The Sauna Cold Plunge Routine: Ultimate Guide [2024]

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The sauna cold plunge routine is a massive health unlock for anyone who needs access to a powerful natural tool for recovery, health, and wellness.

In this post, we will discuss the key aspects of this routine, examining their benefits, risks, and ways to integrate them into your daily routine.

Let’s dive in!

Short Answer: Popular weekly routine for sauna cold plunge protocol:

MondaySauna (15 min) → Cooldown (5 min) → Cold plunge (2 min), Repeat 2-3 times, End with cold plunge
TuesdayRest Day
WednesdaySauna (15 min) → Cooldown (5 min) → Cold plunge (2 min), Repeat 2-3 times, End with cold plunge
ThursdayRest Day
FridaySauna (15 min) → Cooldown (5 min) → Cold plunge (2 min), Repeat 2-3 times, End with cold plunge
SaturdayRest Day
SundaySauna (15 min) → Cooldown (5 min) → Cold plunge (2 min), Repeat 2-3 times, End with cold plunge

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Understanding the Concept of Heat Therapy

Heat therapy, also known as thermotherapy, involves exposing the body to high temperatures to stimulate health benefits.

Saunas, particularly Finnish and infrared saunas, are a common method for heat therapy.

They can promote detoxification, enhance blood flow, ease muscle pain, and support cardiovascular health.

Exploring the Benefits of Sauna

Regular sauna use can contribute to several health benefits.

The intense heat from a sauna prompts the body to sweat, which can help cleanse the body of toxins.

Further, the heat encourages vasodilation, leading to improved circulation and potentially lower blood pressure.

Saunas can also be a great way to reduce stress and promote a sense of relaxation and well-being.

Introduction to Cold Plunge

Cold plunge or cold immersion is a form of cold therapy where you immerse your body in cold water.

This can range from an ice bath at home to specialized cold plunge pools at wellness centers.

The cold temperature stimulates vasoconstriction, essentially providing a ‘shock’ to your system, and then vasodilation when you warm up again.

Related: Cold Plunge and Ice Bath Statistics

Uncovering the Advantages of Cold Plunge

The benefits of cold plunge therapy are numerous.

They include reduced muscle inflammation, improved mood, enhanced immune function, and better sleep quality.

Cold plunges can also stimulate brown fat activity, which plays a crucial role in burning calories and maintaining body temperature.

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Why Combine Sauna and Cold Plunge: Hot-Cold Contrast Therapy

The sauna-cold plunge routine is an instance of hot-cold contrast therapy.

By alternating between heat (sauna) and cold (cold plunge), you encourage vasodilation and vasoconstriction.

This ‘pumping’ action can improve your lymph and blood circulation, helping remove waste from tissues and deliver oxygen and nutrients more efficiently.

Related: Creatine and Sauna

Basic Sauna Cold Plunge Routine

Sauna and cold plunge routine

While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all routine, a basic sauna-cold plunge routine might look like this:

Routine Overview

  1. Begin with a 15-minute sauna session
  2. Followed by a quick cool-down, then a 2-minute cold plunge
  3. Repeat this cycle 2-3 times, ending with a cold plunge

This sequence can vary depending on individual tolerance, fitness level, and personal preference.

Related: Joe Rogan Sauna: Type, Routine, and Benefits

Advanced Techniques in Sauna Cold Plunge

Advanced Techniques in Sauna Cold Plunge

As you grow more comfortable with the sauna and cold plunge routine, you might want to challenge your body with advanced techniques.

Each individual is unique, and while some people may be satisfied with the basic routine, others may desire more intensity.

Related: What to Wear in a Sauna

Increasing Duration

One advanced technique involves gradually increasing the duration of your sauna sessions and cold plunges.

While beginners might start with a 15-minute sauna and a 2-minute cold plunge, more experienced practitioners can aim for 20-30 minutes in the sauna, followed by a 5-minute cold plunge.

The sauna‘s heat can intensify the detoxification process, while the extended cold plunge can stimulate a more profound anti-inflammatory response.

Related: Why Don’t I Sweat in The Sauna?

Shorter Rest Periods

Another technique is reducing the rest time between the sauna and cold plunge.

The shorter the interval, the sharper the contrast your body experiences.

This rapid switch from hot to cold induces a more potent vasodilation and vasoconstriction effect, which can optimize the circulation benefits.

Additional Cycles

You can also add more cycles to your routine. Instead of the basic two to three cycles of hot-cold contrast therapy, you might increase this to four or even five cycles.

More cycles can enhance the benefits, as the repeated change from heat to cold further stimulates your body’s physiological responses.

Combination with Breathing Techniques

Some advanced practitioners combine their sauna cold plunge routine with specific breathing exercises inspired by methods like the Wim Hof Method.

This can include deep, controlled breathing during the sauna session or holding your breath during the cold plunge.

These techniques can increase your body’s oxygen uptake and potentially enhance the benefits of the routine.

Related: Somatic Breathwork (Explained)

Important Tips for Sauna Cold Plunge Routine

Successfully incorporating a sauna cold plunge routine into your wellness regimen requires thoughtful preparation and consideration of safety measures.

The following tips can help you maximize the benefits while minimizing potential risks.

Related: Inflatable Cold Plunge: Complete Buying Guide

Stay Hydrated

Hydration is crucial for any wellness routine, especially for hot-cold contrast therapy.

The sauna‘s heat will cause you to sweat, potentially leading to dehydration if you don’t compensate with adequate fluid intake.

Drink plenty of water before starting the routine, and consider rehydrating with water or an electrolyte-rich drink afterward.

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Don’t Rush

Each stage of the sauna cold plunge routine — the heat, the transition, the cold, and the recovery — offers distinct benefits.

Hurrying through these stages can not only diminish the therapeutic effects, but can also put unnecessary stress on your body.

Take your time in each phase, allowing your body to adapt and respond to the changing conditions.

Prioritize Safety

Ensure you have a firm grip when entering and exiting the sauna and cold plunge pool to prevent slips and falls.

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It’s also a good idea to have a buddy system, especially if you’re new to this routine or increasing its intensity.

Related: Joe Rogan Grip Strength Recommendations [2024]

Recognize Your Body’s Signals

While the sauna and cold plunge can be challenging — and it’s normal to experience some discomfort — it’s important to distinguish between a healthy challenge and a distress signal from your body.

Note: If you start to feel dizzy, nauseous, or experience sharp pains, it’s essential to stop the routine.

These could be signs that your body is being pushed beyond its limits.

Start Slow and Gradually Increase

If you’re new to hot-cold contrast therapy, start with shorter sauna sessions and cold plunges.

Gradually increase the duration and intensity as your body becomes accustomed to the routine.

This gradual approach can help your body adapt to contrasting temperatures and minimize potential risks.

Cool Down and Warm Up Properly

After a cold plunge, allow your body to warm up naturally. It’s important not to rush this process, as your body needs time to return to its regular temperature.

Likewise, cool down after a sauna session before plunging into cold water.

This can be as simple as sitting in room temperature for a few minutes.

Related: Sauna Stretches To Boost Flexibility And Recovery

Consistency is Key

Like most wellness practices, consistency is key with sauna and cold plunge routines.

Aim to make it a regular part of your week while listening to your body’s needs.

Over time, you might find that this routine not only becomes easier but also more beneficial.

Precautions to Consider

While a sauna cold plunge routine has many benefits, it’s not suitable for everyone.

Individuals with the below conditions should exercise caution and chat with a healthcare professional before starting this protocol:

  • Heart conditions
  • High blood pressure
  • Pregnant

Conclusion: Your Path to Health and Recovery

At Pursue Performance, we highly recommend starting a sauna cold plunge protocol.

We are big believers in the restorative and mental health benefits.

A sauna cold plunge routine offers an excellent avenue for promoting health and recovery.

By carefully integrating this routine into your wellness regimen, you can experience significant benefits.


What is the best routine for sauna and cold plunge?

The best routine can vary depending on individual tolerance, fitness level, and personal preference.

A basic routine might involve a 15-minute sauna session, followed by a quick cool-down, then a 2-minute cold plunge.

This cycle can be repeated 2-3 times, ending with a cold plunge.

How many times should you sauna and cold plunge?

Ideally, you should aim for 2-3 sessions a week. However, this can vary depending on individual tolerance and fitness level.

Is it good to go from sauna to cold plunge?

Yes, alternating between a sauna and a cold plunge — known as hot-cold contrast therapy — can improve your lymph and blood circulation, helping to remove waste from tissues and deliver oxygen and nutrients more efficiently.

Should you sauna before or after cold plunge?

You should begin with a sauna session, followed by a cold plunge. The routine can be repeated, always ending with a cold plunge.

Is it OK to cold plunge every day?

While some people can tolerate daily cold plunges, it’s important to listen to your body and adjust as necessary. If you’re new to cold plunges, start slowly and gradually increase the frequency.

Can you cold plunge too much?

Yes, excessive cold plunging can put stress on the body and potentially lead to hypothermia. It’s essential to listen to your body and not push beyond your limits.

Is a 2 minute cold plunge good?

Yes, a 2-minute cold plunge can offer significant benefits, including reduced muscle inflammation and improved mood. However, the duration can be adjusted depending on individual tolerance and preference.

Why is a 2 minute cold plunge good for you?

A 2-minute cold plunge stimulates vasoconstriction and vasodilation, improving circulation, reducing muscle inflammation, and enhancing mood.

What to do immediately after cold plunge?

After a cold plunge, it’s important to warm up slowly. You can do this by wrapping up in a warm towel or robe, drinking a hot beverage, or doing some light exercise to increase circulation.

Why am I so exhausted after cold plunge?

A cold plunge is a form of stress on the body, which can result in temporary fatigue. However, regular practice can help your body adapt, and you should experience less fatigue over time.

What time of day is best for cold plunge?

The best time of day for a cold plunge can vary depending on personal preference. Some people prefer morning plunges to kickstart their day, while others prefer evening plunges to aid sleep.

What are the negatives of cold plunge?

Potential negatives of cold plunges include temporary discomfort, initial fatigue, and the risk of hypothermia if not performed correctly.

Should you shower after cold plunge?

It’s not necessary to shower immediately after a cold plunge. However, if you feel uncomfortable or if the water used in the plunge was treated with chemicals, you might choose to shower.

Do cold plunges increase testosterone?

The research on testosterone changes after cold immersion is mixed, with some studies finding modest increases and others finding no impact.

How long is too long in cold plunge?

The ideal duration for a cold plunge can vary, but most experts recommend between 2-10 minutes.

Spending too long can stress the body and potentially lead to hypothermia.

How many days a week should you cold plunge?

Aiming for 2-3 sessions a week is a good starting point.

However, this can be adjusted depending on individual tolerance and fitness level.

Are cold plunges anti-inflammatory?

Yes, cold plunges can reduce inflammation by constricting blood vessels and decreasing metabolic activity, which reduces swelling and releases endorphins.

Do you burn calories in cold plunge?

Yes, cold plunges can stimulate brown fat activity, which plays a crucial role in burning calories and maintaining body temperature.

Medical Advice Disclaimer


The information, including but not limited to text, graphics, images, and other material contained on this website, are for informational purposes only.

No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

About the Author

Drew Wilkins is a fitness and nutrition expert with a Master's in Biokinesiology (emphasis in Sports Science) from the University of Southern California and over a decade of experience as a personal trainer, nutrition consultant, and wellness coach. An avid surfer and soccer player, he brings a unique perspective to his research, advocating for a balanced approach to health that includes physical fitness, nutrition, and mental well-being.

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