A&A for cold water


First Post
Hello, I've been doing the S&S program for a couple months now and think it has really helped me. I like how you combine working really powerfully with the feeling of being calm and in control and at ease.

I have been thinking about applying that approach (alactic & aerobic) to cold water training and wanted to see if anyone had any thoughts/feedback.

The goal of my cold water training is to be able to swim in Lake Michigan when I go to visit between Labor Day and the end of September--no matter the temperature. Hopefully enjoy the water, but get in at a minimum.

My old training: 5 days a week: 2 minutes cold water shower, 1 day a week 8 minutes cold water shower or bath, 1 day a week warm water shower. The cold water temperature is whatever the cold water temperature coming into the apartment is. It is a high of about 70 degrees during late the summer and reaches a low of about 45 degrees in January. (I can't go the full 8 minutes with that water temp.)

I also don't do any Wim Hof breathing and just get in and do it.

I notice that there seem to be three systems of warming which seem to line up with the energy systems described in Q&D. When you first get in the water it feels cold but your body warms up effortlessly (~phosphagen system?), after a while you start to shiver and feel very cold (~glycolytic system?), and once you get out of the water your body gradually returns you to feeling normal (~aerobic?).

What I've tried doing recently on my long days (water temp about 62) is going in the cold shower until it felt like the cold was starting to sink in a little and then turning the water off until I feel I'm coming back to normal, then repeat. Yesterday I did 7 X (30 sec cold shower, 30 sec no shower) at which point I started shivering, so I stopped.

Overview of my plan: get in the cold water until it starts to burn/sink in/feel bad, then get out of the water and let the body recover to normal, then get into the water again and repeat.

Do you think this is a good analogy?
If so, do you have guidelines or recommendations for what time periods to use in the intervals?

Tim Randolph

Level 7 Valued Member

You may be overthinking this. The water temperature in Lake Michigan in September is pretty reasonable. It’s the second warmest month on average. The water may be a bit chilly but I don’t think it requires special training. The most important thing is to keep working on your overall health. S&S is great for that.

The parallels between the energy systems and response to cold are interesting but likely not physically accurate. One thing you can do to up your ability to handle cold better is to build more brown fat. You do that by getting cold exposure. Cold water is great but you could also exercise outside in shorts and a tee in winter.


Level 8 Valued Member

Fist of all, welcome !

I have no doubt this kind of strategy works. However, I noticed that regarding cold expose, a "feeling based approach" is kind of enough.

Indeed, I like to keep things simple. For instance:
- Training outside (no matter the weather). That way, your body may adapt to both cold and hot environment. If this is not possible, open window is good as well.
- Never being "too dressed". A simple t-shirt and a shorts may be enough.
- Cold shower (from the beginning to the end) everyday.

When I feel this gets really too uncomfortable, I dress a little more. To do so, I always have a jacket or something in my backpack.

Kind regards,

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