Ah, home sweet home! In a bit, two former M3 online clients will be here for a fun day of learning, lifting, assessments, and much more. Wahoo!

One of the “fun things” we will do is cold water immersion (CWI) in the sealed chest freezer in the Extreme Human Performance Center filled with 47 F water.

This brings me to a question I got recently.

Are you still doing cold water immersion right after your aerobic/cardio session? I assume this is because it won’t limit hypertrophy/ muscle growth?


Most of it’s to feel better, and I do my aerobic training on a separate day and/or a shorter session in the AM.

I have the rower and bike in my garage, so I can hop out there and do it, no matter the weather.

Why post-cardio?

Some mechanistic data show that CWI post aerobic exercise may increase the adaptations via VEGF and PGC1-alpha increases (Joo CH et al. 2016).

Warning – mechanisms don’t always transfer to performance, though, so be wary of the fitness nut-bag spouting alphabet soup to impress the IG followers.

The data on aerobic performance effects in humans – not 1-legged half-blind ferrets – show that it does not appear to worsen performance, but benefits are still unclear (Halson SL et al 2014; Broatch JR, et al. 2017; Aguiar PF, et al. 2016).

The current data shows that CWI may enhance aerobic performance, and it will not crush the positive adaptations you trained so hard to get. That’s a win for CWI post-aerobic work in my book.

If you want to get bigger muscles, the hypertrophy research and CWI is not as positive.

A study done by Peake JM et al, used 10 min at 50F immediately after and did some blunting of hypertrophy (aka loss of dem gainZ, boooo).

Keep in mind that it was for an entire 10 minute period, and it was done immediately post lifting in the study.

If you are doing less time or at a different time of day, it may not have that negative muscle-blunting effect.

The longest I recommend for most to do CWI is 5 minutes. If you want to hedge your bets toward more muscle, skip doing CWI immediately post-lifting.

If you are only doing a short session of CWI at any time, I wouldn’t be too concerned.

If you want all the nerdy details and the exact protocol, I have it in the Phys Flex Cert. I am still working out the exact date it will open again, but most likely in September.

In summary, if you want to get every last ounce of muscle out, skip the CWI post lifting but you can do it immediately post cardio work.

And if you are getting a ton of hypertrophy from your cardio sessions, lift more weights! haha

Stay cool!

Dr Mike

PS- if you want to learn how to use cold water immersion, sauna, HIIT, breathe work and more to be more resilient, recover faster and just be much harder to kill, the Physiology Flexibility Cert is for you. Stay tuned for more details on the release date coming up.


Peake JM, Markworth JF, Cumming KT, Aas SN, Roberts LA, Raastad T, Cameron-Smith D, Figueiredo VC. The Effects of Cold Water Immersion and Active Recovery on Molecular Factors That Regulate Growth and Remodeling of Skeletal Muscle After Resistance Exercise. Front Physiol. 2020 Jun 30;11:737. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2020.00737. PMID: 32695024; PMCID: PMC7339943.

Joo CH, Allan R, Drust B, Close GL, Jeong TS, Bartlett JD, Mawhinney C, Louhelainen J, Morton JP, Gregson W. Passive and post-exercise cold-water immersion augments PGC-1α and VEGF expression in human skeletal muscle. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2016 Dec;116(11-12):2315-2326. doi: 10.1007/s00421-016-3480-1. Epub 2016 Oct 3. PMID: 27699485; PMCID: PMC5118413.

Halson SL, Bartram J, West N, Stephens J, Argus CK, Driller MW, Sargent C, Lastella M, Hopkins WG, Martin DT. Does hydrotherapy help or hinder adaptation to training in competitive cyclists? Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2014 Aug;46(8):1631-9. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000268. PMID: 24504431.

Broatch JR, Petersen A, Bishop DJ. Cold-water immersion following sprint interval training does not alter endurance signaling pathways or training adaptations in human skeletal muscle. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2017 Oct 1;313(4):R372-R384. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00434.2016. Epub 2017 Jul 5. PMID: 28679683.

Aguiar PF, Magalhães SM, Fonseca IA, da Costa Santos VB, de Matos MA, Peixoto MF, Nakamura FY, Crandall C, Araújo HN, Silveira LR, Rocha-Vieira E, de Castro Magalhães F, Amorim FT. Post-exercise cold water immersion does not alter high intensity interval training-induced exercise performance and Hsp72 responses, but enhances mitochondrial markers. Cell Stress Chaperones. 2016 Sep;21(5):793-804.


Rock on!

Dr. Mike T Nelson


Dr. Mike T Nelson

Dr. Mike T Nelson

PhD, MSME, CISSN, CSCS Carrick Institute Adjunct Professor Dr. Mike T. Nelson has spent 18 years of his life learning how the human body works, specifically focusing on how to properly condition it to burn fat and become stronger, more flexible, and healthier. He’s has a PhD in Exercise Physiology, a BA in Natural Science, and an MS in Biomechanics. He’s an adjunct professor and a member of the American College of Sports Medicine. He’s been called in to share his techniques with top government agencies. The techniques he’s developed and the results Mike gets for his clients have been featured in international magazines, in scientific publications, and on websites across the globe.

  • PhD in Exercise Physiology
  • BA in Natural Science
  • MS in Biomechanics
  • Adjunct Professor in Human
  • Performance for Carrick Institute for Functional Neurology
  • Adjunct Professor and Member of American College of Sports Medicine
  • Instructor at Broadview University
  • Professional Nutritional
  • Member of the American Society for Nutrition
  • Professional Sports Nutrition
  • Member of the International Society for Sports Nutrition
  • Professional NSCA Member