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The Wim Hof Method: Getting Health Benefits Through Breathing Techniques

November 16, 2021
The Wim Hof Method

The Wim Hof method was developed by Endurance Legend Wim Hof on the belief that humans can use breathing patterns to train the body and achieve incredible feats. This method became popular mainly due to the feats achieved by its founder, Wim Hof.

Climbing freezing mountains without clothes, trekking miles in the desert without a drop of water, swimming in frozen lakes, etc. All of these sound pretty crazy. Why would you want to learn a method from a man that puts himself in so much danger?

Well, mainly because his method works! The Wim Hof method has helped transform millions of lives worldwide and enhanced their physical, mental, and spiritual health.

This article will show you ways to improve your productivity, well-being, and all-around performance by mastering this famous breathing technique.


Who is Wim Hof?

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Wim Hoff, also called The Iceman, is famously known for his daring escapades against hypothermic temperatures. He is also an endurance athlete, adventurer, and philosopher. 

For many years, Wim Hof has pushed his body to its limit and carried out unimaginable feats. Some of these include climbing some of the world’s highest mountains wearing only shorts, being immersed in an ice-cube container for several hours, and running marathons in both the arctic circle and the Namib Desert! He currently holds the Guinness World Record for the longest time spent in an ice bath by a human.

Hof has attributed his endurance to practicing self-developed techniques, which according to him, can make the human body more resilient in the face of physical and psychological stress.

What is the Wim Hof Method?

The Wim Hof method, named after its founder, combines breathing exercises, mediation, and cold exposure. This specialized breathing technique aims to reduce stress levels by helping control bodily responses to stress through the mind. 

How To Perform the Wim Hof Method

In a nutshell, the Wim Hof method involves deep rhythmic inhales and exhales, then a retention time, where you hold your breath for minutes. However, there are three pillars you must understand first to perform this exercise flawlessly.

The first pillar is breathing. Breathing helps us take in oxygen, an essential element in energy production. The second is cold exposure. Cold exposure is linked to a lot of health benefits, such as quicker metabolism and less inflammation. The last pillar is meditation. Meditation helps build up patience and mindfulness. These two virtues are essential for mastering the Wim Hof method.

Now that you are aware of the pillars, let’s learn the exercise. There are three basic steps. The first is controlled hyperventilation; the second is Retention and the last, Revive.

Controlled Hyperventilation

In this phase, you will need to take deep, rhythmic breaths for 30 cycles. A cycle involves taking a deep breath that fills the lungs fully, then exhaling by passively releasing the breath. Repeat this 30 times at a steady pace.


  1. Once you’re done with 30 cycles of controlled hyperventilation, take in another deep breath and breathe out all the air slowly.
  2. After breathing out completely, hold your breath for as long as you can.
  3. Ensure you prevent air from coming in by drawing your chin slightly. 

While in this state, focus on bodily sensations and visualize yourself in complete alignment. Perform this exercise until you feel the gasp reflex on the top of your chest.


This is the final stage of this exercise. Here, you will need to fill your lungs to total capacity with a deep breath. When at full capacity, hold your breath for 15 seconds and let go. You might experience a head rush sensation while doing this. 

Note: Perform this sequencing exercise thrice to unlock its full benefit

What are the Health Benefits of the Wim Hof Method?

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As earlier mentioned, the proper use of Wim Hof’s breathing method helps you take control of your body and activate its full potential. Also, here are some of the health benefits backed by science.

  1. Improving concentration
  2. Boosting the immune system
  3. Increased endurance and willpower
  4. Relieving symptoms of mental depression
  5. Reduction of stress through improved sleep time
  6. Help to manage symptoms of fibromyalgia.   



Over the years, Wim Hof has collaborated with scientists to prove the credibility of his breathing technique. Currently, several studies are researching the physical effects of Wim Hof’s Method, and scientists are learning how these breathing techniques affect the brain and metabolic activity, inflammation, and pain. 

Several studies have also been carried out on Wim Hof after his feats. A 2017 case study of Wim Hof reported that he could tolerate extreme cold by creating an artificial stress response in his body. Scientists say that Wim Hof’s brain rather than his body helps in responding to cold exposure. According to the study, people can learn to control their autonomic nervous system to bring about similar changes. 

Also, a 2014 report studied the effectiveness of Wim Hof’s method in reducing acute mountain sickness (AMS). The study was conducted on a group of 26 trekkers who used Wim Hof’s technique while hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro. It was reported Wim Hof’s method helped prevent AMS and reverse symptoms that developed. 

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