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 59)
Sittard, Limburg, Netherlands
Other namesThe Iceman
OccupationExtreme athlete

Wim Hof (born 20 April 1959), also known as the Iceman, is a Dutch extreme athlete noted for his ability to withstand extreme cold, which he attributes to his Wim Hof Method (WHM) breathing techniques.[1][2][3][4] Hof says that the WHM can treat or help alleviate symptoms of illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, arthritis, diabetes, clinical depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and cancer.[1]

Hof has set out to spread the potential health benefits of his breathing techniques, working with scientists around the world to prove that his techniques work.[5] A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America stated that by consciously hyperventilating, Hof can increase his heart rate, adrenaline levels, and blood alkalinity.[6] Hof is the subject of The New York Times bestselling book What Doesn't Kill Us, which tells the story of how the investigative journalist Scott Carney took an assignment to debunk the WHM but ended up learning Hof's techniques.

Early life[edit]

Hof was born in Sittard, Limburg, Netherlands as one of nine children.[7] When he was 17 he felt a sudden urge to jump into the freezing cold water of the Beatrixpark canal.[8][1]


Hof at a 2015 event

Hof holds 26 world records, including one for longest ice bath.[9] In 2007 he climbed to 7200m/23600 feet altitude at Mount Everest wearing nothing but shorts and shoes, but failed to reach the summit due to a recurring foot injury.[10][11] In 2008 he broke his previous world record by staying immersed in ice for 1 hour, 13 minutes and 48 seconds at Guinness World Records 2008.[citation needed] The night before, he performed the feat on the Today Show.[citation needed]

In February 2009 Hof reached the top of Mount Kilimanjaro within two days wearing only shorts.[12] Hof completed a marathon above the arctic circle in Finland, in temperatures close to −20 °C (−4 °F). Dressed in nothing but shorts, Hof finished in 5 hours and 25 minutes. The challenge was filmed by Firecrackerfilms, who make productions for BBC, Channel 4 and National Geographic.[13]

In 2011 Hof again broke the ice endurance record by standing fully immersed in ice for 1 hour and 44 minutes in Tokyo, Japan.[14]

In 2011 Hof broke the ice endurance record twice, in Inzell in February and in New York City in November, setting a new Guinness World Record of 1 hour, 52 minutes, and 42 seconds.[15] In September, Hof ran a full marathon in the Namib Desert without water, under the supervision of Dr. Thijs Eijsvogels.[16]

Breathing Method[edit]

There are many variations of the Wim Hof Method. The basic version consists of three phases as follows:

Controlled hyperventilation
The first phase involves 30 cycles of breathing. Each cycle goes as follows: take a powerful breath in, fully filling the lungs. Breathe out by passively releasing the breath, but not actively exhaling. Repeat this cycle at a steady rapid pace thirty times. Hof says that this form of hyperventilation may lead to tingling sensations or light-headedness.
After completion of the 30 cycles of controlled hyperventilation, take another deep breath in, and let it out completely. Hold the breath for as long as possible.
Breath retention
When strong urges to breathe occur, take a full deep breath in. Hold the breath for around 15 - 20 seconds and let it go. The body may experience a normal head-rush sensation.

These three phases may be repeated for three consecutive rounds.[17]


  • Klimmen in stilte, 1998, ISBN 9789069634395
  • De top bereiken is je angst overwinnen, 2000, ISBN 9789055991136
  • Becoming the Iceman, 2011, ISBN 9781937600464
    Becoming the Iceman cover
  • What Doesn't Kill Us, 2017, ISBN 1623366909

Personal life[edit]

Hof has six children, four of them with his first wife who committed suicide in 1995,[18] and a son, born in 2003 to his second wife. Also a son in 2017.[19] Hof feels that sadness over the loss of his first wife was formative in leading him to develop techniques to face low temperature environments.[19]


Wim Hof has been blamed by relatives of four men who separately drowned in 2015 and 2016 when practicing his breathing exercise. They died after suffering shallow water blackouts in swimming pools.[20][21] Wim Hof advises to do the exercises in a safe manner and location.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Rolling Stone, Wim Hof Says He Holds the Key to a Healthy Life – But Will Anyone Listen? Erik Hedegaard, November 16, 2017
  2. ^ "Wim Hof's Cold Trickery – Pepijn van Erp". www.pepijnvanerp.nl. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  3. ^ Joseph Angier, 7 March 2008, ABC News, Iceman on Everest: 'It Was Easy', Accessed 14 April 2014
  4. ^ FEHILY, TOBY (7 October 2017). "What Doesn't Kill Us, To Be a Machine: books on extreme measures". Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  5. ^ Iceman Vice Media
  6. ^ Kox M, van Eijk LT, Zwaag J, van den Wildenberg J, GJ Sweep FC, van der Hoeven JG, Pickkers P (May 20, 2014). "Voluntary activation of the sympathetic nervous system and attenuation of the innate immune response in humans". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 111 (20): 7379–7384. doi:10.1073/pnas.1322174111. PMC 4034215. PMID 24799686. Retrieved January 28, 2017.
  7. ^ "The Iceman Cometh - scottcarney.com". scottcarney.com. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  8. ^ Joe Rogan Experience #712 - Wim Hof YouTube
  9. ^ Background information on Hof on hofoutdoor.nl, accessed 20 May 2018
  10. ^ Dutch Iceman to climb Everest in shorts: It's all about the inner fire, MountEverest.net
  11. ^ The Age, 29 May 2007. Everest climber falls short
  12. ^ Iceman Wim Hof on Kilimanjaro Summit. YouTube. 14 February 2009. Retrieved 18 July 2015.
  13. ^ Daredevils: The Ice Man. YouTube. 18 September 2009. Retrieved 18 July 2015.
  14. ^ "'Iceman' Wim Hof breekt wereldrecord ijsstaan" ['Ice man' Wim Hof breaks world record for staying in ice water]. AT5 Nieuws (in Dutch). Amsterdam. 3 January 2010. Retrieved 10 May 2012. Hij stond 1 uur en 44 minuten tot en met zijn nek in het ijs (He stood up to his neck in ice water for 1 hour and 44 minutes)
  15. ^ Innerfire. "Innerfire - Wim Hof, The Iceman - Innerfire". Retrieved 18 July 2015.
  16. ^ Innerfire. "Wim Hof Blog". Retrieved 18 July 2015.
  17. ^ Innerfire. "Wim Hof exercises - Wim Hof, The Iceman - Innerfire". www.icemanwimhof.com. Retrieved 2018-02-05.
  18. ^ PowerfulJRE (2015-10-21), Joe Rogan Experience #712 - Wim Hof, retrieved 2017-02-24
  19. ^ a b Innerfire. "Innerfire - Wim Hof, The Iceman - Innerfire". Retrieved 18 July 2015.
  20. ^ Tijmstra, Fannie; Bomers, Loes (10 June 2016). "'Iceman' onder vuur" (in Dutch). EenVandaag. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  21. ^ Duin, Roelf Jan (2 July 2016). "'Iceman'-oefening eist opnieuw leven" (in Dutch). Het Parool. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  22. ^ "Practice the Wim Hof Method". Wim Hof Method. Archived from the original on 29 November 2016. Retrieved 26 July 2017.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]