How to Set Up an After-Workout Ice Bath at Home

By Gabby Reece | Wed Sep 06 2017

A big part of our post-workout recovery process here at XPT involves the manipulation of ice and heat. Applying intense heat or cold after a workout can produce many benefits for the entire body, from reducing inflammation to prevent injury and soothe sore muscles to improving circulation, boosting human growth hormones and bolstering your overall immune system. Whether you soak in a hot tub or take an ice bath after a workout, incorporating ice and heat therapy into your fitness or sports regimen can help you recover faster and improve your health and athletic performance over time.

There are many ways to achieve this experience on your own. Saunas and steam rooms, pools and Jacuzzis or ice baths are good places to start, but what if you don’t have any of these facilities at home or at your gym? While heat application can be managed in the shower or tub, complete submersion into ice can be challenging for the average athlete. Thankfully, there are a few relatively inexpensive alternatives to help you create a recovery ice bath at home. For easy access to ice baths after a workout, here’s what you need to do.

Laird Hamilton in an ice bath

1. Get a Tub

The average residential bathtub isn’t large enough for an athlete to completely submerge their body in ice. Fortunately, there are other ways to create an at-home ice bath experience: 

  • Rubbermaid Stock Tank: Rubbermaid Stock Tanks are available at your local hardware store or online. Designed for providing water for livestock, these tubs come with a side drain, which makes them super easy to clean when you’re done ice bathing after working out. We recommend the Rubbermaid 100- or 150-gallon stock tank, depending on the size of the person who is using it.

  • Icepod: ColdTub sells single Icepod units that are perfect for the home or gym. Just add ice and water, and you’re ready to soak!

  • 3B Scientific: A 3B Scientific ice tub is a high-end tub similar to what Laird and Gabby have in their home. The tubs allow for easy full-body immersion and can be a great investment in your athletic recovery.

2. Purchase Ice

If you don’t have access to a commercial ice machine (and most of us don’t), then we recommend using approximately 200 pounds of ice for your first round of ice therapy and an additional 100 pounds of ice for your second round, if split into groups. This should provide you with enough ice to last for two and a half hours.

Purchasing this much ice can get expensive, so we recommend inviting some friends over once a week to have an “ice party.” Everyone can chip in while you help your bodies recover!

If you do want to invest in an ice machine, this Hoshizaki model is a great one that will last you a long time!

Ice Bath Submersion

3. Use the XPT Ice-Heat Method

For optimal results from your ice bath after a workout, we recommend using a specific ice-heat method that leverages the benefits of both heat and cold.

Start with 10-15 minutes of heat therapy using a sauna, steam room or jacuzzi. Follow this up with 2-3 minutes of cold therapy, submerging yourself up to your neck in an ice bath. Then, repeat this process two more times.

We believe you should not end with heat, so the preferred system goes hot-cold, hot-cold, hot-cold. Once you’ve finished your heat and ice cycle, submerge yourself completely under the ice water before you get ready to come out. Here are just a few more tips to keep in mind:

  • When you’re ready to come out of the ice tub, remember to climb out slowly and hold on to the sides for support. If you have a friend with you, have them hold your arm to keep you steady.

  • Always consult your doctor before using an ice bath for athletes to ensure proper health.

  • If you are taking any type of medication, check with your doctor for clearance before using heat and ice therapy.

If you’re interested in learning more, check out some of our other information on the benefits of ice and heat therapy and how to best leverage it for athletic recovery.

Finally, we love photos. If you, your friends or your gym gets an ice bath and has an ice party, send your pictures to so we can share them on our social pages!

Enjoy, feel good and optimize your health!

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