Do Cold Showers Affect Weightlifting Gains?

Will cold showers affect your ability to build muscle after weightlifting or any workout? Studies have shown that exposure to cold water actually reduces the speed of muscle regrowth. This does not necessarily mean that gains over time would be reduced, but it simply means that feelings of quick muscle repair are placebo, and cold water exposure does not help with the healing process.

Cold water can be used to feel “more awake” after a workout, but it can cause detrimental effects due to cold water exposure. After a workout, it is recommended to take a lukewarm or combination shower to cool off.

Are Cold Showers or Hot Showers Better After Weightlifting?

Whenever it comes to cold showers versus hot showers after weightlifting, the answer depends on what kind of results you’re looking for. Hot showers are technically safer and more comfortable, but cold showers do provide certain health benefits.

Hot Showers After Workouts

It might not make your muscles instantly heal, but hot showers undeniably very soothing to the skin and muscles. This is because hot water will dilate your blood vessels, allowing blood to flow more freely and increasing circulation. Heat in general also helps to soothe soreness.

That being said, some downsides to hot showers include becoming more tired or even sleepy after a shower, possibly overheating after your workout is over, and potentially making your skin dry and itchy.

Cold Showers After Workouts

Cold showers have some odd benefits when it comes to benefits post weightlifting. While it’s not particularly soothing, cold showers may:

Cold showers are often referred to as “hydrotherapy”, as they provide therapeutic, stimulating benefits. There are some downsides to cold showers, however. Cold showers after a workout may:

  • Cause a lot of discomfort, especially after being warm for long periods beforehand
  • Change blood pressure rapidly after a workout, potentially causing severe issues
  • Cause issues if you are recovering from an illness, such as a cold

Always start your shower at lukewarm temperatures and then gradually adjust it to be more cold. This will help prevent shock to your system. 

What Else Helps One Recover From Workouts?

There are better ways to recover from weightlifting besides showering. If you’ve just worked out, here are some tips for recovering faster so you can get to your next workout sooner:

  • Do static stretches immediately following your workout
  • Go for a walk after working out to gradually decrease your heart rate
  • Consume protein or vitamin-filled foods or drinks for maximum benefits

Hopefully you’re showering regardless, but these methods do a little more for the body than a hot or cold shower after weightlifting.

Conclusion: A Cold Shower Can Feel Good After Weightlifting

While cold showers might not have miraculous benefits after weightlifting, they definitely don’t hurt your gains. They do have other benefits, much like hot showers can. The best strategy for maximum benefits from showers is to combine hot and cold showers. Start your shower at lukewarm, shift to cold, let yourself chill out for five minutes, gradually shift to hot, and enjoy the rest of your shower!

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