Discover the Secrets of the Wim Hof Method
Improve Your Immune System & Lose Weight
By: Joe Hanney
Most people would look at any of these records and say they’re impossible. Some of these include running a half-marathon barefoot on ice, swimming under the ice for a record distance of 57.5 meters, and of course, climbing Mount Everest… in shorts. Wim may be gifted, but others argue that he’s simply learned to master a technique (named after himself) called the Wim Hof Method.
It’s a unique combination of 3 practices with benefits to increase athletic performance, reduce stress, and help you sleep better, along with several other benefits as you’ll discover below.
What Is the Wim Hof Method?
Don’t worry, the Wim Hof Method isn’t a strategy to climb Everest in just your shorts. (Though if you follow in Wim’s footsteps, who’s to say you couldn’t? It’s a set of skills that, when practiced consistently, can provide your mind and body a wide variety of benefits. The Wim Hof Method combines 3 different practices: Cold Therapy, Breathing Exercises, and Commitment.
Embracing the cold is healthy for you.Exposure to the cold provides various health benefits, including increased brown fat (the good kind), which results in fat loss, reduced inflammation, and an improved immune system. Plus, you’ll have better-balanced hormones, better sleep, and more endorphins (the feel-good chemicals in your brain to elevate your mood).
The second practice of the Wim Hof Method involves a focus on breathing. You’re always passively breathing, but you may be unaware of the potential of focused, concentrated breathing exercises. Increased oxygen levels have various physical benefits, including reduced stress and better immune responses.
The final practice is the most important. Without a commitment to improving your body and mind, you won’t go far (especially since you’ll be dealing with extreme temperatures). To fully master the Method (and reap the numerous physical rewards it has to offer), you’ll need a certain level of patience and determination.
Because let’s face it, if you aren’t determined to improve your health, you won’t make it through a cold shower, which is one of the simple Wim Hof practices you’ll learn below.
How Will the Wim Hof Method Benefit Me?
I know what you’re thinking: cold showers sound awful. Where’s the benefit in that? Why add another random thing to the mix? It’s hard enough managing 40+ hours of work, let alone getting to the gym.
Various studies have proven that to reach the highest levels of fitness, our bodies might need the assistance of environmental stress. One of the main benefits of exposure to cold temperatures is the increase of beneficial brown fat stores.
Yes. There are two kinds of fat: white fat (the kind that leads to obesity when there’s too much) and brown fat (the beneficial kind). Brown fat burns energy rather than storing it like white fat. Increased brown fat levels lead to better glucose regulation and can even combat obesity and diabetes.
Another benefit to cold exposure is something called “cold thermogenesis.” The body’s natural response to cold temperatures is to kick into a high-heat mode, which means your body starts working incredibly hard to heat up, thus creating a fat-burning mechanism.
According to a Business Insider Singapore article, “...when we’re forced into colder conditions, our bodies have to work harder to stay at 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.” One way to quickly activate cold thermogenesis in your daily routine is switching between hot and cold showers.
Other benefits of the Wim Hof Method include:
- Increased energy
- Better focus
- Increased mental clarity
- Improved physical performance
- Better sleep
- Increased willpower
- Reduced stress
- Greater tolerance to cold
- Faster recovery
- Reduced thyroid issues
- Reduced food cravings
Perhaps the most significant benefit of the Wim Hof Method is the ability to improve your immune system to fight diseases. A 2012 study at the Radboud University of Nijmegen (Netherlands) compared 12 people following the Wim Hof Method to 12 control subjects to measure immune response. The study observed “profound differences between the two groups,” including “increased epinephrine levels, increased levels of the anti-inflammatory cytokine, decreased levels of pro-inflammatory mediators, and less pronounced fever. Also, flu-like symptoms were lower in the trained group than the untrained group.”
Overall, the 12 that followed the Wim Hof Method for 10 days proved to strengthen their immune system and immune responses by following these breathing methods and exposure to cold environments.
How Can I Reap The Benefits Without Giving Up My Time?
One of the foundations of biohacking is getting the most significant physical result in the least amount of time. It’s hard enough getting to work on time, let alone having time for yourself after work. Why spend extra time on something if you don’t have to? Thankfully, the morning shower is already a habit for most people so it won’t take up any more of your time.
Even if you’re not a morning person, you’ve probably had those days when you start off on the wrong foot. Maybe you’ve slept in too late, rushed through your morning routine, skipped breakfast, raced to work, and then felt tired and overwhelmed for the rest of the day. That kind of morning rush can drag you down, impacting your mental and physical well-being throughout the day.
Even if you’ve had days like that, I’m willing to bet you still managed to take a shower. If you’re going to have a shower anyway, why not biohack it? (Especially if it’s going to optimize your focus, concentration, and attention for the rest of the day.)
How Can I Put Wim Hof Into Practice Today?
How we spend our time doing anything determines our success, health, and well-being. As we do with everything at Formation... we biohack your shower. To do this, we add a cold element to the daily routine. There are several ways to do this. If you don't have the luxury of an ice tub, then join the foundation course with Bechara in Dubai, or we recommend the following:
Ease Into It
If you start with your usual temperature, you can then slowly make the water colder every 20 seconds or so until you’ve hit your limit.
Quick blast at the end
As you near the end of your normal shower routine, set yourself a challenge of, let's say 10 second of a cold blast to finish. Then slowly increase seconds each time you shower until you can last 1-5 minutes.
HIIT in the shower
This one calls for being a little more organized and is done best after you’ve washed and shampooed yourself first. You then time 20 seconds of cold water and switch to 10 seconds of warm water. Repeat 8 times. You can approximate this time, but then again, you might be inclined to flip the timing around. I would recommend using something like a gym boss timer. (True Tabata training but only in the shower.) Or, if you’re like me... you’ll shower for a full 10 minutes in cold water.
Note: to get to this point, though, I slowly built a tolerance to the eustress by implementing the steps above.
Final tips and tricks I've learned to improve showers
Short on time?
Start with your face, back of your neck, underarms, and work onwards. We expose this area of the body first because it activates the mammalian dive reflex, which brings about the bang for your buck benefits.
Access to a pool?
Then just go for an early morning light swim. Live near the ocean, even better!
The ultimate stack?
15-minute hot sauna stack of energizing essential oils, binaural beats, audiobook or meditation), and box breathing paired with 1-2 minutes of cold showers. Optimizing your shower with these simple little tricks is just one of the many biohacks we at Formation like to focus on as part of the morning routine.
Live near a Formation studio, why not try an Anti-Stress Stack? You'll experience PEMF and Nanovi treatments, followed by an infrared sauna session and ice bath plunge. Schedule an introductory appointment today.