What is the Wim Hof Method?
Updated: Jan 11
Who is Wim Hof?
Wim “The Iceman” Hof is a Dutch pioneer who became widely known for his extraordinary feats, usually involving physical resilience in the face of extreme temperatures and environments. Over the past 30 years he has set 26 world records, including staying in an ice bath for nearly 2 hours, summiting Mt Kilimanjaro in his shorts, and climbing to the death zone in Mt Everest (7,500m) in nothing but shorts and shoes (no oxygen tank either!). But these feats were simply to gain recognition in the hope that the scientific community would take note and study his method, which he believed had far reaching benefits for physical and mental wellbeing. And eventually science took notice, with a breakthrough study occuring in 2012, showing that Wim was able to control his autonomic nervous system and innate immune response, previously thought to be impossible. Since then, numerous studies have been published studying the ability of Wim, and practitioners of the method, to attenuate their immune response, quell inflammation, improve physical performance, and activate parts of the nervous system which were thought to be out of our control.
The Wim Hof Method is profoundly simple, but simply profound. Based on three pillars; gradual cold exposure, breathing exercises and commitment/mindset, it is the combination of these 3 pillars that provides the greatest benefit to practitioners. Wim’s message is about getting in touch with your own mind and body and learning to trust in your own innate knowledge and wisdom. He believes that the body knows how to respond in difficult situations, but we have lost touch with our internal strength, mainly due to lack of environmental stimulus. Over time, we have developed a different attitude towards nature, separating ourselves from our environment and all the variations that come with it. With modern technology many people don’t experience changes in temperature anymore, the thermostat is set, and our body has lost its ability to deal with change. Wim believes we all have the ability to adapt to extremes and survive within our natural environment. We have become so comfortable and have taken away the type of stressors that force the body to adapt and thrive.
The Wim Hof Method is based on three pillars: Breathwork, Cold Exposure, and Mindset.
The specific breathing exercise results in changes in oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the blood, training the physiology of the body to deal with different extremes. The breathwork component of the method also affords us greater control over the autonomic nervous system. This gives us access to more energy, reduces stress levels, and influences the endocrine and cardiovascular system. Breath is life, and the method teaches us how to truly use the breath to change our body and mind.
Exposure to the cold starts a cascade of health benefits, including the buildup of brown adipose tissue and associated fat loss, reduced inflammation that facilitates a fortified immune system, balanced hormone levels, improved sleep quality, and the release of endorphins. Cold exposure is like interval training for the cardiovascular system, contracting and relaxing the tiny vessels around the 100,000km+ of blood vessels in our body. The cold also teaches us how to improve our response to stressful situations. Can we control our breathing, and therefore our state, while we are in an intense situation? The cold is a training ground, where we can practice a constructive response to stress.
The third pillar of the Wim Hof Method is the foundation of the other two: both cold exposure and conscious breathing require patience and dedication in order to be fully mastered. Armed with focus and determination you are ready to explore your own body and mind. It’s not always easy to turn the shower to cold, or hop into an ice bath, but with each time, you fortify your mental muscle and learn to deal with stress in a different way. Your mind is a muscle. And with the correct exercises you can strengthen your willpower, your confidence and trust in your own capacity.
Think you can’t, and you likely can’t.
Think you can, and you likely can.
Learn to make your mind an ally.
The beauty and power of the Wim Hof Method lies in its simplicity. This method is accessible by all, young and old, CEOs and athletes, those trying to recover from illness and those trying to optimise their health.
The Wim Hof Method will provide you with the tools to access your full potential.