Deakin University
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Post-exercise Cold Water Immersion Effects on Physiological Adaptations to Resistance Training and the Underlying Mechanisms in Skeletal Muscle: A Narrative Review

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posted on 2021-04-08, 00:00 authored by A C Petersen, Jackson FyfeJackson Fyfe
Post-exercise cold-water immersion (CWI) is a popular recovery modality aimed at minimizing fatigue and hastening recovery following exercise. In this regard, CWI has been shown to be beneficial for accelerating post-exercise recovery of various parameters including muscle strength, muscle soreness, inflammation, muscle damage, and perceptions of fatigue. Improved recovery following an exercise session facilitated by CWI is thought to enhance the quality and training load of subsequent training sessions, thereby providing a greater training stimulus for long-term physiological adaptations. However, studies investigating the long-term effects of repeated post-exercise CWI instead suggest CWI may attenuate physiological adaptations to exercise training in a mode-specific manner. Specifically, there is evidence post-exercise CWI can attenuate improvements in physiological adaptations to resistance training, including aspects of maximal strength, power, and skeletal muscle hypertrophy, without negatively influencing endurance training adaptations. Several studies have investigated the effects of CWI on the molecular responses to resistance exercise in an attempt to identify the mechanisms by which CWI attenuates physiological adaptations to resistance training. Although evidence is limited, it appears that CWI attenuates the activation of anabolic signaling pathways and the increase in muscle protein synthesis following acute and chronic resistance exercise, which may mediate the negative effects of CWI on long-term resistance training adaptations. There are, however, a number of methodological factors that must be considered when interpreting evidence for the effects of post-exercise CWI on physiological adaptations to resistance training and the potential underlying mechanisms. This review outlines and critiques the available evidence on the effects of CWI on long-term resistance training adaptations and the underlying molecular mechanisms in skeletal muscle, and suggests potential directions for future research to further elucidate the effects of CWI on resistance training adaptations.



Frontiers in Sports and Active Living



Article number

ARTN 660291


1 - 26


Frontiers / Frontiers Media / Frontiers Research Foundation


Lausanne, Switzerland







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal