Wim Hof Method Explained & Benefits of Cold Exposure

The Wim Hof Method

Wim Hof Method

Ok so let’s cut straight to the chase and tell you that the Wim Hof Method is a particular mental and physiological training technique taught by the man himself, Wim Hof.

His training incorporates 3 main pillars of training, which include “breathing”, “meditation” and “cold exposure”.

These 3 pillars will enable you to ultimately manipulate your immune system to be able to better adapt to situations when your body is under stress, whether that be from sickness, harsh environmental elements or other stresses.

The theory behind the Wim Hof Method is that as the average human goes about their day-to-day lives they are simply not exposing their bodies to particular environments, which would allow the body to withstand and adapt to such stress. Wim Hof also claims that we are not drawing in enough oxygen into our system as we go about our daily lives. This means that we are no able to alkalize our body to its maximum potential.

Through Wim Hof’s training he will have you performing a certain style of controlled hyperventilation which induces a greater flow of oxygen into the system which is then better stored in the bodies blood, cells and organs. Ultimately, this has an alkalising effect on the body which as you may know can reduce inflammation within the body and subsequently prevent the bodies from suffering from debilitating conditions caused by too much inflammation in the body.

Wim Hof Vice Documentary Video

Wim Hof’s popularity and exposure to the online world exploded recently after he took part in a well conducted documentary by Vice. Check out the documentary below if you have the time to watch – it’s definitely an entertaining watch.

Who is Wim Hof?

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Wim Hof aka “The Iceman” was born in 1959 in the southern part of the Netherlands called Stittard. He is predominantly known for is daredevil stunts, world record feeds and his ability to endure unimaginable feats whilst being exposed to extremely cold conditions.

As whim describes, in his interview with Dr Rhonda Patrick, he was never a star student at school and he never left School to pursue a career in psychology, science or any other holistic or research discipline. He does however explain that from an early age in his mid teens that he was always interested in human behaviour and issues surrounding psychology.

There is certainly a sad and unfortunate twist to Wim’s life in that his wife to which he has five children to sadly committed suicide a number of years ago that left him and his family heartbroken. Whilst always having a very keen interest in holistic living it was the passing of his beloved wife, which really put him on a mission to try and spread general human happiness throughout the world.

Wim Hof began to live life to certain extremes and seeking to partake in a certain style of living that enables his mind and body to become as some have described “superhuman”. Through his style of training Wim Hof has been able to devise a program which allows us to tap into our inner most primal make-up as an animal to withstand environmental, physiological and physiological changes or conditions which our bodies can be exposed to.

In order to demonstrate to himself and the world at large exactly how his training method can achieve “superhuman” results he has taken part in a whole range of unimaginable daredevil style feats to ultimately prove how his method can train the human body to adapt itself to extreme conditions such as cold, hot or high altitude exposure.

Some of these incredible feats and world records are most definitely worth mentioning.

Wim Hof’s World Records

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There is no denying that Wim Hof is a gifted and special individual and his proven this time after time again by completing extremely difficult feats and subsequently holding up to 20 world records for particular feats and extreme events which many of us would think was impossible.

Many of these unimaginable feats which Wim Hof holds world records for generally involve exposing his body to some of the harshest and coldest elements that one could think of.

Wim Hof & Mount Everest

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In 2007 climbed up most of the way up to Mt Everest in nothing but shorts and shoes. He climbed a total of 6.7 km (22,000 feet) up Mt Everest however unfortunately failed to reach the summit because he sustained an ongoing foot injury. Whilst he was unable to reach the summit his feat in climbing 22,000 of the 29,000 in some of the coldest and harshest conditions on the face of this planet are almost unfathomable. Many a man has failed to reach the summit due to altitude sickness or hypothermia whilst being well layered in highly engineered mountaineering gear. Yet Wim Hof’s training enabled his body to withstand some of the most extreme and cold conditions in almost no clothing.

Wim Hof & The Longest Ice Bath

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In 2008 Wim Hof went ahead and broke his previous record of the longest period of time submerged in an ice bath by recording a time of 1 hour 13 minutes and 48 seconds. This feat was recorded in the Guinness Book of Records and Wim Hof still holds its record today. He has since broken that record and now holds the longest time record for being submerged in an ice bath of 1 hours and 52 minutes. Just incredible!

 

Wim Hof & Mount Kilimanjaro

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In February 2009 Hof reached the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in his shorts within two days.

 

Wim Hof & the Arctic Circle Full Marathon

In 2009 Hof completed a full marathon (42.195 kilometres (26.219 mi)), above the arctic circle in Finland, in temperatures close to −20 °C (−4 °F). Dressed in nothing but shorts, Hof finished in 5 hours and 25 minutes.

 

Wim Hof & the Namib Desert Full Marathon

In September 2011, Hof also ran a full marathon in the Namib Desert without water. The run was performed under the supervision of Dr. Thijs Eijsvogels (a witch doctor).

 

List of Wim Hof Other Records

  • Faster half marathon barefoot on ice/snow (16hrs & 34 minutes) in Oulo, Finland.
  • Officially swam underneath the ice for a distance of 66 meters & unofficially swam under the ice for a distance of 120 meters after having taken only 1 breath.
  • Performed a hanging exercise with 1 finger at 2000 meters altitude.

 

There are various other records that Wim Hof has broken in his attempts to show the world how his style of training can see the human body perform the most incredible acts and adapt to and endure some of planet earths harshest elements.

Many of Wim’s world record breaking feats are absolutely incredible and ground breaking in their own right however it is the record of him remaining in the ice bar for 1 hour and 52 minutes which really does represent a method behind all of this madness.

That is The Wim Hof Method!

Reason being is that the ice bath record that Wim Hof holds just shows how he can train his body to withstand extremely long period of cold exposure without his core temperature dropping to dangerously low levels.

So what is the Wim Hof Method, how does it work and what’s involved, well let’s take a good look.

 

Really What Is The Wim Hof Method?

Wim Hof Method Pillars

The team over at Renegade Pharmacist have put together probably one of the best infographics floating around on the internet which clearly shows what physiological effects the Wim Hof Method training techniques have on the body after training has taken place.

wim hof method - 1 hour after

The Wim Hof Method focuses on 3 pillars of training including breathing techniques, meditation and cold exposure.

Wim Hof Breathing Techniques

Breathing techniques are a significant part of the overall training method taught by Wim Hof. Oxygenating the body in order to better alkalize the blood, cells and organs allows us to de-stress and gain feelings of euphoria. To perform this you can either sit down or lay down and take in some very deep breathes and then exhale the breath as quickly as you can. This needs to be repeated over and over again and soon you will actually notice a tingling sensation and light headedness which just shows that drawing more oxygen into your system does have an immediate physiological effect. Other effects and benefits gained from the breathing techniques in the Wim Hof Method include:

  • How to Reach profound levels of relaxation and piece of mind
  • How to Feel energized and full of life within minutes
  • How to Boost your body’s alkalinity and reduce inflammation for super fast recovery
  • How to Release natures own “Prozac” AKA “happy hormones” through deep breath
  • How to Experience deep meditative states of mind quickly and easily
  • How to Get rid of stress and relieve worries

 

Wim Hof Stretching & Exercise Techniques

 

  • How to Get a flexible, lean, and strong body
  • How to Optimize the blood flow throughout
    your muscles and joints
  • How to Improve flexibility, strength, balance and posture
  • Learn specialized exercises to “hack your body” for deep inner and outer physical, mental, and emotional growth
  • How to Activate the body to free the mind and experience deep inner peace
  • How to Get rid of physical blockages that may have been draining your energy and causing sickness

 

Cold Shower Therapy (CST)

The first time I heard about the benefits of cold exposure on the body was a few of years ago when I read a blog post over at the Blog of Impossible Things by Joel Runyon. If I recall correctly his blog post  was more focused on having cold morning showers for 30 days in a row in order change a persons overall thinking towards all things in life. The point of it really being that if you can put yourself into an extremely uncomfortable situation like a cold shower first thing in the morning then you will mentally prepare yourself for various other challenges that life throws at you. The idea is to overcome the mental fear of an uncomfortable situation and you can train your mind by competing the CST Challenge.

Whilst cold morning showers can create these obvious mental benefits they will also provide you with some evident physiological benefits.

Throughout the Wim Hof Method Training Course you will learn the following training techniques involving Cold Exposure:

  • How to Train your cardio vascular system for better blood flow and circulation
  • How to Use the power of cold water to maximize your energy levels
  • How to Lower your heart rate, banish stress, and feel more relaxed
  • How to Build courage as you embrace and overcome fear of the unknown
  • How to Get rid of cold hands and feet
  • How to Experience deeper, higher quality sleep at night & awaken full of energy
  • How to Boost your immune system, feel stronger, and become an enhanced version of yourself

Many of these training techniques that form part of the Wim Hof Method make some quite outlandish claims for the overall physical and mental benefit of the human body. Wim Hof understands that these claims are quite outlandish and has sought to validate them through scientific research.

Wim Hof Method Program

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Science behind the Wim Hof Method?

By incorporating the 3 pillars of the Wim Hof Method, namely breathing exercises, meditation and repeated exposure to cold elements then we have the ability to activate our autonomic nervous system whilst inhibiting our innate immune system. Previously it was believed that our ability to manipulate our autonomic nervous system and innate immune system was not possible, that is of course until Wim Hof came along and exhibited results, which astonished scientists at Radboud University.

In an article published in the PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) scientific journal the following was researched and subsequently found:

“The present study demonstrates that, through practicing techniques learned in a short-term training program, the sympathetic nervous system and immune system can indeed be voluntarily influenced. Healthy volunteers practicing the learned techniques exhibited profound increases in the release of epinephrine, which in turn led to increased production of anti-inflammatory mediators and subsequent dampening of the pro-inflammatory cytokine response elicited by intravenous administration of bacterial endotoxin.

This study could have important implications for the treatment of a variety of conditions associated with excessive or persistent inflammation, especially autoimmune diseases in which therapies that antagonize pro-inflammatory cytokines have shown great benefit.”

It understood that a healthy and well functioning immune system will prevent the human body from bacteria, viruses or other pathogens that can cause disease. However, when the immune system is compromised then it can lead to serious and debilitating diseases like rheumatism.

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Our ability to voluntarily manipulate or change our immune system or our autonomic nervous system has previously been understood to be an impossibility. In any event, scientist Dr. Matthijs Kox and Professor Peter Pickkers through their research and investigations were able to show that through specific training techniques just like the ones that Wim Hof advocates then a person is potentially able to change their autonomic nervous system and the immune system to withstand certain levels of inflammatory proteins.

 

Testing The Wim Hof Method

In order to add any value to claims that relate to some form of medicinal or scientific purpose then of course controlled testing of such claims is paramount to giving validity to any such claims.

As a part of the scientific testing of The Wim Hof Method we saw the Ice Man himself train and educate 12 healthy young males for a period of 10 days. Much of the training of these 12 subjects took place in extremely cold regions of Poland where focus was put on training techniques surrounding breathing exercises, meditation and cold exposure in the snow and icy waters of these cold regions. Exactly the same training techniques used in the Wim Hof Method.

After Wim Hof trained the 12 subjects for a period of 10 days they were then put through a series of tests conducted by researchers at Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands.

In order to truly see what effects the Wim Hof Training Method had on the subjects a further 12 subjects who were also healthy males were put through the same testing as the other 12 subjects that had not completed the Wim Hof Training Method. This type of controlled testing would allow researchers to better analyse the difference in results between the Wim Hof trained subjects verse the subjects who had received no Wim Hof training.

Ultimately, the basis of the scientific testing involved injecting all of the 24 subjects with an endotoxicin, which contained a component from the cell wall of bacteria that evokes a reaction from the bofies immune system.

One of the researchers involved in study, Pickkers, explained exactly how the injection of the endotoxin into their subjects would have an effect on their body.

Pickkers:

“By administering a dead bacterial component we are actually fooling the body. The immune system responds as if living bacteria are present in the blood stream and produces inflammatory proteins. As a result of this the subjects develop symptoms such as fever and headache. We can therefore use this approach to investigate the immune system of humans.

The results that they were able to verify showed that the subjects who had trained under the whim half method produced a greater amount of the hormone epinephrine. This was a remarkable discovery from the tests that were conducted as explained by one of the other researchers Kox who discusses the effect of stress hormones through the experience:

Kox discusses the Stress Hormone: 

“The trained men produced more of the hormone epinephrine as a result of the techniques they had learned.” Epinephrine is a stress hormone that is released during increased activity of the sympathetic nervous system and it suppresses the immune response. “We indeed observed that in the trained subjects the release of inflammatory proteins was attenuated and that they experienced far less flu-like symptoms.”

 

Although spoken in dutch (with English sub-titles) researchers Kox and Pickkers discuss the basis of their research in the short video below:

Dr Rhonda Patrick & Wim Hof Interview

I first came across Dr Rhonda Patrick on the Tim Ferriss Podcast and then on the Joe Rogan Experience (Podcast) and this is a woman who does her stuff from a modern medical and scientific standpoint. So what better person other than Dr Rhonda Patrick, of Found My Fitness, to conducted an interview with Wim Hof to really get down to business in understanding how his training techniques can have a significant effect on bettering your health, bolstering your immune system and becoming as some have suggested “superhuman”.

Whilst in the above analysis we have focused more on the scientific research conducted at Radboud University in the Netherlands, it is certainly a good idea to take a look at the video below which sees Dr Rhonda Patrick take a more in depth look at how effective the Wim Hof Method and training techniques can be on the body from a scientific and medical point of view.

Wim Hof Method Review & Benefits

  • Boost Your Immune System To Bulletproof Yourself And Feel Fully Charged
  • Become A “Super” Version Of Yourself In Just 10 Short, Life Transforming Weeks
  • Learn Ancient Techniques In Combination With Modern Cutting Edge Strategies
    To Increase Your Health And Wellbeing
  • Hack Your Body Using Cold Therapy To Feel Energized During The Day,
    While Sleeping Like A Baby At Night”

What The Wim Hof Method Course Offers

  • Step-by-step 10 week video program taught in person by The Iceman Wim Hof
  • Workbook to track your amazing results over the 10 week period with precision and clarity
  • Life Time Access. Follow the program on your own pace
  • Available on all devices (mobile, tablet, desktop computers). Access the training anywhere!
  • Exclusive access to the Wim Hof Method Facebook community (over 11,000+ members so far). Ask questions, share your experiences or just hang out with like minded people.

Wim Hof Method Program

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Joshua Boorman
We aim to provoke your conscious thought and discuss all topics to help you live more meaningful and purposeful lives.
Joshua Boorman

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Joshua Boorman

We aim to provoke your conscious thought and discuss all topics to help you live more meaningful and purposeful lives.