Home Body Cold Showers vs Hot Showers After Workouts: Which One is Better?

Cold Showers vs Hot Showers After Workouts: Which One is Better?

When it comes to a nice, relaxing shower after a hard day, we tend to know exactly what temperature we like it at. Some prefer hot, some prefer cold, others prefer scalding, and more than a few prefer icy.

Cold Showers vs Hot Showers - Man taking a shower after a workout

When it comes to fitness, though, you might be surprised to find out that the temperature of your shower or bath can improve your recovery after a good session at the gym. The question is which is better for your body after workouts: hot showers or cold showers?

Similar debates in the fitness community, ice baths before or after a workouts, cardio before or after lifting weights and cold showers vs hot showers after workouts, are nothing new. That’s because there’s no objectively right answer to these question, as both have their benefits.

Some will stand by the claim that hot showers are the best for relaxing your muscles and clearing your airways after a hard day, while others say that cold showers improve the recovery process.

Here we’ll compare the benefits of cold showers vs hot showers after exercise, giving you the pros, as well as the cons, and discuss how taking hot or cold showers before a workout can also offer a boost to session.


The Benefits of Cold Showers After Workouts

Man in gym waiting for Cold Showers After Workout

Many of us may crave a hot shower to help us unwind, but cold showers may just be worth that initial discomfort. Cold showers don’t just have benefits pertaining to your workouts, but it also generally as well. It soothes itchy skin and really wakes you up in the morning due to the shock of spray against your skin.

For those of you looking to see how a cold shower can benefit your post-workout recovery, here are the ways in which you can benefit.


Reduces Muscle Soreness

After an intense session at the gym, you’ll often find yourself with soreness in your muscles. Even if it’s a sign that your body is making progress in building itself up to its peak potential, it’s still a hassle to deal with.

Cold showers can cause the inflammation in your muscles to decrease significantly. Not only does this relieve the soreness, but it also allows for a quicker recovery time. The problem is, that might impede your progress.


Boosts Weight Loss

Brown fat is a type of fat cell in your body that generates heat by burning fat. This usually happens when your body is exposed to cold conditions, including cold showers. You’ll find brown fat located mainly around your neck and shoulder area, which isn’t at all hard to access in a cold shower. While the fat loss isn’t anything groundbreaking, it can still make a difference for those who are really into sculpting their appearance.


Increases Blood Circulation

Increasing blood circulation is not only good for you post-workout, but also just good in general. A cold shower can cause circulation to constrict in the surface of your body, causing the blood in your deeper tissue to circulate faster so that your body may still maintain its ideal temperature. Not only is this a positive for your body, but it also decreases inflammation, which, as stated before, can reduce muscle soreness.


Increase Testosterone Levels

Cold showers may increase your testosterone levels, you can find more info on the topic here.


The Benefits of Hot Showers After Workouts

Benefits of Hot Showers After Workouts - Man taking a hot shower

Most people prefer a hot shower compared to a cold one, and while cold showers seem to offer more benefits for fitness buffs, you wouldn’t be faulted for preferring a hot shower, instead. Many don’t like the tensing of their body and uncomfortable sting of cold water against them.

Other than just feeling more comfortable, there are actual benefits to having a hot shower over a cold one. Here are a couple.


Relaxes Muscles

After a long workout, you may just want something to help you relax. Hot showers are just the thing you need. Hot showers tend to take out all the tension from your body. This is a great way to help you unwind, and if you’re the type to get some sleep right after a workout, a hot shower can help you accomplish that.


Opens Airways

Using hot steam to open your airways is not at all a new remedy. It’s a great way to get some more air into your lungs, especially if you’ve just got finished with a workout and you’re having a bit of trouble relaxing. You can also get the same airway-opening effect from a sauna, if your gym happens to have one.


The Cons of Cold Showers vs Hot Showers

Cons of Cold Showers vs Hot Showers

While talking about the benefits of cold showers vs hot showers after exercise, it’s also important to point out the cons. These are small little downsides you’ll find when preferring one to the other.


The cons of cold showers include:

  • If you’re sick, a cold shower might be too much for your immune system to handle. While some are able to power through a minor sickness and still get some exercise done (which isn’t recommended), a cold shower might just do you extra harm.
  • If you’re already cold, a cold shower isn’t going to do you any favors. It will cause your body to take even more time to warm up.
  • It increases your heart rate and could have an effect on your blood pressure. If you’re trying to unwind after a hard exercise, a cold shower won’t be able to provide it.
  • The reduction of inflammation may have a negative effect on muscle growth.


The cons of hot showers include:

  • Increased blood pressure is an issue when dealing with hot showers. If you’re already dealing with conditions regarding high blood pressure or hypertension, a scalding shower might just hurt you.
  • Skin issues are something you’ll have to deal with if you’re going to start taking hot showers. They dry out your skin by damaging your keratin cells on the outer layer of your skin, making it hard for them to keep moisture in your body. Hot showers can also cause itchiness, and if you already have a skin condition like eczema, it can only worsen things. If you’re the type to take pride in your appearance and are trying to sculpt your body in the gym, this could be an issue you’ll face.


Should You Take a Shower Before or After Workouts?

Take a Shower Before or After Workouts

While we harped on the idea of taking a hot or cold shower after workouts, there is something to be said about taking a shower before you even start your workout.

While taking showers after an exercise is meant to help you relax or recover, taking showers before a workout can actually give you a bit of a boost in your routine.

That beckons the question: what are the benefits of a cold shower vs a hot shower before a workout? You may be surprised to find that they’re just as impactful as taking a shower after your routine.


Cold Showers

A pre-workout cold shower tends to be a favorite among those who prefer endurance training. An icy shower helps you stay awake and alert before beginning your exercise. In fact, it has an almost caffeine-like effect, so if you aren’t a coffee fan, a cold shower should do the trick.

A cold shower also lowers your core body temperature. Getting overheated takes longer because of this, and because getting overheated saps your stamina at a much faster rate, taking a cold shower will allow you to keep going for quite a bit longer.


Hot Showers

Taking a hot shower before your workout can not only relax your muscles, but you’ll also be able to jump into a warm-up routine a lot easier.

A hot shower will increase blood flow and the elasticity of your connective tissue. You can go into your exercise without stiff muscles and with your blood already pumping. This increases the amount of oxygen traveling through your body, which ultimately leads to a more enhanced performance. Those who prefer strength training tend to take hot showers beforehand just for these reasons.


Final Thoughts

If you ask me which combination is best when it comes to workouts and exercise, I must say that it depends on what kind of exercises you do. People who tend to lean towards strength training may want to do hot showers beforehand and a cold shower afterwards. Meanwhile, someone who is more into endurance training may prefer a cold shower beforehand and a hot shower afterwards.

Think of it as being part of your own tailored exercise routine; you choose what fits your body the best and what you’re most comfortable with. Either way, just be sure you’re staying hydrated and having a safe and productive time at the gym.