Wim Hof Method: My Review, Benefits, and The Science!

Man going into a lake to practice the Wim Hof Method

Wim Hof the Iceman, is renowned for his incredible feats of cold endurance. At the moment, he holds 26 world records, including being in ice for 1 hour and 52 minutes and climbing to the summit of Mount Everest in nothing but a pair of shorts!

Due to his ability to withstand extreme conditions, Wim Hof quickly caught attention from the media and now teaches other people his techniques – also known as “The Wim Hof Method”. Wim claims that by following his technique, you too can surpass your limits.

In this post, I’m going to explain what Wim Hof Method is, what benefits you can expect from doing it, what the science says about it, how to do it, and my own personal experience doing the Wim Hof Method.

Let us dive straight in!

What is Wim Hof Method?

The Wim Hof Method was developed by the Iceman himself. The method is derived from what Wim calls “hard nature” as he trained his body, mind, and spirit in harsh natural environments, such as under conditions of extreme cold for prolonged periods of time.

The Wim Hof Method is really simple and effective.

The method consists of three powerful pillars:

  1. Breathing Exercises – Doing specific Wim Hof breathing exercises results in controlled hyperventilation, which science says has numerous health benefits.
  2. Unforced, Gradual Cold Exposure   – Cold exposure is another crucial part of the Wim Hof Method. Although Wim takes it to the extreme, his body has been used to it from years of practice. He’s the first one to tell you not to ‘dive in’ – instead, gradually build up your resistance to cold. More on this below!
  3. Focus/Mindset TechniquesMeditation is a fundamental part of doing the breathing exercises correctly, as well as exposing yourself to cold. Wim Hof’s meditation is similar to pranayama and Tibetan Tummo meditation, in the sense that it helps you focus your mind and be in ‘the now’.

Each of these 3 pillars has been separately studied but the Wim Hof Method is the first to combine them together, which, according to the latest evidence, provides far greater physiological and psychological effects.

Many renowned researchers and academic institutions are currently investigating WHM. This pending research could change how modern health looks at disease prevention, giving us humans more control over our health, strength, and well-being.

How Does Wim Hof Method Work?

1. Breathing Oxygenates the Body

Your breathing is a process regulated by your autonomic nervous system. Although breathing is primarily an unconscious activity, you can control it to some extent to regulate your physiology.

At first, you may not be too aware of your breath. But through practice, you can ‘strengthen’ your awareness to manipulate the breath to your advantage.

The Wim Hof Breathing techniques do exactly that. When you’re inhaling, you’re inhaling fast and deeply. And when you’re exhaling, you’re just letting the breath go – without needing to force the exhalation.

By doing this, you’re saturating your blood levels with oxygen while getting rid of carbon dioxide. Doing deep breathing in this way can improve your memory and serotonin release.

  • In the second step of the process of Wim Hof Breathing (explained in detail below), the oxygen moves from your blood into your tissues, resulting in enhanced physiological and mental function.

The Wim Hof Breathing is a cardiovascular-type of exercise. It strengthens your arteries and other blood vessels, improving their function in the process.

If you typically have cold hands and feet, then you should notice massive benefits from this type of exercise as it improves circulation to your extremities.

2. Cold Exposure Improves Metabolic Efficiency

The Wim Hof Method Cold exposure triggers something known as ‘fat browning’. This is a process where your white fat cells turn into baby brown fat cells.

  • White fatty tissue cushions and protects your organs. However, it also accumulates easily in excess and is hard to get rid off.

Too much white fatty tissue is detrimental to health. It increases your stress hormones, it reduces healthy hormones like testosterone and estrogen, and can contribute to the development of various diseases.

  • Brown fat, on the other hand, is much more metabolically active.

Brown fat is full of mitochondria cells – your body’s power plants that produce energy. As a result, it produces a lot of heat and gets burned off easily.

By doing The Wim Hof Method Cold Showers, you’re generating more mitochondria and brown fat cells throughout your body, which will give you more energy and resistance to cold.

Cold showers, much like WHM breathing, improve your cardiovascular strength too – increasing oxygen and nutrient supply to your vital tissues and organs.

3. WHM Meditation Focuses the Mind

Doing specific breathing exercises shown by Wim Hof, as well as practicing daily meditation contributes to increased levels of focus.

If you’re new to the Wim Hof Method, you may find the cold exposure part too daunting. Those first few seconds of cold water hitting your skin can be extremely hard to bear.

The Wim Hof Method involves focusing on your breath and body, which is a form of meditation that teaches you to withstand increased levels of stress and be fully in the moment.

This will, in turn, make it easier to withstand cold showers.

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Wim Hof Method – The Science

Wim Hof has worked with researchers to prove that his techniques actually work for health and well-being.

Currently, there are a number of pending studies looking into the physical and mental effects of the Wim Hof Method.

Scientists are finding evidence that Wim’s techniques (breathing, cold exposure) affect pain, inflammation and metabolic activity.

Here are some of the most impressive studies on the WHM we currently have.

Study #1: Wim Hof Method Reduces Inflammation

Wim Hof was once in a study where he was injected with a dead endotoxin. This endotoxin, although harmless, causes an inflammatory reaction in the body of a normal person – resulting in fever. However, Wim Hof was able to control his body’s inflammatory response to this endotoxin, showing no symptoms.

  • A few years later, a 2014 study from Radboud University wanted to see if they could replicate the same results with a larger group of people. They took 12 Wim Hof Method practitioners. They injected them with the endotoxin.

The results showed that these people, like Wim, were able to control their immune response and sympathetic nervous system. 

Incredibly, the participants’ anti-inflammatory markers were ~200% higher, while their pro-inflammatory markers were ~50% lower!

Scientists believe that these findings could have especially important implications in people who suffer from chronic inflammation, including autoimmune conditions.

What’s more, Wim Hof Method Practitioners showed fewer flu-like symptoms in general, and also had higher plasma epinephrine levels.

Study #2: Wim Hof Method Improves Resistance to Pain and Stress

This study was conducted by Wayne State University, Michigan in 2018. It’s also called the ‘Brain Over Body’ study.

The goal was to understand the brain function that enables Wim to endure extreme conditions, such as swimming under the ice.

Researchers put Wim in a special temperature-measuring suit and placed in both a PET and fMRI scanner during cold exposure.

The images showed activation in areas of the brain linked to well-being, self-reflection, and pain suppression.

According to scientists, these findings could explain why repeated cold exposure boosts mood and mental fortitude.

Study #3: Wim Hof Method for High Altitude Adaptation

This 2014 study looked into the effectiveness of the Wim Hof Method to inhibit symptoms of acute mountain sickness (AMS).

The researchers recruited 26 trekkers with little to no previous experience in climbing mountains. The trekkers set out to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Some of them had a history of Multiple Sclerosis, cancer metastasis, and other conditions. Impressively 24 of them managed tor each the summit without developing any significant symptoms of AMS.

The study researchers suggested that the Wim Hof Method could be useful in preventing Acute Mountain Sickness and even reverse symptoms that develop while climbing to high altitudes.

Wim Hof Method Benefits

For a full list of Wim Hof Method benefits, check their official website. Here, we’ll look at some of the key ones.

Here are the 10 benefits of the Wim Hof Method:

1. More Energy

The Wim Hof Method increases the number and the efficiency of mitochondria in your body, which results in improved ATP energy levels.

2. Stronger Immune System

Clinical research shows evidence that the practitioners of the Wim Hof Method have a superior immune response to foreign invaders compared to others.

3. Less Inflammation

Inflammation is your body’s natural way of fighting harmful stimuli that can cause infections in injury. Inflammation is crucial for survival, yet, chronic inflammation is linked to a host of illnesses that shorten life. These include high blood pressure, blood sugar problems, arthritis, anxiety and others. A growing number of people have successfully used the Wim Hof Method to reduce inflammation in their body and brain – reducing symptoms like joint pain and mood swings.

4. Deeper Sleep

Most people who practice the WHM report improvement in their sleep quality, as well as feel refreshed upon waking up the next day.

5. Improved Athletic Recovery

If you’re looking to improve your sports performance, the Wim Hof Method could be a very useful tool. Since it reduces inflammation, you’ll be able to train harder and recover faster. Your performance will also improve due to increased levels of mitochondria in your cells.

6. More Efficient Metabolism

The Wim Hof Method, particularly the cold exposure part, primes your body to be more efficient in making energy. To generate more heat, your body creates more brown fat cells, which burns quite a few calories along the way! Your metabolic rate also increases, further contributing to increased caloric expenditure and keeping you lean.

7. Relieves Stress

The Wim Hof Method is known to induce a biological process known as ‘hardening,’ making you more resistant to stress. Practicing meditation, breathing exercise, and cold exposure regularly will help relieve tension from your body and mind.

8. Burnout and Adrenal Fatigue Recovery

The Wim Hof Method reduces cortisol levels, which are associated with increased adrenal exertion. Over time, chronically high cortisol can lead to adrenal burnout. The Wim Hof Method can help boost your adrenal function and provide you with more energy throughout the day.

Important to note: Be sure to talk with a qualified MD before doing the WHM if you have adrenal burnout and other similar symptoms. Exposure to cold can make your adrenal fatigue symptoms worse because it forces the already-burnt-out body to produce more of the stress hormones (adrenaline and noradrenaline).

9. Brighter Mood

Depressed people who start with the Wim Hof Method often report a diminishment in some of their symptoms. The WHM increases the production of endorphins in your nervous system, which are associated with a reduction in pain, stress, as well as an increase in happiness.

10. Improved Willpower & Concentration

Increasing willpower is something you should strive for if you want to become the best version of yourself. A lot of people report a huge boost in focus after doing the Wim Hof Method. Over the long-term, these people often report having a stronger mindset overall.

Wim Hof Method Review: My Personal Experience

Being able to withstand the freezing cold, regulate my immune system, and rock short sleeves out in the winter sounded awesome when I first heard of the Wim Hof Method… but what benefits did I actually experience?

Believe it or not, it took a while before I actually pulled the trigger and started the Wim Hof Method. I was a skeptic at first like most people would be. My mind made excuses like “This probably won’t work for me,” or “this must be a total scam.”

Well… I was wrong!

Amazingly, after the first session of breathing exercises, meditation and exposure to cold I noticed a massive shift in my mental state. I can only describe it as feeling 100% awake, rested and energized. My brain fog disappeared, my productivity skyrocketed, and my mood shifted from ‘bleh’ to happy and motivated to get the day started!

It was at this point I realized that the Wim Hof Method could be a game-changer for me.

As I continued to use the Wim Hof Method, I started to notice more and more positive effects on my body and mind.

Here are some of the biggest ones:

  1. My sleep has improved dramatically. This is probably the biggest long-term benefit I got from the Wim Hof Method. I typically need a Valerian root or a melatonin supplement to keep me asleep all night without interruptions. After starting the WHMF I noticed that I fall asleep faster, I don’t wake up in the middle of the night anymore, and I feel much less groggy in the morning. The knock-on benefits of having better sleep are even more awesome (better creativity, improved emotional stability, faster muscle recovery, etc.)!
  2. I have more “clean” energy. Many people rely on caffeine to get them through their day. The issue with this is the short-lasting effects of caffeine which typically end in a ‘crash’ or anxiety or jitters. Doing the Wim Hof Method daily has me feeling energized throughout the whole day, without the highs and lows that are typically associated with stimulants.
  3. Enhanced mental clarity. I struggled with brain fog since I was a kid. After trying numerous things to fix it, I realized that a proper diet and regular exercise routine are fundamental to clear headspace. I usually take nootropics to help with this too. Now that I’ve learned about the Wim Hof Method I use it whenever I feel brain fog coming on.
  4. I feel happier. A bulk of my work involves traveling, working long hours in front of a computer, and meeting deadlines for clients. All of this, combined with my personal life, can often be stressful, causing me to feel ‘burn out’. I’m happy to say that the Wim Hof Method has made me much more resilient to everyday stressors – they don’t affect me nearly as much as before, and I feel livelier and more optimistic in general.

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What do Others Say About the Wim Hof Method?

If you look it up online, you’ll see countless positive reviews on the Wim Hof Method. Very rarely a negative one pops up.

From Youtube videos and comments, forum discussions, social media posts to even in the real world, you’ll see a lot of people praising the WHM and how it helped them with different issues.

You can also find plenty of Wim Hof Method reviews on Reddit – in fact, they have a whole ‘subreddit’ dedicated to the Iceman!

How to do the Wim Hof Method Correctly (A Complete Guide)

Before doing the Wim Hof Method, make sure you’re in a comfortable and safe place. Don’t do the WHM if you’re:

  • Driving
  • Standing up
  • Underwater
  • Suffering from any kind of condition

Of course, you should always seek approval from your MD if you plan to start the Wim Hof Method.

I recommend you watch this video and follow the instructions there. This is the best free guide on Wim Hof Breathing narrated by the Iceman himself. If you want more, you’ll need to pay.

With that being said, here is the basic outline on how to do the Wim Hof Method:

  • Sitting in a comfortable position, take 30 quick deep breaths. It doesn’t matter whether your breathe through your nose or mouth. On your 30th breath, exhale and hold until you feel the urge to breathe. Inhale again, deeply, and hold it for 15 seconds. This finishes your first round. Repeat this for 3-10 rounds for optimal benefits.

Combined with daily cold exposure, Wim says that this method will lead to notable health benefits: less stress, more energy, and enhanced immune system. For Wim, it enables seemingly superhuman feats of endurance, brought about, the Iceman says, by the psychological and physiological changes induced by his breathing techniques.

Conclusion

So that concludes my take on the Wim Hof Method – including the benefits, the research & science, and my personal experience and review of the Wim Hof Method!

  • The evidence to support the benefits of the Wim Hof Method is growing, but like with everything, you should not rush into it.

Fainting is not uncommon and therefore it’s important that you use caution while doing the technique – practicing it in a comfortable and safe environment.

While doing the Wim Hof Method, you may feel tingling sensations, lightheadedness, and feelings of euphoria. These are all typical signs that you’re doing it right.

Of course, the standard warnings here still apply. You should be aware of the risk of hypothermia from not practicing the method correctly. Avoid cold exposure after drinking alcohol, consuming a heavy meal, or if you have any kind of condition!

Otherwise, you may find that the Wim Hof Method gives you some incredible day-to-day benefits, just like it did to me!

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