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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2019 Sep 12. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00127.2019. [Epub ahead of print]

Cold water immersion attenuates anabolic signalling and skeletal muscle fiber hypertrophy, but not strength gain, following whole-body resistance training.

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Centre for Sport Research (CSR), School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, Australia.
Institute for Health and Sport, Victoria University, Australia.
Institute of Sport Exercise and Active Living, Victoria University, Australia.
Department of Exercise and Sport Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, United States.
Faculty of Health, Sport and Human Performance, University of Waikato, New Zealand.
Exercise, Muscle and Metabolism Unit, Deakin Univrsity, Australia.
School of Behavioral and Health Sciences, Australian Catholic University, Australia.
School of Behaviournal and Health Sciences, Queensland University of Technology, Australia.
Institute for Health and Sport (iHeS), Victoria University, Australia.



We determined the effects of CWI on long-term adaptations and post-exercise molecular responses in skeletal muscle before and after resistance training.


Sixteen males (22.9 ± 4.6 y; 85.1 ± 17.9 kg; mean ± SD) performed resistance training (3 d·wk-1) for 7 wk, with each session followed by either CWI (15 min at 10°C, COLD group, n = 8) or passive recovery (15 min at 23°C, CON group, n = 8). Exercise performance [one-repetition maximum (1-RM) leg press and bench press, countermovement jump, squat jump and ballistic push-up], body composition (dual x-ray absorptiometry), and post-exercise (i.e., +1 and +48 h) molecular responses were assessed before and after training.


Improvements in 1-RM leg press were similar between groups [130 ±69 kg, pooled effect size (ES): 1.53; ±90% confidence interval (CI) 0.49], while increases in type II muscle fiber cross-sectional area were attenuated with CWI (-1959 µM2; ±1675; ES: -1.37; ±0.99). Post-exercise mTORC1 signalling (rps6 phosphorylation) was blunted for COLD at POST +1 h (-0.4-fold, ES: -0.69; ±0.86) and POST +48 h (-0.2-fold, ES: -1.33; ±0.82), while basal protein degradation markers (FOX-O1 protein content) were increased (1.3-fold, ES: 2.17; ±2.22). Training-induced increases in HSP27 protein content were attenuated for COLD (-0.8-fold, ES, -0.94 ±0.82), which also reduced total HSP72 protein content (-0.7-fold, ES: -0.79, ±0.57).


CWI blunted resistance training-induced muscle fiber hypertrophy, but not maximal strength, potentially via reduced skeletal muscle protein anabolism and increased catabolism. Post-exercise CWI should therefore be avoided if muscle hypertrophy is desired.


Cold water immersion; adaptation; anabolism; catabolism; resistance training

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