Wim Iceman Hof
Wim "Iceman" Hof


Wim Hof nicknamed "The Iceman" for his ability to withstand extreme cold, is the holder of 20 Guinness World Records for withstanding extreme temperatures.


He has climbed Everest and Kilimanjaro in only shorts and shoes, stayed comfortably in ice baths for hours, and run a full marathon in the highest desert (50 degrees celsius, 122 Fahrenheit) with no water & food.  


I became fascinated with breathing techniques from trying to increase free diving depths & during surf coaching encouraging students to focus on breathing techniques before, during, free surfing & competition to de-stress, aid mind & physical preparation.  At the end of this article I have outlined a simple technique you can start to implement now.


Wim attributes his abilities to exposure to cold, meditation and breathing techniques #mindovermatter  Extensive research & testing on the Wim Hof phenomenon conducted by Drs at Yale University School of Medicine (see the study parameters & results sourced link) discovered that such methods caused "voluntary activation of the sympathetic nervous system and attenuation of the innate immune response in humans".  Both the autonomic nervous system and innate immune system were regarded as systems that cannot be voluntarily influenced. 

Wim Iceman Hof Cold therapy lowers oxidative stress
Wim Iceman Hof Cold therapy lowers oxidative stress

The present study demonstrates that, through practicing breathing techniques mixed with cold water immersion, the sympathetic nervous system and immune system can indeed be voluntarily influenced. Healthy volunteers in the study learned the 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.  Increased oxygen retention in the cells leads to a greater state of alkalosis & reduced production of the stress hormone cortisone.  It is well thought of in modern medicine that stress is a major underlying cause of many illnesses. 


Wim Hof method is very simple, deep breath retention slow exhalation & gradual immersion into cold water.  A similar practice of many yogis for thousands of years.

Wim Iceman Hof cold water submersion techniques
Wim Iceman Hof cold water submersion techniques

1) Get comfortable

Sit in a meditation posture, whatever is most comfortable for you. Make sure you can expand your lungs freely without feeling any constriction. It is recommended to do this practice right after waking up since your stomach is still empty or before a meal.


2) 30 Power Breaths

Imagine you’re blowing up a balloon. Inhale through the nose or mouth and exhale through the mouth in short but powerful bursts. Keep a steady pace and use your midriff fully. Close your eyes and do this around 30 times. Symptoms could be light-headedness, tingling sensations in the body.


3) The Hold, retention after exhalation

After the 30 rapid successions of breath cycles, draw the breath in once more and fill the lungs to maximum capacity without using any force. Then let the air out and hold for as long as you can without force. Hold the breath until you experience the gasp reflex.


4) Recovery Breath


Inhale to full capacity. Feel your chest expanding. When you are at full capacity, hold the breath for around 10 seconds and this will be round one. The breathing exercise can be repeated 3 rounds after each other.


5) After having completed the breathing exercise take your time to enjoy the feeling afterward. This feeling will be more and more like a meditation. 


When you start doing these exercises we recommend to take your time recovering from the breathing exercise. After doing the breathing exercise and you feel good, you can start with taking the cold shower. 


Watch the documentary of Wim Hof he outlines & proves his extraordinary simple methods.



The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA

Author: Justin West

Surfer, Freediver & MMA enthusiast runs surfing & training programs in the Portuguese Algarve, Maldives & Madagascar.