By Brian Mackenzie
The cold presents a very unique opportunity with our sympathetic nervous system (fight, flight, freeze). Physiology is incredible, and an analogy that I heard a while ago pretty much sums up how we teach cold training. When we watch animals like a Lion hunting an antelope, we really have no way to see any differences physiologically with what's happening to either animal. Even though one is the hunter and one is being hunted. The difference between the lion and the antelope is that the lion wants to be there, the antelope does not.
The cold will always be cold, it is your choice if you want to experience what it has to offer or not. Be the lion.
1. Boost’s your Human Growth Hormone
2. Boost’s your Immune system up to 300%
3. Increases testosterone in men up to 490%
4. Increases sperm count
5. Increase’s circulation
6. Reduces swelling in joints
7. Burns brown fat in body, takes a lot of energy to warm your body back up to normal temp.
8. Norepinephrine increases 200-300%. A hormone and neurotransmitter that has incredible effects on metabolism, pain and inflammation.
The cold presents a unique opportunity in that it is not very pleasant very quickly, but feels so incredible when we get done. Why is that? Well turns out there are real mechanisms to cold adaptation those of the nervous system, cardiovascular, endocrine, and muscular systems. The body’s approach is a trifecta in that we need to:
1. Increase metabolic rate to keep the core warm (protect what is important), and turn up the furnace internally with the release of FFA’s (free form fatty acids) and glucose.
2. Leave what is no longer important – it’s temporary, but the restriction of blood vessels and capillaries in the extremities and even the body teaches elasticity beyond just expanding in heat.
Then 3. Which leads back to 1, when we increase metabolic rate we are also asking areas of the body to vasodilate when we turn up the furnace inside. This allows all the processes of the systems above to work incredibly well.
That said, it is not a one-stop shop. It requires time and patience. Nobody can just sit in cold water without some form of acclimation to it, so start small, maybe :30 – 1:00 for a couple of rounds with warm water or heat (sauna) between.