Does An Ice Bath Help With Recovery From A Hard Workout?



Code icebergs from Gabriel Weinberg’s Blog – click figure for link to blog.


Hi folks,

My eldest son asked the other day whether an ice bath really helps with recovery from a hard workout, or is just another form of masochism. In my experience, an ice bath or a cold bath can help a great deal. Some argue that the ice isn’t necessary, and for shorter workouts I suspect that this true. For hard sets I find that an ice bath really helps. For instance, as I approach race season and my training is picking up, one of my favorite workouts is an 80-mile bike ride followed by a 10-mile run, as a brick (workouts are back to back with rapid transition off of the bike into the run). This set leaves your legs boiling hot, and ready for a cool down. Here is the FitOldDog recipe for an ice bath:

Equipment: bath of cold water, two large bags of ice, a stop watch.

Method: sit in the cold water (keeping you shorts on can be good, but I won’t explain why), tip in the two bags of ice, stir, start the stop watch for 15 minutes, move the water around regularly to improve heat flux (out of you into the water), when the alarm goes off, by which time the ice is long gone, EAT!!!!

Sound like fun? This is clearly a key component of any program of safe exercise for better health. The next day you’ll really reap the benefits of less soreness in your legs – I do anyway.

-k @FitOldDog



  1. Rory Conolly says

    I don’t know about this one. Ectomorphs with large surface area/body weight ratios might need to be careful, or risk hypothermia. I’m no ectomorph, but am unlikely to start adding ice cubes to my bath water!

  2. Works for me, which is the point. Nigel also follows this protocol – it is really for post-hard workouts. I add the ice after sitting in the bath to avoid cold shock. You don’t really notice the addition of the ice, except for the interesting noises it makes as it slowly dissolves and cools the water. You should try it, you might love it too, and you could eat ice-cream at the same time. It is argued that cold water is just as good as ice water, but I’m not sure of that, especially when my legs feel like radiators. -kevin

  3. According to that article, if you cool down your hands, feet and face, that coolness soon spreads to the rest of your body.

  4. Yes, Ice Baths really work for post workout soreness especially the delayed onset stuff “DOMS”. I started a 20 rep squat routine a few months ago and it makes the legs sore like nothing I have ever done before. Ice bath really helps cut that soreness down. I saw a reduction in both soreness intensity and duration (days) of at least 50%.

    Took an ice bath today right after another leg routine. It is not that bad at all and fun if you have a phone and your iPad with you. No need to go nuts. For the results I am seeing all I do is:

    – Fill tub to around 1/2 full with cold tap water
    – Get in
    – Dump in 1 full bag of ice
    – Sit back and relax for 20 minutes

    Enjoy 🙂

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.