Wim Hof is known as “The Iceman” for good reason. He has a peculiar ability to withstand freezing temperatures for long periods of time — whether submerged in freezing water, covered in ice cubes, while running marathons, or while climbing mountains. What’s perhaps most impressive, is he broke his first record at 40.
Already know about this specimen of a human? If so, feel free to skip to the bottom of the article to check out “The Wim Hof Method” — the breathing technique he attributes to his unhuman endurance.
As mentioned, Wim set his first world record at 40 years old. It happened in 2000, for the fastest swim under ice (that’s right, underneath a frozen section of water). This incredibly dangerous stunt took place at a lake in Finland.
In 2007, Wim ran the fastest half-marathon. Even while barefoot on ice and snow, Wim took only 2 hours, 16 minutes, and 34 seconds. He’s also set the world record for the longest time completely covered in ice, a total of 16 times — the longest and most recent being 1 hour and 53 minutes, back in 2013.
Wim may sound like he’s gone mad, but there’s a method to his madness. He attributes his superhuman tolerance to freezing temperatures to a combination of cold therapy, breathing, and meditation.
Work with Athletes
Wim has begun working with former UFC heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem, who’s also a K1 and MMA legend. The Iceman helps Alistair improve his breathing techniques and implements some of his methodologies into the fighter’s workout routine.
After a long streak of losses, Alistair regained success with a brutal knockout of his first opponent since adopting Wim’s alternative training techniques.
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As you can see, the benefits are astounding. Now let’s get into the methods to Wim’s madness, the techniques he employs to become superhuman.
To start out easy and dip your toe into cold therapy, start with cold showers.
- Step into a normal shower. When you’re ready, switch the temperature to the coldest setting. Then just stand there for at least ten seconds, with your head directly underneath the shower.
- Switch the temperature back to normal.
- Repeat Step #1.
- As you get more comfortable, increase the time you spend under the cold water, for up to 90 seconds. Some people go for as long as five-to-ten minutes.
Studies show that switching between hot and cold temperatures reduces inflammation in the body and can reduce fatigue.
As you progress in your ability to tolerate cold, you’ll be able to start submerging yourself into ice baths.
This is the practice of mindfulness.
- Begin by selecting a serene or atmospheric soundtrack on your phone. Alternatively, enjoy complete silence somewhere peaceful.
- Now, close your eyes. Allow yourself to clear your mind of all thoughts. If a thought comes, simply observe it, without judgment, and then let it go.
- Breathe. As you inhale, focus on your being. As you exhale, release any thoughts you may have in your mind.
- Practice meditating for 10-20 minutes a day.
Research shows that meditating is an effective way to reduce stress and improve overall mental health.
Breathing Exercises — “The Wim Hof Method”
This technique helps Wim deal with cold temperatures for extended periods of time.
- Controlled hyperventilation. Take a deep breath in. Fill your lungs with air fully. Then gently exhale. Don’t force your breath out all the way. Repeat this 30 times in succession. Wim cautions that you may get a tingly sensation or feel some light-headedness from this exercise.
- Exhalation. Now, take another deep breath in, but this time exhale forcefully to empty your lungs of air fully. Now hold that deep exhalation for as long as possible.
- Breath retention. When you can’t hold the exhalation any longer, take another deep breath in and hold for 15-20 seconds. You may get another bout of light-headedness.
Get Your Hof On
Now don’t go out and swim under a frozen lake. Unless you’re highly trained and under tight supervision, don’t even consider it.
But what you can do, though, is use Wim Hof’s techniques to bring a new spark to your day, or before difficult mental tasks or workouts. Cold showers are a great way to snap you into action in the morning, and meditation is the perfect way to unwind in the evening.
I can personally vouch for The Wim Hof Method. It can sharpen your mind and give you a mental boost all throughout your day, whenever you need it.