Wim Hof

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Wim Hof
Wim Hof.jpg
Hof immersed in an ice bath, 2007
Born (1959-04-20) 20 April 1959 (age 62)
Sittard, Limburg, Netherlands
OccupationExtreme athlete
Websitehttps://www.wimhofmethod.com/ Edit this on Wikidata

Wim Hof (born 20 April 1959), also known as The Iceman, is a Dutch extreme athlete noted for his ability to withstand freezing temperatures.[1] He has set Guinness World Records for swimming under ice and prolonged full-body contact with ice, and previously held the record for a barefoot half marathon on ice and snow. He attributes these feats to his Wim Hof Method (WHM), a combination of frequent cold exposure, breathing techniques, yoga and meditation. Hof has been the subject of several medical assessments and a book by investigative journalist Scott Carney.[2]. He has also experienced serious drawbacks of his techniques, in 2008 he was urgently hospitalized because he sat on a public fountain in Amsterdam and ruptured his rectum when doing so. [3]

Early life[edit]

Hof was born in Sittard, Limburg, Netherlands, as one of nine children, in order of birth: Rob (1954), John (1955), Marianne (1957), Wim and Andre (1959-identical twins), Ruud (1961), Ed (1962), Marcel (1964) and Jacqueline (1967).[4][5] Hof has six children, four of them with his first wife Marivelle-Maria (also called "Olaya"), who died by suicide in 1995,[6] a son, born in 2003 to his girlfriend, and a son born in 2017 to his last girlfriend.[7] When he was 17 he felt a sudden urge to jump into the freezing cold water of the Beatrixpark canal.[8][6][7] Hof has said that his sadness over the loss of his first wife was formative in leading him to develop techniques to face low temperature environments.[7][9]


Hof at, a 2015 event, at TheaterAmsterdam

On 16 March 2000, Hof set the Guinness World Record for farthest swim under ice, with a distance of 57.5 metres (188.6 ft).[10][11] The swim at a lake near Pello, Finland was filmed for a Dutch television program, and a test run the previous day almost ended in disaster when his corneas started to freeze and he was swimming blind. A diver rescued him as he was starting to lose consciousness.[4] A new record of 76.2 metres (250 ft) was set by Stig Severinsen in 2013.[12]

On 26 January 2007, Hof set a world record for fastest half marathon barefoot on ice and snow, with a time of 2 hours, 16 minutes, and 34 seconds.[13] This record was surpassed on 17 January 2021, by Czech Josef Šálek, who finished a half-marathon in Pelhřimov with a time of 1:36:21.[14]

Hof has set the world record for longest time in direct, full-body contact with ice a total of 16 times,[15] including 1 hour, 42 minutes and 22 seconds on 23 January 2009;[16] 1 hour, 44 minutes in January 2010;[17] and 1 hour 53 minutes and 2 seconds in 2013.[15] This was surpassed in 2014 by Songhao Jin of China, with a time of 1 hour, 53 minutes and 10 seconds;[18] and surpassed in 2019 by Josef Köberl of Austria, with a time of 2 hours, 8 minutes and 47 seconds.[19]

In 2007, Hof climbed to an altitude of 7,200 metres (23,600 ft) on Mount Everest wearing nothing but shorts and shoes, but aborted the attempt due to a recurring foot injury.[20][21] In 2016 he reached Gilmans point on Kilimanjaro with journalist Scott Carney in 28 hours, an event later documented in the book What Doesn't Kill Us.[22]

Wim Hof markets a regimen, the Wim Hof Method (WHM), created with his son Enahm Hof. The method involves three "pillars": cold therapy, breathing, and meditation.[23] It has similarities to Tibetan Tummo meditation and pranayama, both of which employ breathing techniques.[24]

Claims and criticism[edit]

A wide range of claims are made for the beneficial effects of the Method. While a reduced inflammatory response due to hyperventilation has been documented, as well as suppression of injected endotoxins, Hof's other claims have not been scientifically proven.[25][26][27]

People have died while attempting the Wim Hof Method.[28][29] Four practitioners of the WHM drowned in 2015 and 2016, and relatives suspected the breathing exercises were to blame.[28][29] Hof now cautions against using his method when diving or driving due to the possibility of blackout.[25]

Critics of Hof say he overstates the benefits of his method.[25] On his website he says that it has reduced symptoms of several diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson's disease.[24] However, these claims have not been demonstrated scientifically.[25] Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt, one of the scientists who studied Hof, stated that "[Hof's] scientific vocabulary is galimatias. With conviction, he mixes in a non-sensical way scientific terms as irrefutable evidence."[30] However, Van Marken Lichtenbelt goes on to say: "When practicing the Wim Hof Method with a good dose of common sense (for instance, not hyperventilating before submerging in water) and without excessive expectations: it doesn't hurt to try."[30]

Media appearances[edit]

Cover of Becoming the Iceman

Hof appears in the music video for "My Last Breath" by James Newman, the United Kingdom entry for the Eurovision Song Contest 2020.[31][32]

Hof appears in season one of the Netflix series Goop Lab.[33]

Hof has also been interviewed on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast.

Hof features prominently in Scott Carney's investigative book What Doesn't Kill Us.

Hof has a chapter giving advice in Tim Ferriss' book Tools of Titans.


  • Hof, Wim (1998). Klimmen in stilte [Climbing in silence] (in Dutch). Altamira. ISBN 9789069634395.
  • Hof, Wim (2000). De top bereiken is je angst overwinnen [Reaching the top is overcoming your fear] (in Dutch). Andromeda. ISBN 9789055991136.
  • Hof, Wim; Rosales, Justin (2012). Becoming the Iceman : pushing past perceived limits. Mill City Press. ISBN 9781937600464.
  • Hof, Wim; Jong, Koen A.M. de (2015). Koud kunstje : wat kun je leren van de iceman?. Uitgeverij Water. ISBN 9789491729256.
  • Hof, Wim (2020). De Wim Hof methode. Kosmos Uitgevers. ISBN 9789021578415.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Shea, Daisy-May Hudson and Matt (16 July 2015). "ICEMAN". Vice. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  2. ^ Carney, Scott (2017). What doesn't kill us : how freezing water, extreme altitude, and environmental conditioning will renew our lost evolutionary strength. Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale. ISBN 9781623366919.
  3. ^ https://www.hetvondelpark.net/Vondelnieuws/DeStuntVanDeIceman. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ a b Carney, Scott (2011). "The Iceman Cometh". Scott Carney. Archived from the original on 27 June 2018. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  5. ^ Hof & Rosales 2012, p. 10.
  6. ^ a b Joe Rogan (interviewer) and Wim Hof (21 October 2015). Wim Hof (podcast). Joe Rogan Experience. 712. Joe Rogan. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  7. ^ a b c Innerfire. "Innerfire - Wim Hof, The Iceman - Innerfire". Retrieved 18 July 2015.
  8. ^ Hedegaard, Erik (3 November 2017). "Wim Hof Says He Holds the Key to a Healthy Life – But Will Anyone Listen?". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  9. ^ Tang, Vivienne. "Wim Hof: The Iceman on Breathwork, Ice Baths, and How to Reset and Control Your Immune System". Destination Deluxe. Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  10. ^ Farthest swim under ice - Guinness World Records. Guinnes World Records. 20 August 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  11. ^ Science Explains How the Iceman Resists Extreme Cold. Smithsonian Mag. January 2020. Retrieved 10 February 2020.
  12. ^ "Longest swim under ice - breath held (no fins, no diving suit)". Guinness World Records. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  13. ^ "Fastest half marathon barefoot on ice/snow". Guinness World Records. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  14. ^ [1]
  15. ^ a b Glenday, Craig (2015). Guinness world records 2015. Bantam Trade. p. 246. ISBN 9781101883808.
  16. ^ "Full body ice contact endurance". Guinness World Records. 8 May 2011. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  17. ^ Sunday, Alex (29 December 2010). "Dutchman Aims to Take Longest Ice Bath". CBS News. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  18. ^ "Longest duration full body contact with ice". Guinness World Records. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  19. ^ "Longest duration full body contact with ice". World Open Water Swimming Association. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  20. ^ "Dutch Iceman to climb Everest in shorts: It's all about the inner fire". ExplorersWeb. 1 March 2007. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  21. ^ Kathmandu (29 May 2007). "Everest climber falls short". The Age. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  22. ^ "What Doesn't Kill Us by Scott Carney". PenguinRandomhouse.com. Retrieved 13 May 2020.
  23. ^ Hof, Wim. "Wim Hof Method". wimhofmethod.com. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  24. ^ a b Hof, Wim. "Wim Hof Method Breathing". Wim Hof Method. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  25. ^ a b c d Hall, Harriet (12 January 2021). "Wim Hof, the Iceman". Science-Based Medicine.
  26. ^ Houtman, Anne; Scudellari, Megan; Malone, Cindy; Singh-Cundy, Anu (2015). "22. Endocrine and immune systems" (PDF). Biology Now. W. W. Norton & Company. pp. 388–405. ISBN 978-0393906257. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  27. ^ Kox, M.; van Eijk, L. T.; Zwaag, J.; van den Wildenberg, J.; Sweep, F. C. G. J.; van der Hoeven, J. G.; Pickkers, P. (20 May 2014). "Voluntary activation of the sympathetic nervous system and attenuation of the innate immune response in humans". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 111 (20): 7379–7384. doi:10.1073/pnas.1322174111. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC 4034215. PMID 24799686.
  28. ^ a b Tijmstra, Fannie; Bomers, Loes (10 June 2016). "'Iceman' onder vuur" ['Iceman' under fire] (in Dutch). EenVandaag. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  29. ^ a b Duin, Roelf Jan (2 July 2016). "'Iceman'-oefening eist opnieuw leven" ['Iceman' exercise claims a new life]. Het Parool (in Dutch). Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  30. ^ a b van Marken Lichtenbelt, Wouter (11 July 2017). "Who is the Iceman?". Temperature. 4 (3): 202–205. doi:10.1080/23328940.2017.1329001. PMC 5605164. PMID 28944263.
  31. ^ James Newman - My Last Breath - United Kingdom 🇬🇧 - Eurovision 2020 on YouTube
  32. ^ Reilly, Nick (27 February 2020). "James Newman to represent the UK at Eurovision 2020". Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  33. ^ "The Goop Lab Netflix On The Wim Hof Method & Cold Therapy". Goop. Retrieved 13 May 2020.

External links[edit]