How long should you ice bath for? Comprehensive Guide.

How long should you ice bath for? Comprehensive Guide.

Key Takeaways

  • 1 to 3 minute ice bath durations are for beginners and offer somewhat physical and mental benefits - a great starting point.
  • 5 to 7 minute ice baths are great for intermediate bathers and offer considerable physical and mental benefits.
  • 10+ minute ice baths are for experts and arctic veterans, offering maximal physical and mental benefits.
  • Keeping hands submerged, making slight movements, and finishing your ice bath with a head dunk are added bonus points to improve the challenge of your ice bath experience.

We have all read the blog posts, that talk to all these scientific posts, papers, and discoveries. We have all heard the doctors recommendation, you should be ice bathing for this long, or that long, under this temperature or that temperature.

But have these people ever done an ice bath in their life? Have they ever experimented with different amounts of ice, or ice bathed with multiple people and saw what different minds and mental fortitudes could handle when push came to shove?

Well, here at Aussie Ice Baths, we have. We will still entertain you with the scientific this, scientific that, la di da. But we are also going to give it to you straight, straight from the horse's mouth: on what durations are optimal, for what types of individuals, how much ice, and for what you are trying to gain out of each ice bath session.

ice bath duration versus physical and mental benefits

What The Quacks Say

A lot of the scientific literature and ice bath articles floating around on the internet point to 10-15 minutes of ice bathing being the optimal exposure time.

1-Minute Ice Bath Duration

  • Beginner Mode
  • Negligible Physical Benefits
  • Somewhat Mental Benefits
  • 95% of the population have what it takes for this duration

The 1-minute ice bath duration is optimal for the individual that is extremely hesitant to test their mental resolve, challenge themselves, and step outside of their comfort zones.

Enter perhaps your mum that just likes to live life on easy mode and do all of the feminine motherly things. Or perhaps it's your mature aged/elderly dad who is starting to edge on to the side of stubborn and cynical.

Either way, this is the absolute beginner duration, unless you have serious physical or mental hindrances, you can do better than that!

3-Minute Ice Bath Duration

  • Easy Mode
  • Somewhat Physical Benefits
  • Good Mental Benefits
  • 70% of the population have what it takes for this duration

A 3-minute ice bath duration is the perfect introductory ice bath duration for someone who is new to cold water immersion, and is looking to up their physical recovery, and challenge their mental fortitude.

You can still get great benefits from a 3-minute ice bath, especially if doing this duration allows you to perform it with greater frequency.

5-Minute Ice Bath Duration

  • Intermediate Mode
  • Good Physical Benefits
  • Strong Mental Benefits
  • 50% of the population have what it takes for this duration

The 5-Minute ice bath duration is perfect for the individual that is an intermediate ice bath practitioner. We generally find anywhere between 3-5 minutes is when an individual will start shivering in an ice bath, so it is with this duration that you have finally stepped up in the world. Expect improved recovery, and the mental fortitude of a certified badass.

Many people can stomach a 1-minute or 3-minute ice bath, but the percentage of population that can hit the 5-minute mark is increasingly smaller.

7-Minute Ice Bath Duration

  • Advanced Mode
  • Fantastic Physical Benefits
  • Formidable Mental Benefits
  • 20% of the population have what it takes for this duration

Alright, if you have made it this far, you are a certified ice bath bad ass.

The 7-minute ice bath duration is perfect for the hardened ice bath veteran. Either that, or you are that Type A personality that doesn't like to do things in halves. 

A 7-minute ice bath duration is tough going and definitely requires a different level of resolve to accomplish. We find that only 10-15% of people will be able to stomach an ice bath for this length.

10+ Minute Ice Bath Duration

  • Expert Mode
  • Enormous Physical Benefits
  • Maximal Mental Benefits
  • 5% of the population have what it takes for this duration

If you can make it this far in an ice bath, you are a certified ice bath expert. The 10+ minute ice bath duration is only for the real Gs of the ice bath world, the David Goggins-esque individuals. In our experience, only 1-5% of people can stomach an ice bath that is 10+ minutes in duration. At this length of ice bath, you have massively increased the level of benefits you will accrue both mentally and physically.

Physically, you will have massively reduced any forthcoming recovery times if you can last out in the ice bath for this long. For some reason there seems to be an exponential increase in physical benefits accrued by ice baths that equal or exceed 10 minutes in length.

Mentally, it is much of a muchness really. The body starts to become so numb at this point that the mental game has plateaued out and it's more a matter of, how good are you at dealing with boredom?

Table Outlining Different Ice Bath Durations and Their Corresponding Characteristics

Duration (minutes) Difficulty Physical Benefits (x/10) Mental Benefits (x/10) Percentile 
1 Beginner 1 2 5%
3 Easy 3 5 30%
5 Intermediate 5 7 50%
7 Advanced 7 9 80%
10+ Expert 10 10 95%

Added Bonus Points

For added bonus points, you can do any of the following:

  • Keep your hands submerged in the icy water: for real, this is for the ice bath Gs only. Keeping your hands submerged throughout the duration of the ice bath is proper advanced tactics.
  • Make slight movements every so often: we find that sitting completely still in the ice bath is definitely the way to make the ice bath as easy as possible. It is almost as if a thin layer of warmth from your body heat starts to form around your body if you can remain still and motionless for a period of time. Because any slight movements always seem to send a strike of coldness straight down your spine.
  • Finish off with a head dunk: why not take it to the nth degree, and finish off the last 10-30 seconds of your ice bath with your head submerged. It will be a sure fire way to improve your friends but FYI, we hope you enjoy your brain freeze.


We hope this comprehensive guide on different ice bath duration times will help guide you on your ice bathing wellness journey!


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