get a little hazy.
Not to mention expensive; many specialty freeze tanks sold on the market cost thousands & thousands of dollars, which isn’t practical for most...yet ;)
That’s why I am writing this blog post.
To clear the air about what is perhaps my favorite funcomfortable Breaking Normal Hack in existence.
I want to slice through the intellectualizing and make polar plunging more available to all of you.
My life has benefited greatly from implementing this into my everyday routine, and I trust it may serve you as powerfully.
This blog post is intended to shake off the intellectualism &/or rational lies surrounding cold water exposure and get right down into the cold hard truth.
I am providing you with an easy-to-follow, practical, how-to guide, so that you can take the plunge and experience what I am talking about right away.
As always, be smart, and take precaution when exposing yourself to cold water. It is counterproductive if you take it too far, or get hurt.
Also, for those of you who are more experienced practitioners, I’ve included some tips for furthering your practice that I have found really take it to the next level!
So, let’s take the plunge.
Take a cold shower upon waking every day for 30 days.
If you are new to polar plunging, the best way to start is to begin taking cold showers.
When I say cold, I am talking about turning the faucet all the way to the right.
If you want to ease into this, experiment by starting on warm, and then alternate 30 seconds on warm and 30 seconds on cold. Repeat this cycle for your whole shower and end on cold.
Shower for however long your regular shower takes, probably 3-5 minutes.
A quick tip: the less time you take to hesitate getting under the water, the greater your reward.
Not only does jumping in right away give your mind zero time to come up with an excuse for why you shouldn’t get in—potentially preventing you from obtaining the natural high a cold shower provides—it also establishes a passive relationship with fear and discomfort.
What I mean by this is that if you step into the shower after deliberating for ten minutes, you train your nervous system to respond to all discomfort that way: afraid.
Boldly entering the shower, on the other hand, and allowing the water to hit you immediately right in your face, chest, and privates, rewires you to relate to your fears and discomfort in a new, more empowered way.
Embrace the cold, embrace discomfort, and confidence grows.
Take regular ice baths.
Once you’ve made a regular practice of getting used to cold water, it’s time to up the ante.
I like to use a freezer I bought brand new for a little over $200 at a local sears outlet, which you can find something similar at BestBuy, Home Depot, Amazon, etc. or even get it cheaper (maybe even for Free99) by a neighbor on Craigslist, and fill it up with good clean water.
But if you have a bathtub or kiddie pool, you can also dump bags of ice into it, along with cold water. Whatever floats your boat.
These are much cheaper, and more accessible, alternatives to investing in a $4,000 to $40,000 plunge pool.
Plus, I could even take my freezer with me on the road, unlike a large plunge pool or cryotherapy unit.
A few tips from experience.
- Be careful about ice buildup, as the ice can be sharp. I’ve already cut my arm doing this. Another excuse to be more present ;)
- If you are using a freezer, make sure to always unplug it before getting in, or else you may find yourself just a little too invigorated!
- Don’t place the freezer/water too close to an outlet, or spill water around an electrical area once you are in the tub. (Once again, another reason to be present to filling to the freezer full enough, but not too much)
- And finally, if you are using a freezer, don’t tip it one way or the other, because there is an electrical coolant inside the freezer that can be dangerous if it gets jostled around.
- As always, be smart; don’t catch a cold.
I haven’t yet mentioned one of my favorite ways to jolt my body awake with some cold water, and that is by polar plunging in nature.
Going for a hike and dipping into rivers, waterfalls, and oceans packs a double whammy.
First, you get all the benefits of cold water therapy.
And second, you recharge yourself even further by surrounding yourself with wild, beautiful scenery and revitalizing natural elements.
Not to mention those negative ions—a whole ‘nother level of research available for you mavens out there.
You can look into western science or eastern science; either way you’ll be convinced.
OK. That’s all I’ve got on cold water immersion...actually that's not true (but this feels complete enough for a catalyst for you to find your own funcomfortable zone as that's where you'll find the bliss of now)
No more words to distract you from the main point of this article:
If you are not polar plunging, you are missing the boat.
Don’t think about it.
If it vibes, just DO IT...responsibly, of course.
I once heard in a Ted Talk something along the lines of:
“If you don’t have the courage to be funcomfortable in the comfort of your own home, then you probably haven’t tapped into the courage to lead others to be outside their comfort zone, which is where the growth takes place.”
And if we want to be leaders who are inducing growth, polar plunging is a good place to start.
As Vine Star Jerome Jarre says,
“You believe in the end result, right? And you believe in the process. Why would you not do it?”
As always, use good judgment, and take precaution when exposing yourself to cold water. It is counterproductive if you take this practice too far, or hurt yourself or others in the process.
“Ep 37: Tony Robbins on Morning Routines, Peak Performance, and Mastering Money." Interview. Audio blog post. The Tim Ferriss Show. iTunes, 15 Oct. 2014. Web. 16 Aug. 2016. <http://fourhourworkweek.com/2014/10/http://fourhourworkweek.com/2014/10/15/money-master-the-game/15/money-master-the-game/>.
“Ep 146: The Random Show, Ice Cold Edition." Interview. Audio blog post. The Tim Ferriss Show. iTunes, 16 Mar. 2016. Web. 16 Aug. 2016. <http://fourhourworkweek.com/2016/03/16/the-random-show-ice-cold-edition/>.
Greenfield, Ben. "How You Can Use Cold Thermogenesis To Perform Like Lance Armstrong And Michael Phelps." Ben Greenfield Fitness Diet Fat Loss and Performance Advice. Greenfield Fitness Systems, 15 June 2012. Web. 16 Aug. 2016. <https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2012/06/cold-thermogenesis-how-to/>.
Ikonn, Alex. “How to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone with Jerome Jarre.” Online video clip. YouTube, 14 May. 2013. Web 16 Aug. 2016.
Portal, Ido. "Ido's Blog." : Morning Training... BlogSpot, 16 Sept. 2006. Web. 25 Aug. 2016. <http://idoportal.blogspot.com/2006/09/morning-training.html>. Portal, Ido. "Ido's Blog." : Russian Sauna and Real Presents... BlogSpot, 16 Sept. 2006. Web. 25 Aug. 2016. <http://idoportal.blogspot.com/2006/09/russian-sauna-and-real-presents.html>.
RawBrahs. "Polar Plunging - Paul Chek & RawBrahs." YouTube. RawBrahs, 09 Apr. 2013. Web. 22 Aug. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfPPCKpUqek>.
Robbins, John. Healthy at 100: The Scientifically Proven Secrets of the World's Healthiest and Longest-lived Peoples. New York: Random House, 2006. Print.
Rogan, Joe. “Joe Rogan Experience #137—Tim Ferriss, Brian Redban.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 23 Jan. 2013. Web 16 Aug. 2016.