How You Can Use Cold Thermogenesis To Perform Like Lance Armstrong And Michael Phelps

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Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

If you haven't heard, Lance Armstrong was recently accused of doping.

But as I mentioned in the article “Ben Greenfield Admits To Using Performance Enhancing Drugs”, there are safe and natural strategies that go above and beyond banned practices such as doping when you want to improve performance.

For example, the topic of cold thermogenesis and cold thermogenesis how to has come up a few times on this show.

Podcast episode #187 answered the question Does Cold Thermogenesis Work For Fat Loss?

And in Episode #130 Tim Ferriss and Ray Cronise explain how to manipulate your body's temperature to burn more fat.

But what about human performance? Do the benefits of cold thermogenesis go above and beyond simply burning fat faster? And if so, how is it that cold thermogenesis could actually enhance performance for a guy like Lance Armstrong or Michael Phelps?

I answer all these questions and more in this audio episode with Dr. Jack Kruse, a neurosurgeon who has extensively studied cold thermogenesis and developed cutting-edge protocols for using cold exposure to burn fat and enhance performance.

We discuss some cool techniques (pun intended) and cold thermogenesis how to's in the show, and Dr. Kruse even discusses how athletes such as Lance Armstrong and Michael Phelps have benefited from cold thermogenesis.

Questions, comments or feedback about cold thermogenesis?

Leave them below, and be sure to tune in next week, when I release an interview with founder of “Vasper” a technology that combines exercise, cold exposure, compression and grounding to enhance performance gains.

Ask Ben a Podcast Question

98 thoughts on “How You Can Use Cold Thermogenesis To Perform Like Lance Armstrong And Michael Phelps

  1. KiwiWings says:

    Regardless – or even especially on account – of this being almost a decade later – it seems like good time to reignite this discussion, Ben.
    A possible idea: track down Andrew Huberman.
    The code phrase: arterio-venous anastomoses, to get the discussion unfolding promptly.

    Alternatively, just directly revisiting the more recent literature regarding some of the thermoregulation aspects of physiology (including the above mentioned AVAs) should suffice. It would not be hard to imagine that you would likely already be well-versed, but at least for the sake of having the knowledge brought to a wider circle, in a more accessible form.

  2. Jonny Barcroft says:

    Hi Ben

    You mentioned 2 cold showers a day and a long soak once per week, how long should these be and at what temperatures?

    I’m getting a bit more used to the cold water than when i first started, are there any danger signs i should look for before i get out the cold water and jump into the sauna, is shivering the best sign that you’ve had enough?

    1. Jonny – the showers only need to be 2-3 minutes to get the vascular changes that helps the tiny muscles move blood, and assist the heart. Think of it as HIIT Training for your circulatory system. Within 30 seconds you can also stimulate anti-oxidant production and if you do hot to cold there is evidence of reduced sickness and increased ability to fight off disease..
      The cold soak is tougher to answer. most of the data back research wasn’t that cold 14-16 Celsius and was done for an hour. I live most of the time in the French alps and often will do a snow or ice water immersion for 5-12 minutes after workouts. Nothing scientific about it just what I’ve found to work for me.
      lastly, if it’s health and performance you are after one of my team mates from the Olympic Training Center did her PhD on the effects of sauna on EPO production. There are several studies that show increased EPO production and decreased incidence of heart attack with regular (2-3x per week) 20 minute saunas. Something worth looking into.
      Patrick Sweeney – the Fear Guru –

  3. hey, bg…it’s the end of october, my wetsuit comes off after 5 minutes (not the booties or the gloves), as i am floating every day for an hour in my 55-57 degree pool, and i start to shiver about 30 minutes into my sessions. i keep shivering for the 30 minutes i’m in one of those “portable saunas,” which also has a steamer inside, so it’s hot from both sources. i get upstairs, onto my bed, and i’m still shivering. how many calories do you think i am burning? is being warmed up afterward by the steamer/sauna a bad idea, if i had been in 55-degree water for an hour?

  4. joel says:

    Hi Ben

    I hope I haven’t overlooked an answer you gave to another listener already regarding my question but what’s the suggested frequency for ice baths/cold thermogenesis for beneficial results?

    Thank you!

    1. I do a couple cold showers every day and a long soak or cold swim once per week. That's my method!

  5. dom says:

    Ben, Thanks for everything.

    I am consistently doing low-HR running.

    And Cold Soaks in the morning and night.

    Should I be concerned about too-high level of cortisol?

    1. Just make sure you replenish calories and carbohydrates, then monitor your HRV using something like…

      1. Jeremy says:

        So do the cold soaks raise cortisol? I’ve found info saying they raise it and other sources saying they lower it. If cold soaks raise (or lower) cortisol, should we think about the time of day we soak? If cold soaks raise cortisol, should we soak in the morning and add to our naturally higher AM levels of cortisol, or wait and soak later in the day to “spike” our cortisol when it’s naturally on the way down? And the inverse question if cold soaks actually lower cortisol – do we want to dampen the AM cortisol levels by soaking, or wait until later in the day to ride the downward wave?

        1. You can get a slight increase in cortisol, yes. But it is more of a hormetic effect and not a big issue for cortisol to go up…and the host of other physiological benefits outweigh any cons unless you have full blown adrenal fatigue.

  6. Lauren Ramsey says:

    I am experiencing issues with my Thyroid and am taking naturethroid. However I would like to start doing cold thermogenesis in addition to taking the meds because my thyroid fluctuates and while the meds help I have varying results. What are your thoughts on cryotherapy? Is this considered an acceptable form of cold therapy?

    1. Cold water is way better than cryotherapy because A) your head gets wet, which stimulates the vagus nerve and B) you get the hydrostatic pressure of water against the skin.

  7. Michael says:

    Just curious….would a pool work for the cold water soak. It is just not feasible for me to get a good soak in our oversized tub. I can take a cold shower but I was wondering if just using the pool would work as well, especially now that fall and winter are approaching.

    1. The pool would definitely work yes! As long as it's not heated ;)

    2. Sunday says:

      Can you just stand outside in 30 degrees weather for some time? Will that do anything helpful?

      1. david putterman says:

        It definitely will. If you want to speed up the effects…put on a wet t-shirt before going outside. Water conducts temperature better than air. That’s why standing outside naked in 55 degrees is far easier than being in 55 degree water.

  8. Attila says:

    Hello Ben. Great podcast. Can you tell me more please about keto adaptation for kids, let sey 10 years old. It is about my older sun, he plays tennis and he is a skier but he has a little bit of belly fat, but he is very strong, with very hard muscles. His brother, 8 years old, plays also tennis and he is skiing also and has almost no body fat. We eat healthy, I am around 9% body fat (athlete) and my wife around 13-14%. We eat the same food. Why is so big differences in body fat in the kids. Is it a good idea to be a little bit more extreme considering the food, let say less carbs, more fat for the kids…is it ok? What do you recomend? Thanks.

    1. You should review this:…

      for more specific details, I'd be happy to help you via a personal one-on-one consult. Just go to and then choose a 20 or 60 minute consult, whichever you'd prefer. I can schedule ASAP after you get that.

  9. DaDumTss says:

    Brrrr. I’ve been using cold showers for a while and still, ooph. Now, just for clarification: you’re supposed to walk away feeling better right? I usually feel drained following a cold shower.

    1. In this case you may have adrenal fatigue. I'd check this out:…

  10. Josh says:

    Great episode! Jack seemed to dial it down for the lay audience.

    I especially enjoyed the image of Jack Kruse lying in his tiled cellar floor, naked, drinking wine.

  11. ntrepidathletics says:

    Did you just reference the Simpsons Ben?

  12. Kristen2266 says:

    If doing ice baths (mainly for recovery purposes after workouts) is it okay to wear booties? I have thermal surfing boots and used them today. My feet typically go numb when I do ice baths and that has been refraining me from doing them at all. Thanks so much!

    1. It's not only okay, it's recommended! Getting frost bite on your fingers, toes and (ahem) other bits is not the intended outcome.

  13. Jenna says:

    Hi Ben,

    I would firstly like to thank you for providing an informative, thoughtful and well researched articles and podcast.I have a question regarding cold thermogenesis. I was hoping that you could discuss or contrast the effects/ benefits of pure cold exposure (all cold water) versus hot / cold alternating contrast. I am inquiring specifically as it pertains to a shower protocol. Is one better off to use only cold water, or to cycle between hot and cold? Or is this dependent on ones goals? (recovery to use cycling of hot and cold, and for metabolic effects to use purely cold)?

    1. If time permits, cycling hot and cold is always better because you get better cardiovascular shuttling with vasodilation followed by vasoconstriction…

      1. Nils says:

        Hi Ben,

        did your opinion change here, or would you still recommend cycling between hot and cold contrary to showering purely cold?


  14. Hemming says:

    This was an amazing and very useful podcast with a lot concrete information you can implement in your life.

    Who cares about the bird…

    Thanks Ben!

  15. hato says:

    Any chance of a transcript without the chirping?

    1. LOL. I'm interviewing him again tomorrow night and hopefully there's no bird.

      1. Meagan Green says:

        Do you have a link to this new interview? Couldn’t focus with the chirping.

  16. Armin says:

    Hi Ben,
    thank you for all the amazing info!
    Would you recommend doing cold thermogenesis even for someone being hypothyroid or should that person wait until he has optimized its thyroid function?

  17. Fuus says:

    The entire time I was waiting for a gunshot to shut the damn bird up, wow

  18. matthew says:

    it like listen to loveline with smoke detector beeping every 30 second.

  19. matthew says:

    MAN one question who owns that bird……….

  20. Nelia Norris says:

    My professor once said that these three had their best diet before they landed to the moon. A good get ripped diet benefit a successful landing to the moon. Right?

  21. Winnie says:

    Hi Ben,
    And now for a really left field question about cold thermogenesis: is it possible that exposure to heat would have the opposite effect… Heat-induced fat hypertrophy? Might this possibly explain why some already pear-shaped women like me who are already prone to hip/butt/thigh/back of arm fat storage may end up with even more fat stored there after a few years of endurance training? I thought maybe the additional fat deposits had migrated to a "safe" place, away from the muscle groups I use as a cyclist. But maybe it's that these areas are more exposed to more sun and heat than other parts of my body while training outdoors, especially in hilly, hot areas? In short, should I be soaking my butt in a tub of ice after a long, hot ride? Thanks for your thoughts on this

    1. The more likely mechanism for something like this would be increased cortisol from stress related to the heat, Winnie. I have never seen any evidence that heat exposure can directly increase fat stores. You can mitigate heat damage by doing, as you have alluded to, cold thermogenesis post hot exercise sessions!

  22. Misty says:

    Is anyone else aware of the constant screaming in the background? Gosh,i love this cast, but i cant listen , its too painful. it sounds like chirping birds really loudly.

    1. I think it's his pet bird…i tried to "tone it down"…sorry. :/

    2. Mohamed says:

      Hi, Does anyone know of a way of chanigng the way that emails look in your inbox so that you can see at a glance if they have been replied to without opening them to see if there is the text you replied on xxxx’ ? I’m looking for a simple way of telling when an email hasnt been replied to without having to do anything so the ideal way would be for all emails that have been given a reply to change colour in the inbox so its clear which emails have and havent been replied to. Any ideas anyone? Maybe an add on? We are an internet retailer and get hundreds of emails per day at times so i want an idiot proof way of missing an email to reply to. We use outlook 2007 at the moment.

  23. Misty says:

    WHat is the noise in the backgroundd? i can hardly listen because of it…

  24. Cole Vance says:

    I'm gonna start taking cold showers and not using the wetsuit for my surfing sessions this winter…..Are there any studies or data out about being able to raise our ATP production to an incredibly high number like the 460 Dr. Kruse mentioned?

    1. Cole, that type of ATP production is a fixed value. What you CHANGE is how much fat you burn as a fuel and how many calories you burn to create heat!

  25. Andy says:

    Hey Ben, not sure it was this podcast you talked about Sherpas and their ability to perform at high altitudes. I had a genetics class years ago and I remember a lecture on the population in Nepal having a distinct variation in their hemoglobin giving it a higher affinity for oxygen. Just a thought.

    1. PVeritas says:

      We have Gurkhas. In general, they loose this ability about after the third generation away from the region they are born. The government of a certain dictatorial country replaces the existing batch of gurkhas with new blood every two generations or so. Hypoxic training is different to cold adaptation.

  26. shertz says:

    What's up with that bird?

    1. Yeah, I have no clue. It is a loud one though.

    2. Mark says:

      Holy sh1t!!!! That bird!

  27. jeff Hoening says:

    This doc lost me in the first few minutes of the interview when he said something like humans originated from rodents in Mexico. He also mentions packing yourself in 30-40 pounds of ice in the bathtub. The real and dangerous risk of frostbite in such a case was never brought up. Your idea of wading a cool stream is so much more realistic (and actually enjoyable). I'm a big fan, BG, but his one was a bit out there even for you, man.

    1. Well, regardless, if you keep listening, he does go over some good information, although I don't share his theories on the origin of man.

  28. Kelcey says:

    So now I won't complain when they turn down the pool temperature for the swim team this winter.

    I have a question for you Ben, a couple weeks ago we had a solid week of rain and cool temps. When I went for my weekly open water swim it was really cold and I was shivering uncontrollably for a good 10 minutes after my swim (even with the wet suit). The two guys I was swimming with also thought it was cold, but did not shiver after. Any thoughts on why I got so much colder then them? I don't think they were swimming super hard or anything. I know there are probably a lot of variables and reasons that you can't take into account without knowing more details, but any general thoughts would be appreciated.

    1. I can be multifactorial – including cardiovascular efficiency and blood flow, omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acid ratio, total body fat %, previous experience with cold conditions, etc. So there's not really a simple answer without digging deeper!

    2. PVeritas says:

      I lower my heart rate and number of breaths but increase length of gradual breathing as part of not shivering in order not to fight the cold but accept cold and lower core temperature. This is done gradually over months and years from one temperature gradient range to the next. If you fight the cold consciously your body will shiver, as if you did not have sufficient food to burn for energy. Also, I have a high metabolic rate, and sweat when I exercise at 0 degrees Celsius and below, warm and sometimes burning when at resting. Not so good in hot humid tropics.

  29. Jennifer says:

    My 14 year old daughter is a serious cross-country runner. She had her first summer "weight room" training yesterday. Their strength coach uses exercises that use the students' own bodies for resistance, but it is pretty intense. After a similar first time experience, my older daughter could hardly move the next day.

    Caroline has been taking 1 cold shower and 1 cold bath a day for about a week. She also eats a very anti-inflammatory diet. Immediately after her strength training, she took a long cold bath. This morning she reported virtually no soreness. Also, after only a few days of CT, she ran her best 5K ever. We're looking forward to her CC season this year, using CT.

    1. Awesome. Best of luck to your daughter, Jennifer.

    2. Harrison Fisher says:

      Can’t it become counter-productive to use cold therapy after most training sessions? I imagine that it could blunt the inflammatory processes that are part of normal training adaptation. If the purpose of strength training is to create a cellular stress on the body, wouldn’t an attempt to immediately reduce that stress counteract the entire purpose of the training?

      1. Yes, which I why I try to wait a couple hours, ESPECIALLY after strength training…

  30. Rob says:

    Would adapting to being able to handle more and more CT affect heat acclimation for a hot race in the summer?

    1. From a physiological standpoint, absolutely, because you're massively boosting both cardiovascular efficiency and pain tolerance at the same time.

    2. PVeritas says:

      It buys you time but not for the long term, such as living in hot humid tropics for more than a number of years.

  31. Ryan says:

    Hi Ben,

    Still fairly new to your podcasts, but am finding them really great.

    Not sure if i listened to it hear or read it , but did you mention the effects of a cold shower in the mornings, instead of a normal shower, having a fat burning effect.


    1. A little bit, especially if you've got pretty cold water. If you can do it more frequently, i.e. morning and evening, you'd be better off…

  32. @raowaraow says:

    Facinating topic. It might partly explain why after becoming hypothermic during the IMMelb swim (shivering, black hands, numb peripheries etc), twisting ankle on exit, continuing to have extremely uncomfortable bike (shivering most of the time) and actually sub par performance in both bike (5:41) and swim (1:27) for what I was expecting. However I then ran a massive pb, sub 4 marathon which was completely unforeseen from training or previous results, and with a twisted ankle! I actually took in nowhere near the recommended carb on the bike (couple of bananas and some SIS go gel) and even less on the run(about 1.5 TORQ gels plus sips/spits coke), yet felt terrific energy levels on the run which was most uncharacteristic. It was a cool day (26degrees). I live in NW Tasmania, where our temp is cool and our water very cold, even in summer in a wetsuit, I have a well developed facial cold tolerance!

    However, my question is despite living in a now cool temperature for over 7 years now, and having magnesium supplement and a fairly low carb diet – I still very much struggle with immersion and core cooling in that my hands and feet turn black, and my record capillary refill is 9-10 seconds. I have seen dead people with better! I find this rather disconcerting and it is a disincentive for persisting with the more extreme CT (husband routinely has ice baths with no problems). I think the ice bath is a phenomenal tool, and would love to use it, but at the moment I seem very much limited to cold water wading with a well covered upper body and hands! Is there any evidence that extreme CT can be dangerous for people like me with Raynauds phenomenon or disease or peripheral circulatory issues?

    1. I actually discussed in a podcast a few weeks ago how frostbite and extreme cold stress hyper sensitizes you as a safety reaction by your body causing extreme vasocontriction to those cold damaged areas in the future. In this case, with Raynaud's the very first thing I would do is test your omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids ratio. A company like Bioletics or WellnessFX can do this for you. Reduce vegetable oil, nut, seed intake and increase cold water fish, fish oil and cod liver oil intake…

    2. PVeritas says:

      Not necessary to use cold water for CT. Water is a better conductor of cold or heat, depending on your perspective, than air. I used cold air, conduction, with activities, ingestion of cold water, less of cold shower. Takes longer to get benifits of CT as it is more gradual. Did not need ice at all. My route was accidental CT as the family I lived with saved on heating with an unexpected side effect, that I exercised anaerobic, ate more, and subsequently converted to a higher fat diet, and importantly, did not fight breathing in cold air, but in controlled long breathes mixed with intermittent short inhales. Start with warming shower, end with ice cold shower. No ice packs or fancy gizmos volved. I don't recall Sherpas nor Gurkhas using fancy stuff.

  33. Tori says:

    How do I find out about phuket training camp

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