What is the recommended protocol when combining sauna and cold plunge?


The recommended protocol for combining sauna and cold plunge involves several key strategies, as discussed by :

  • Cold Exposure First: Initiate deliberate cold exposure, such as a cold shower or cold plunge, early in the day for dopamine release and to elevate catecholamines and cortisol, which are beneficial when elevated early. It is advised not to do cold plunges after strength or hypertrophy training within 6 hours, as it can suppress the adaptations of the training 1.

  • Heat and Cold for Recovery: Designate a specific day for heat and cold exposure, which is beneficial for recovery and cardiovascular health. The use of sauna, followed by cold exposure on this day, can result in increases in growth hormone. Avoid cold immersion after workouts to prevent blocking adaptations, but cold showers may not have the same negative effects 2.

  • Sauna Protocol: Use the sauna in increments. One example of a protocol is ten sauna sessions, each consisting of three rounds of 15 minutes separated by two minutes of cooling off with a cool shower or in cool air, which could also include a cold plunge 3 4.

    Boosting Dopamine

    Andrew recommends deliberate cold exposure to increase dopamine for long periods of time. This can be achieved by taking a very cold shower or plunge for a brief period of time or by sitting in warmer water up to the neck for 45 to 60 minutes. The temperature and duration don't need to be precise, but it should be uncomfortably cold to increase baseline levels of dopamine significantly.

    Huberman Lab

    Leverage Dopamine to Overcome Procrastination & Optimize Effort | Huberman Lab Podcast
  • 'Soberg Principle': To increase metabolism through cold exposure, end with cold and perform the 'Soberg principle' where after the cold exposure you dry off with arms extended in open air 5.

  • Time & Duration: For deliberate heat exposure, a common recommendation is to spend around 20 minutes in the sauna at 80 to 100 degrees Celsius (176 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit). Start with shorter periods like five minutes and increase duration to something more comfortable for your body. Frequent sauna sessions can provide various health benefits 6.

Remember to always approach both sauna and cold exposure with caution, ensuring it is done safely and without exceeding personal limits 1 4.