In this phenomenal interview with The Iceman Wim Hof we discuss what I believe may be the edge and frontier of human potential. By studying Wim, who has achieved 21 Guinness World Records, scientists are building a knowledge base of what is possible for humans. As Wim trains others to do what he does, then he becomes less of an ‘outlier’ and ‘anomaly’.
This is why I asked him to talk with me. I am interested in learning how he accomplishes his feats so that I can apply his methods to my own life. My hope is that you will be able to take pieces of this interview and do the same with yourself, family, and business. We discuss:
- Raising Kids
- Teaching others to handle adversity - The science of the body mind connection – Cold Exposure and Breathing
- Proof - Scientific findings and research
- His vision for teaching kids how to control their health, strength, and happiness (mood)
- Adjusting Mood (happiness) - The link between breath and mood state
- Eliminating depression
- The science behind his extraordinary feats
- His mission and vision for kids
- The benefits of cold immersion and breathing
- His favorite Guinness World Record
- His favorite experiment (performed on himself) to date
The Beginning of the Iceman
By the time Wim reached his teenage years, he was already running barefoot through the snow, comfortably. This was the beginning of a large series of confrontations with the cold, where every single time, limits were tested, and the outside world was stunned. Wim Hof is able to perform exceptionally, almost unnaturally, on what he is focused on during extreme situations. Due to our comfortable lifestyle today we are far removed from our natural body functions.
We breathe much more shallow which means that our body is not optimally supplied with oxygen. According to Wim, it’s not complicated at all: "What I am capable of, everybody can learn".
Control over your inner nature
Wim has taught himself how to control his heart rate, breathing and blood circulation. All this is regulated by the autonomic nervous system. Science says that the autonomic nervous system is a part of the body you just can´t control, yet Wim can, by steering his hypothalamus (an area in the brain which regulates the body temperature). While the body temperature of an untrained person drops dangerously after exposing it to extreme cold, Wim is able to retain his core temperature around 37 degrees Celsius, constantly. Even after 1 hour and 52 minutes sitting in ice, Wim’s core temperature stays the same. Scientists around the world are baffled by this exceptional capability.
21 Guinness World Records
He has accomplished 21 Guinness World Records with the most exceptional and unique performances. Here is a sampling of those:
- Ice Endurance feat, which is set at 1 hour and 52 minutes
- Running a marathon above the Arctic Circle in shorts (the video of this is extraordinary)
- Running half a marathon barefoot above the Arctic Circle in only shorts
- Officially swam under ice for 66 meters, unofficially swam under ice for 120 meters with one breath
- Free climbing
- Hanging on one finger at an altitude of 2,000 meters
- Climbing the highest mountains on earth in only shorts (like Everest and Kilimanjaro)
- Full marathon in Namib desert without water consumption
Teaching Others and Scientific Proof
In order to squelch ‘naysayers’, Wim has embarked on a journey to prove his capabilities and also to teach others to do what he does.
He proved this in what I think is his landmark study where he trained 12 people to do a remarkable experiment highlighted below. The experiment (also referenced below in the science section) is called “Voluntary activation of the sympathetic nervous system and attenuation of the innate immune system response in humans” done by Dr. Pikkers and Kox, where Wim trained subjects influenced the autonomic nervous and immune system (video from the doctors).
Teaching Others - Resources from this episode:
Free Online Course
10 Week Course
Wim Hof Method Explained in Detail
VICE Documentary featuring Wim
Reference Sites for Wim Hof
Ice Man website
Four Hour Work Week Interview
Vice Video Link
The Clymb Site
Social Media for Wim Hof
Books By Wim Hof
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Summarized Show Notes:
- How are we able to tap into different response systems such as the autonomic systems and nervous systems, and show (for the first time) that we are able to produce more adrenaline – as if someone is doing their first bungee jump.
- How to tap into the Endocrine systems (controlling mood and hormones), and the Immune systems (controlling disease). With these techniques you are able to control the mood and the hormones, and tap into the endocrine systems. [8:50]
- 230 million prescriptions filled out in the US alone for antidepressants, more than £3 Billion – and covers a complete spectrum – from light stress, and mild to severe depression. A combination of breathing and cold – and how it gets applied. [9:23]
- Free course on the website – method consists of 3 lymphs - gradual cold triggers the vascular system. Second is breathing which brings about better oxygenation of the blood. And the 3rd are mind-set. This allows you to tap into the physiology of the endocrine systems which control the mood and hormones. Now you WILL feel that you have the power to intervene. Take a cold shower after a hot one. Breathe better. Thus you will be able to control the PH level bringing out to the natural system where it should be. Then you feel you have a sense of control and this affects your mindset. [10:03]
- Learning, when going consciously into the body. If you are compare this to a situation of danger, your body is taking over. When you are in dangerous situations, and the body takes over, and you use the cold shower, it takes you to the breadth of your being. And it trains you to take control and have power over yourself. So when you are in a difficult situation, you are more able to control it. That is comfort, and it builds confidence. This is just to trigger and awaken the deeper physiology of yourself and learn some breathing. [13:06]
- How this was founded on an internal belief, but then moved to science. A lot of world feats to gain attention. [15:12]
- Wim’s favorite experiment in an ice bath [16:10]
- Injecting endotoxins (E-coli bacteria) results in complete suppression of the cytokines and the inflammatory markers in the autonomic nervous system. [17:54]
- Interest from Harvard Medical School starting studies with them. We have seen indications for possible healthcare solutions via a natural method. Able to tap into so much more power from within and tackle and prevent disease. Able to help people with arthritis, Crohn’s, etc. [20:44]
- We found a way to reset the body and bring it to its natural state [23:03]
- The parasympathetic nervous system, you get from doing mindfulness for a long time. During the day, consciously, deeper breathing – so you are in control. Shallowness in breathing patterns results in less oxygen in the cell and the cell is more acidic. We are able to store a whole lot more oxygen. [24:01]
- If you are able to do this the cell is able to regenerate in peaceful level. Not when it is stress mode. The Neocortex, the upper layer of our brain, the daily live, action, and it takes energy. But if you know how to tap into the limbic system which this technique does. You get into the paralimbic system – to get more [25:44]
- Only when we have more scientific proof can we help illnesses such as depression, arthritis, Crohn's, daily life. We need to have more confidence to tackle what life is all about. Peace and action. Our deeper parts of our being requires nature and we are now able to tap into this. [27:51]
- Kids are the real goal. If we want to change the world, can’t have kids alienated from their inner physiology. If we love our kids, we want them strong, happy and healthy. We show that we are able to make people strong. [29:17]
- Every morning, rise and do breathing exercises at 4 am. Tremendous peace and power. Rejuvenating and rehabilitating. Raising kids, being more of a child than themselves. On a deeper level, being busy, believing, believing, understanding, realizing. Breathing and Cold training. Never get sick and my kids never get sick. If something is wrong with me, - I change it. [31:50]
- A possible solution for the food problem in the world. I am able to generate more cell activity, by thinking only. We need to do more studies, because these are BIG issues. We eat too much. Food is equivalent to energy. Food you need to process, but with breathing you do not need to process it all the time. It doesn’t use a lot of energy. [34:50]
- Permanent change comes from insight. If the body doesn’t have the correct PH then you lose the mind body connection. Health, happiness….Strength! You have to deal with this consciously. Because of our behavior, we have lost this connection within. Right Consciousness. We have to compensate for the non-stimulative behavior. We have become conditioned, with the de-conditioned. [37:12]
- The right information is motivational [39:10]
- Of the 20 plus Guinness World Records which is the most meaningful? – Going under a meter of ice, deck and having to swim 50 m underneath. The day before, did rehearsal. I forgot to wear goggles. And I passed the hole. I tried to find the hole. I ended up swimming 130 meters underneath the ice deck. I never felt the agony to drown. Because of the breathing that I do to raise the PH levels. To cause the body to withdraw within. I lost my fear of dying there. So peaceful. [41:03]
- We lost our connection with nature. We get disease. We get sick. Everybody is capable, is able to reconnect to the natural state of our physiology and be happy natural and healthy and control it. [45:39]
- Connect with discomfort. Innate immune response. We are able to tap it. Enabling us to increase the quality of daily life. [46:25]