Contrast Showers 


Tools Used For Contrast Showers

In summary, you need a TIMER

You read the research and are willing to try contrast showers, great! I’m excited for you and the journey you are about to embark on. How do I make this easier on myself? How do I know when to switch from hot to cold and vice versa; also how do I track the time spent on each cycle? Well, you could count inside your head (or out loud, I won’t judge you) but the best way for you to do this is with a timer. And the best type of timer is what’s called an interval timer. This is typically used in high intensity interval trainings (HIIT) like Tabata training where you do a four-minute workout consisting of 8 rounds of 20 seconds of exercises at maximum effort, followed by 10 seconds of rest. Using an interval timer allows you to configure specific time periods in a predetermined sequence; this is exactly what we need for our shower intervals. Here are a few tactical ways to make your contrast shower routines easier with different flavors of timers.

Basic Routine

What does the sequence of a contrast shower look like?

Voice Assistant Based Timer

With the advent of voice assistants, we have more and more speakers all over our house, this includes our bathrooms. Why not use a voice assistant to help you navigate your contrast shower routine.

Mobile Tools

Use your mobile phone to supercharge your contrast shower routines wherever you go.

Hardware Based Timers

Sometimes the best tools are low-tech tools. Check out physical timers that you can take with you anywhere.

Basic Routine

What does a basic routine look like?

The way I see it, you have three levers to play with when creating your own routine. These are: 1) the amount of cycles, 2) the length of each cycle and 3) the intensity of each cycle. Various combinations of these will create a basic contrast shower routine. From the research you can see that many papers call for a three to one (3 to 1) lenght ratio between hot (3) and cold (1). Others call for a minimum of three hot-cold cycles (hot-cold, hot-cold, hot-cold). And the last tidbit is to always finish with cold water. Given those guidelines the biggest return on investment can be seen with the routine pictured above.

Warm wash, then 3 cold-hot cycles and lastly one cold ending

We begin with 5 minutes of warm water, use this time to wash your body as you would regularly. The water should be as warm as you can possibly handle without discomfort. After this we begin our contrast cycles, this is composed by three (30 second) periods of hot water followed by cold water. The cycle ends with a longer (75-90 second) cold cycle.

As you progress in your own personal contrast shower journey, you will find that you can withstand more cycles, longer periods and even colder temperatures. I have made it a personal goal to come up with the best way to create an improvement program like this for myself and others. If you are interested in the same, let me know by filling out this survey and sharing what has worked for you or what you are interested in.

Voice Assistant Based Timer

If you are like me, you probaly already have an Amazon Echo device in your bathroom to listen to news or audiobooks. If you don't, I hope this inspires you to get one as I find leveraging Alexa to help with my contrast routine is sort of a super hack and incredibly easy to do.

Install Our Alexa Skill

If you want to skip making your own Alexa skill, you can do so here and simply Install the Alexa Contrast Shower Skill. You will need an Amazon account and Amazon Echo device.

Learn How To Make Your Our Alexa Skill

As you can see, the steps are very simple. You will need an Amazon account, an Alexa enabled device with a speaker and the website.

Here is a sample of what the Alexa skill interaction feels like (turn your volume up):

Mobile Tools

Web Based Timer (

The easiest way to begin is to use your mobile phone in the shower as an interval timer. Most phones nowadays can withstand a splash or two but since we will be using hot water (which creates steam), I recommend you use a waterproof pouch to keep your phone safe. Here is one of the most popular (and economical) phone pouches if you choose to purchase one: the JOTO Waterproof Pouch Phone Dry Bag Case.

This dry bag fits smartphones up to 6.0" (diagonal size) and it's got a clear pane on both front and back sides. The 100 feet IPX8 certification; offers waterproof / snowproof / dirtproof protection for devices while maintaining touch screen functionality. This comes with a neck strap that you can use to hang from your shower head for handfree use.

Now that you have your phone in a dry bag, you can proceed to navigate to this url. Here you will see a timer with the basic routine described above that looks like this: logo
You can tap on the start button on the bottom right corner of the timer to begin your contrast shower. The timer will go over the basic routine with a 5 second pause in between temperture changes to allow for water to flow from your pipes to your shower head.

After you are done you can pad dry if in a hurry, else let your back and neck area to dry out on its own. Don't forget to take your phone from the pouch before you leave.

App Based Timer (Seconds Pro)

Much like the web based version of the interval timer Seconds Pro is an app that allows you to create your own routines and easily modify or tweak as you progress to longer exposure times. Here's a sample of how a routine on the app works:

If you plan to travel a lot or if your shower is in a place where there is no internet signal, I highly recommend getting this app. Another benefit is that you can share your routines to the website for others to also try them out.

Hardware Based Timers

Sometimes the easiest way is to have a separate product with the sole intention of keeping track of time in both hot and cold phases. Since this device needs to work in the shower, one of the best options is to use a kitchen timer or a gym timer/stopwatch. One of the most popular timers is the Gymboss miniMax Interval Timer (very popular in the HIIT community).

Product Description: The Gymboss miniMAX Interval Timer and Stopwatch is a small, advanced interval timer with an easy to use scrolling menu. With this innovative timer you can time up to 25 different and complex intervals of your choice. You also can save up to 20 programs for future use.
In addition, there is a stopwatch and clock feature built in. The miniMAX is an advanced model, designed for timing extremely complex interval programs consisting of more than 2 different intervals. If your program only has 1 or 2 different intervals you can use the classic Gymboss instead.

Note: Due to the nature of complex intervals this timer is harder to setup than the Classic or Plus model Gymboss and requires more patience to learn how to use it. Here's two videos on how to set your Gymboss miniMAX at home.


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