No Ice Ice Baby

Yo, Rocky!  Cool it on the ice baths!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Some post-workout routines are CAH-RAZY. You want to maximize your hard work and get “swole”. Ice baths are thought to improve recovery and conditioning. But, how do ice baths REALLY affect muscle growth?

Enter Luc van Loon and his team from Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands. They asked twelve young men to hit the gym for leg presses and knee extensions. After exercising, each put one leg in ice cold water, the other – body temperature water. Then they chugged a protein drink with special chemical trackers. Yum!

The trackers let researchers see when the body used proteins for muscle-building. This went on for two weeks. Researchers compared muscle tissues from each leg at days one and fourteen.

Verdict? Muscle building was much LOWER in the iced legs!  The researchers think that either reduced blood flow prevented delivery of protein building blocks, OR blocks weren’t being used.

You can still ice SORE muscles. But, to build Schwarzenegger legs, just say “Hasta la Vista, baby” to the ice baths!