“We can do more than what we think.” It’s a belief system that I have adopted, and it has become my motto. There is more than meets the eye, and unless you are willing to experience new things, you’ll never realize your full potential.” – Wim Hof
These are great words of Wim Hof, a popular Dutch extreme athlete or also best known as an “Iceman.” He has been known for his ability to endure and survive in sub-zero conditions by utilizing his psyche to direct his body temperature.
With his strong resistance in very extreme temperatures, he was able to grab a total of 26 records, including a Guinness World Record for achieving the longest time ( 1hr, 54 min., and 42 sec.) in an ice bath.
There was even a record of him running a half-marathon distance race over the Arctic circle bare-footed, and another one was in the Namib desert without water.
Wearing only shorts and shoes, he had climbed on Mount Kilimanjaro and tried the same with Mount Everest. Being known for his cold endurance feats, you’ll be prying what he has been through to accomplish such.
To be like a Wim Hof superhuman, you need to follow his three pillars to maintain good health — cold therapy, breathing, and strong commitment. To know more about the secret behind this Iceman’s success, dive in and find out more below.
Who is Wim Hof?
Born on April 20, 1959, in Sittard, Netherlands, Wim Hof is one of Mr. and Mrs. Hof’s nine children. His siblings are namely, Rob (1954), John (1955), Marianne (1957), Wim and Andre (1959-identical twins), Ruud (1961), Ed (1962), Marcel (1964), and Jacqueline (1967).
At the age of 17, all of a sudden, he felt urged to jump on the freezing cold water of the Beatrixpark canal. When he had lost his first wife, the sadness he felt all the way had led him to develop and formulate techniques on how to face and survive low-temperature environments.
Hof had set his first-ever Guinness World Record was on March 16, 2000, in which he accomplished swimming under the ice with a total distance of 188.6 ft. (57.5 meters). It was followed by another world record of being the fastest runner in a half marathon on January 26, 2007, in which he was able to run barefoot on ice and snow a total time of 2hrs., 16 mins., and 34 secs.
In 2007, it was recorded how Hof had climbed Mount Everest only wearing shorts and shoes with a total altitude of 23,600 ft. (7,200 meters). But due to a recurring foot injury, he didn’t finish climbing up to the mountain’s peak.
He had set another 16 world records for accomplishing the longest time in full-body contact with ice, including; 1hour, 42minutes and 22 seconds (January 23, 2009), 1 hour, and 44 minutes (January 2010), One hour, 53 minutes, and 2 seconds (2013).
In February 2009, Hof’s made another world-record when he reached the top of Mount Kilimanjaro for only two days wearing a pair of shorts and shoes.
Moving forward to 2016, Hof was able to reach Gilman’s point of Kilimanjaro together with journalist Scott Carney for only 28 hours (documented in the book “What Doesn’t Kill Us”). Then, in September, he ran a full marathon at the Namib Desert without water.
Despite his achievements, Hof still insists that he is just a typical guy who has a lot of struggles in life, and even facing depression. Anyone can learn and achieve what he has.
Wim Hof's Workout Routine
Becoming an Iceman like Wim Hof needs a solid discipline, especially when it comes to your workout routine. A man like him can breathe underwater for about 6 minutes and sit in an ice bath for about 2 hours while still maintaining his normal body temperature.
I’m pretty sure you’re all curious as to how an extreme athlete works out:
Wake Up and Stretch
Hof stretches his back and tough his toes. He then reaches the sky standing on his toes, holds for three seconds, and repeats it twice.
Next, he takes a 30-40 slow, steady breath. He then followed it with a 10-count holding on to exhale and take a breath, and then hold a count of 10 once again. He repeats it four times and meditates for at least five minutes.
The most important part of his workout routine is taking a cold shower. When he doesn’t have enough time, he sometimes combines power breathing while showering. If you want to follow a Wim Hof method, don’t ever skip this part.
Wim Hof's Breathing Exercise:
Looking for a quiet place to sit or lie down is the first thing that Hof is doing. There should be no distractions and minimal noise in that place so that he will be comfortable while exercising. Then, he follows these four steps:
Step 1: Power Breaths
Here, Hof starts his exercise with 30-40 breaths (inhale and exhale). It must be slow and steady, making sure his breathing is neither deep or shallow. When performing power breaths, you need to imagine being blowing up a balloon and need to picture it out as if your body is being concentrated with fresh oxygen.
During this process, it is normal if you feel tingly or lightheaded.
Step 2: Hold Your Breath
Once Hof completes the first step, he empties his lungs and holds his breath as long as he can. To monitor how long he can hold his breath and improvement with the time, he is using a stopwatch to check it. If you’re in this step, don’t focus too much on time or feel anxious if your time doesn’t increase quickly.
Step 3: Breathe In
After Hof holds his breath until such time he feels a gasp reflex, he then inhales for about 10 seconds. Next is, he holds his breath for about 10-15 seconds. He usually repeats this step 1-4 rounds.
Step 4: Meditate
Once he is done with all the rounds of power breathing, he immediately meditates for a minimum of 5 minutes. Here, it would be best if you close your eyes then focus on your breathing. Do your very best to block out any distracting thoughts and sounds around.
As Wim Hof said, this will be difficult at first, but it will become easier with constant practice. He believes that practicing his breathing and meditation techniques can help cure and prevent more diseases. It can also help in improving the quality of life, including having better sleep at night.
Wim Hof has done a guided meditation video on YouTube which you can check out below:
What does Wim Hof's Diet plan look like?
Wim Hof is a vegetarian. He is only eating one formal meal a day, and it is scheduled after 6 pm. He is eating vegetable soup or pasta.
He only eats snacks on nuts and fruits and drinks water, green tea, and coffee during the day. Sometimes, he also enjoys drinking beer in the evening. Hof’s diet mainly focuses on low- calories intake and engages in intermittent fasting.
- Low Protein 10%
- Low-Medium Fat 20%
- High Carb 70%
What Foods He Eats
- Fresh Vegetables
- Green Tea
What Foods To Avoid
- Meat, Specially Treated With Hormones and/or Antibiotics
- Refined Foods
- Processed Foods
- Genetically-modified foods (GMOs)
- Hydrogenated Fats
- Artificial Ingredients
As you notice, Hof is only eating one full meal in the evening. He sometimes takes snacks or eats nuts during the rest hours and fasts sometimes for about 16 hours. He has this so-called superpower to control his mind to bear and endure any temperature, as well as any urge.
He ensures to take care and strictly maintain his diet and fitness routine. He didn’t miss any single day of his exercise routine. As he said, “If you can learn how to use your mind, anything is possible.”
When it comes to supplements, Hof is not using any as he is not a proponent of taking any supplement.
Wim Hof's Faster Workout Recovery
After every exercise, regardless of whether it is weight training or cardio, your body will require enough time to recover fully. During exercises, your muscle tissue gets harmed, and energy stores are being depleted. You should rest your body, so it can fully recover from your whole day workout.
These are the principles that guide Wim Hof to recover from heavy workouts quickly:
Getting more rest and sleep. During sleep, your body delivers certain hormones that assist it to recover from your intense workout. The testosterone levels increase, and the pituitary gland increases the production of HGH during REM sleep. Ensure to have enough sleep and practice proper sleep hygiene.
Make sure to eat properly. Normally, your body needs enough protein to repair muscle tissue after an intense workout. Likewise, a need for enough carbohydrates is also vital to restoring your energy supplies in the body. Keeping a healthy eating regimen that contains all the needed proteins and carbs will guarantee your fast recovery.
Keep yourself hydrated. Water is an important part of your workout recovery, as it is the one that supports your metabolic function. By staying hydrated, you help to promote the exchange of all nutrients throughout your body.
Advantages of the Wim Hof Method that helps in speeding up workout recovery:
- It can help you to have a better sleep at night by giving you full control over your emotions and relieving your stress
- Cold therapy can help in reducing inflammation and muscle soreness
- breathing exercise can help in diffusing toxins
Becoming an Iceman cannot be achieved overnight. Even Wim Hof himself went through many struggles and difficulties to get the perfect mindset he has today.
If you want to be like him, a double effort and dedication are your key. It would be best if you continued working hard every single day. As he said, “I’ve come to understand that if you want to learn something badly enough, you’ll find a way to make it happen. Having the will to search and succeed is very important.”
Marko Rakic is a trail runner and fitness enthusiast from Sydney, Australia. He is the lead writer for The Ultimate Primate and believes the best way to live a happy life is through constantly challenging yourself.