11 Steps on How to Prepare for Cold Plunges: For Newbies and Experienced Folks!

Joey Randazzo

Published: Oct 21, 2023

Last Updated:

You’re absolutely hyped to do your first cold plunge. But if you’re like I was, you’re also terrified.

I did my first proper cold plunge at a Wim Hof Fundamentals Workshop in Portland.

No joke, I was freaking out. But, as you’ll soon learn, cold plunges are amazingly terrible. This is a picture of me after my first plunge with my friend Bobby over 4 years ago.

This guide is designed to give you an idea of what to expect, how to prepare, and more.

Quick Summary Answering How to Prepare for a Cold Plunge

Leading up to your plunge, try to:

  • Do other forms of deliberate cold exposure for a few days:
    - Cold showers
    - Going outside in the cold with minimal clothing

The day of your plunge:

  • Give yourself grace
  • Breathe 
  • Know you’re powerful and strong!
  • Pack accordingly
    - Extra clothes
    - Bathing suit
    - Towel
    - Water shoes (if outside)
    - Gloves, beanie, jackets (if winter)
  • Be safe
    - Bring water and food
    - Have extra fuel if doing an outdoor plunge
    - Go during daylight
    - Scout the water to make sure it’s not flowing too fast
    - Tell loved ones where you’ll be
    - Go with a plunging buddy!

The moments before and during your plunge:

  • Breathe deeply with longer inhales
  • Try to stay in long enough to have controlled breathing (if safe)
  • Don’t push it!

Preparing For Your Plunge Should Begin Days/Weeks in Advance

Note: I recommend you connect with your doctor and let them know your plan. It’s always better to be safe!

This is a step that most folks get wrong!

They go from living their life like this…

To expecting that they can easily handle something like this…

Good luck with that!

Begin Deliberate Cold Exposure In Advance (Ideally 10+ Days)

Get used to getting uncomfortable!

It doesn’t have to be anything crazy. Here are some basic things you can consider doing leading up to your first cold plunge.

  • Have the last 20 seconds of your showers be cold water
  • If it’s winter, take your dog out to go pee in shorts and a t-shirt instead of putting on a jacket

Again, it doesn’t have to be over-the-top! These little things will start to build up. A study found that just after 10 days of deliberate cold exposure, something called Brown Adipose Fat started to develop. 

Brown Adipose Fat is a form of fat that basically helps you handle the cold better.

Before Getting Into The Specifics, This is 100% a Requirement When Preparing for Cold Plunges

Get rid of your ego.

I’ve plunged with dozens and dozens of people.

  • MMA fighters who have nearly cried they were so scared
  • Grandmothers who have been plunging for 10+ years
  • Wim Hof instructors

The cold is cold.

It doesn’t discriminate. 

It’s not in your control.

And it’s a serious, potentially dangerous activity.

So let go. Understand that this is not an easy thing. Give yourself grace. And don’t make it a competition.

If anything, go into your first plunge as an exercise of surrender.

How to Prepare for Your First Cold Plunge, A Preparation Checklist:

This will be a checklist for your first outdoor plunge.

Yes, it’s totally fair to do an indoor plunge in a standard bathtub with ice or with a proper cold plunge. Simply read through the checklist and only grab the things that apply to you.

Hydration and Nutrition: 

☐ At least 64 ounces of water 

☐ Warm tea in a Thermos (lemon ginger tea w/honey is my favorite) 

☐ Snacks, such as nuts, a protein bar, jerky, or dark chocolate 

Plunge Essentials:

☐ Bathing suit

☐ Water shoes

☐ Towel(s)

☐ Thermometer (you need to know how cold that water is!)

☐ Change of warm clothes (don’t forget cozy socks!)

Safety Measures: 

☐ Charged cell phone 

☐ Portable charger 

☐ Tell family/friends where you're going 

☐ First aid kit 

☐ Make sure you give yourself ample daylight 

☐ Plunge with a buddy! Don't go alone.

☐ Enough gas in your car (no comments you EV folks)

How to Prepare for Your First Cold Plunge, An Action Checklist:

Alright, the fun part!

This is the exact process that me and my buddies do when we go out plunging:

Before the plunge:

Wim Hof Breathing (either in the car or on a yoga mat, depending on rain)

☐ Undress and do a final Essentials check (I’ve forgotten my water shoes in the car too many times!)

☐ Pre-ritual: set intentions, get hyped up, pray, etc

As you’re entering the water:

☐ Go in with your plunging partner at the same time

☐ Take slow, deep breaths

☐ Calm breathing until it’s at a normal pace

☐ When you just start to reach the mental state of “I need to get out of here!” (fight or flight), commit to 3 deep, powerful breaths (don’t be afraid to make some noise, we like to yell and grunt → whatever makes us feel powerful!)

Exiting the water:

☐ Slowly and calmly exit the water

☐ Immediately get into horse stance

☐ Towel off

☐ Put on warm layers

☐ Sip on tea, reflect on the plunge, and show gratitude

After Your Plunge:

☐ Take pictures and video of your plunge location (and maybe a selfie!)

☐ Journal

Document your experience using ChillGuide (takes 3 minutes and is free!) so that other people can experience what you experienced!

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