I coach and teach what I know works. I learn from the best to not just elevate myself to a new level but ultimately help others improve. It’s what I do.
Out of the many ‘Masters’ of their craft (alive or dead) that I learn and implement from, Wim Hof is certainly one of them. After spending some time with him and his method, this is for sure.
He took ancient methods known to help us humans reach higher levels of ability and went right at it. A daredevil at heart, he shocked the world (and me) with his incredible feats and record breaking tasks. One in particular was climbing Everest without oxygen and only in his shorts! Unbelievable but he did and reached the ‘death zone’ in the process before having a foot injury.
With all the parrots and fake experts on the internet now, it’s easy to think others touting his methods as if they were their own and have experienced and mastered them themselves, would be the way to go for learning these things. I just can’t tell you enough how important it is to learn from those who have truly done it themselves to a high level. He’s one of them.
The point of this blog isn’t to talk about his feats as enough has been said. It’s to talk about my experience being taught by him, implementing the Wim Hof method (WHM) and my take on it.
Personally I’m a natural athlete and highly kinaesthetic, I take to performance well, and fast. I get it. I’m also highly interoceptive to the point of willingly slowing my heart rate down or speeding it up significantly just by ‘thinking’ about it and creating certain activations in my body. Another one is probably adrenaline response at will, I haven’t proven this but I create the symptoms by internal activation. There’s other things possible with sex too but thats another story! What I’m saying is that the WHM is based heavily on this interoception and helps create this ‘inner awareness’. I was interested as there’s not many people you can talk to about this stuff!
I grew up in Cornwall and surfed every day if I could, to say it was a passion is an understatement. So much so that it didn’t matter how cold it was in the winter as a teenager and only carrying a shorty wetsuit (at times cracking into my ice filled wetsuit after it was left outside in the garden) my friends and I would jump straight in and surf for many hours at a time. The norm was not feeling your hands or be able to move them once you got out… point being I know what it’s like to be cold.
One fundamental area of the WHM is to take cold showers daily, build up from seconds to minutes over a specified time to gradually increase the quality of your circulation, build brown fat and eventually reduce total inflammation in the body. It works and has been proven with recent studies. Considering that with central heating and warm showers over a lifetime a lot of people have such bad circulation that they can’t even handle a mild draft, this is something to consider, as unless you expose yourself to the elements and hardships, you will get weak. Fact.
The other fundamental area is breathing. Breathing is something I go into in great depth with clients as the vast majority of people simply can’t and don’t breathe correctly for numerous reasons like sedentary lifestyle, bad posture bad ergonomics at work etc. And this can hugely affect anxiety, sport performance and hormones. Through using his breathing method with repetition, this helps not only facilitate your ability to improve oxygen uptake but also an adrenal response which helps with cold exposure and symptoms of virus’s.
Performing and following the WHM provides these benefits:
- Pumps the body full of vital oxygen
- Helps cell activation
- Natural high and awakened state
- Deep meditative state attained
- Increases testosterone
- Improved circulation
- Lowers inflammation
- Increases mitochondrial rich ‘brown’ fat
- Gets you leaner
- Deeper interoceptive ability Including immune response
- Cytokine balance
I started this at the beginning of winter. The cold showers were predictably cold and uncomfortable. In a strange way I actually enjoyed them for several reasons… Mainly because it gave me a bigger boost than any coffee ever could (even the Neapolitan ones I famously love) and the other is the mental aspect. Once you’ve actually willingly had a few minutes in the cold shower you come out feeling much more positive about handling anything for the rest of the day. As a coach of many people and their problems, this is useful!
Charging into this program properly and as winter got colder and colder the breathing method helped enormously. 3 minutes was now the norm and once a week I’d go to 10 minutes in the shower. The mind aspect was extremely important to keep this going daily and increasing the time spent in the cold water. The result was that recovery from training improved and so did my oxygen capacity. I did breathe holds of 4 minutes.
It’s summer. It’s far too easy to take a cold shower now but the journey has been incredible. Circulation is great, recovery is better than last year and my ‘Brown’ fat content will have improved too. Next up is ice baths until winter comes again. I will also say that through doing the breathing there is an inner awareness that heightens during and after, a simple ache or tingling that can come and go in areas where there may have been discomfort before.
My recommendation is that like training and nutrition, this method requires absolute dedication and focus. You can’t do these things and hope for results with a half assed attempt. If you’re focused on upgrading yourself, I can’t recommend the Wim Hof Method enough.
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Enjoy the journey