Anyone worked with Wim Hof Method?

banzaiengr

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Ever get out of a hot tub and roll in the snow? Man is that a trip... And here I thought the Iceman was Richard Kuklinski the contract killer.
 

GeoffreyLevens

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Ever get out of a hot tub and roll in the snow? Man is that a trip...
Oh yeah, repeat, back and forth will really do ya. Have done in Minnesota where instead of snow roll it was a dunk under ice sheet in stream of water so cold it was nearly slush. Whoo-Hoo! Actually for that the hot phase was sauna, but very hot!
 

guardian7

More than 500 posts
I highly recomend taking cold showers. Wim Hof has a free mini-course which explains how to do it after signing up on the site. Start the shower warm and wash. Then change to cold. Expose the limbs first then shoulders and torso. Head last. Build up tolerance slowly. I have only a week's worth of experience, but I am sold. Not so sold on the breathing unless you are coping with extreme cold.

Butekyo, yoga, crocodile, OS any basic diaphragmic breathing seem more relevant to everyday life and training. I don't have experience with the first, only reading.
 

Shawn90

More than 500 posts
Cold showers will enhance buteyko results. (in my experience)

I think sitting in the snow, hyperventilating, is completely stupid. (imo)

Buteyko worked best for me with a lot of walking, cold showers. And there are many overlooked factors that work against you, like posture, sleep, cold exposure, movement, relaxation (skill).
 

GeoffreyLevens

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
I think sitting in the snow, hyperventilating, is completely stupid. (imo)
Not so sure if that is Hof's m.o. but rather more very controlled slow breathing in attempt to maintain as much relaxation as possible. That's what I do in the shower daily.

Ever get out of a hot tub and roll in the snow? Man is that a trip...
I've found that doing that in the shower, alternating hot/cold makes the intial entry much more gentle feeling. The second cycle the cold feels much less shocking and by the third only minimally.

Last year found at a hotsprings place about 1 1/2 hours away, sauna with adjacent outdoor pool that is cold water at whatever ambient temp sets it at. My favorite thing to do there is cycle back and forth. Winter days w/ snow on the ground, the cold is mid to upper 40's. After a few cycles it's practically hallucinatory. I don't go beyond that; at that point I just go back to the biggest hot pool and soak awhile.
 

Training for Life

Still New to StrongFirst Forum
I highly recomend taking cold showers. Wim Hof has a free mini-course which explains how to do it after signing up on the site. Start the shower warm and wash. Then change to cold. Expose the limbs first then shoulders and torso. Head last. Build up tolerance slowly. I have only a week's worth of experience, but I am sold. Not so sold on the breathing unless you are coping with extreme cold.
I have been doing cold showers for some time now thanks to discovering Mr. Hof and it truly has a profound effect on a person. I am not even talking about the health benefits here, but the mental effect it has. I highly recommend also doing the WIm Hof breathing exercises. I have been doing them pretty much daily and the breathing exercises followed by a cold shower has drastically changed my baseline mental state to the better.

If I recall correct, when you do the breathing and get to the phase where you hold your breath, your body ups the adrenaline because of a panic response, which in turn releases some chemicals in your body that have benefits on your health. Also, when you do the breathing exercise correctly, you should feel a small "high" afterwards. To me it feels like the uplifting feeling you get after having a few drinks without the disadvantages of alcohol of course ;)
 
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Pantrolyx

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Yeah, I do a WHM breathing session in the morning, cold showers more or less daily, and some occasional outdoor swimming all year around. It is great stuff for recovery and energy boosting! I haven't been home sick from work in years, but I didn't really use to be before i got to know about the method, either.
 

pet'

More than 5000 posts
Hello,

Yes I do the breathing and push ups with empty lungs right after my morning routine (basically, GPP + mobility). Then, I do my cold shower.

For I have done it, I've never got sick. This is also excellent for recovery (at least for my body), even if I do it right after the training.

I also noticed that I manage stress better and I am globally more relaxed.

Kind regards,

Pet'
 

Tirofijo

More than 500 posts
I've been doing cold showers exclusively for last 2 months. I haven't started any breathing exercises.

I don't know if the cold showers do anything, but they are certainly easier now. I could barely stand 30 seconds under the cold water at first. Now I can stand there seemingly indefinitely.

In fact, I sometimes wonder if my water temp isn't cold enough to really get the benefit, but maybe that's just because it seems warmer now. It was cold when I first started.
 

GeoffreyLevens

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In fact, I sometimes wonder if my water temp isn't cold enough to really get the benefit, but maybe that's just because it seems warmer now. It was cold when I first started.
Depending on where you are located...my water temp fluctuates 10-15 deg F between winter and summer and this past couple weeks has been noticeably on its warming trend.
 

George Locke

Double-Digit Post Count
[proposed benefits of Wim Hof Method include]
Alkalize blood a bit
Reduce inflammation
Improve overall autonomic tone
Increase immunity
Anti-depression/mood elevation/euphoria
Better sleep
Over time increase brown fat stores-->increased calorie burn/metabolism
Dramatic increase in ablility to adapt to environmental temperature changes
My background is computational (biophysics), but my work deals with drugs that modulate the immune system, and I have a few things to say about this list. Cold-exposure is a thing that many like, and I'm not knocking it, but a few things on this list are red flags for pseudoscience.

#1: Controlling breath in general is likely to have some effect on blood pH, since breath removes CO2 from the bloodstream, reducing acidity. For most people, this process is autonomically regulated by the brain, so you'd only need to intentionally alkalize your blood if this regulation isn't working. Charitably, the claim is that WHM improves regulation of blood pH, which would only be beneficial to people whose poor regulation is causing some problems. The idea that there are many such people is dubious. Low-level, chronic acidosis is generally regarded as non-symptomatic, whereas if acidosis is actually causing you problems, you should consult a doctor (severe, acute acidosis can put you in a coma very quickly).

#2: "reducing inflammation" vs. "increasing immunity." Inflammation is an immune response. Claims that a particular intervention will reduce inflammation and boost the immune system simultaneously should therefore set off alarm bells whenever you see them. Such contradictory effects suggests cure-all marketing, i.e. smoke and mirrors.

Again, this doesn't mean that Wim Hof has nothing useful to offer; I just want to offer some medical perspective.
 
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guardian7

More than 500 posts
My background is computational (biophysics), but my work deals with drugs that modulate the immune system, and I have a few things to say about this list. Cold-exposure is a thing that many like, and I'm not knocking it, but a few things on this list are red flags for pseudoscience.

#1: Controlling breath in general is likely to have some effect on blood pH, since breath removes CO2 from the bloodstream, reducing acidity. For most people, this process is autonomically regulated by the brain, so you'd only need to intentionally alkalize your blood if this regulation isn't working. Charitably, the claim is that WHM improves regulation of blood pH, which would only be beneficial to people whose poor regulation is causing some problems. The idea that there are many such people is dubious. Low-level, chronic acidosis is generally regarded as non-symptomatic, whereas if acidosis is actually causing you problems, you should consult a doctor (severe, acute acidosis can put you in a coma very quickly).

#2: "reducing inflammation" vs. "increasing immunity." Inflammation is an immune response. Claims that a particular intervention will reduce inflammation and boost the immune system simultaneously should therefore set off alarm bells whenever you see them. Such contradictory effects suggests cure-all marketing, i.e. smoke and mirrors.

Again, this doesn't mean that Wim Hof has nothing useful to offer; I just want to offer some medical perspective.
Pavel said something interesting once. He said the theory doesn't really matter if you can track the results. Any theory will do. It was in reference to why Russian waving of load works or some similar topic.

Even if it is a placebo effect, the cold showers just seem to work. Have you tried it? It is really effective. I immediately started not to need much coffee in the morning and have more energy to last the day.

You make a good point though that the pH thing is a bit suspect. It is kind of like the alkaline diet BS a year or two back. It is like these detox diets. The liver does that stuff. And if it isn't then you probably need a doctor. Right?
 

George Locke

Double-Digit Post Count
@guardian7 I'm actually trying out cold showers currently. I'm not saying don't do it; I'm saying some of those particular named benefits seem unlikely. If you feel effects on mood/energy/etc., then, as you say, it really doesn't matter why it's happening. If the benefits are subjective in essence, and you feel them, then what difference does it make what I have to say? Immune modulation doesn't fall into that category.

Alkaline diet is one of the more silly fads. Almost every single food that is claimed to be alkaline is actually more acidic than your body (e.g. milk, nearly all vegetables). Even if this were not the case, your stomach is ridiculously acidic, and putting lots of base in there on the regular tends to encourage your stomach to compensate by making more acid.

In general, putting ground up engine parts into your gas tank will not improve your mileage.
 

Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
#1: Controlling breath in general is likely to have some effect on blood pH, since breath removes CO2 from the bloodstream, reducing acidity. For most people, this process is autonomically regulated by the brain, so you'd only need to intentionally alkalize your blood if this regulation isn't working.
I don't think that's what's being addressed here. I think this

Bohr effect - Wikipedia

gets closer.

Wiki said:
The Bohr effect enables the body to adapt to changing conditions and makes it possible to supply extra oxygen to tissues that need it the most. For example, when muscles are undergoing strenuous activity, they require large amounts of oxygen to conduct cellular respiration, which generates CO2 (and therefore HCO3− and H+) as byproducts. These waste products lower the pH of the blood, which increases oxygen delivery to the active muscles.
I am certainly not a scientist of any kind, but breath control training can enable this kind of improved oxygen delivery so that it becomes the "new normal." IOW, _how_ "this process is autonomically regulated by the brain" can be and is addressed by some breathing practices that effectively retrain these systems.

-S-
 

jhpowers

More than 300 posts
I spent a couple of years doing the WHM intensely and took both the old and new online course. I was signed up to be an instructor but life got messy and I had to change course. Also, I'll mention that I'm a psychiatrist (and therefore went to medical school). I feel like my medical training gives me some basis to evaluate how rational his theories are. Also, I was interested in the method as a treatment for depression.

The WHM has a lot of potential to it and I suspect will develop into something very substantial over the years. It's main innovation is to combine very old yogic methods with scientific knowledge. Some of the details are worked out and some are still very much in process. Wim does seem genuinely interested in the science and he changes his ideas when the science contradicts what he thinks is going on (e.g. based on neuro-imaging it turns out that he cannot activate brown fat). There is a lot going on with his method: manipulation of the autonomic NS, immune system regulation, alkalinizing the blood, creating altered mental states, etc

The breath work is interesting and he discusses both techniques that create a sympathetic nervous system activation as well as techniques that create a parasympathetic nervous system activation. These breathing techniques can be used to increase power when lifting or facilitate recovery. That was my experience, but I also felt that using them in this way led me to overtrain at times. I thought it could lead to something more interesting, but would need more experience to dial it in.

Many of the WHM principles are incorporated into Laird Hamilton's XPT which seems pretty solid and Laird comes across as less of an eccentric madman.

I developed Afib last year and I suspect that it is not a good idea to manipulate my ANS with breath work at this time (see Michael Pollan's recent book on psychedelics for an example of why not). So, for now, my WHM days are on hold.
 

Bauer

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
#2: "reducing inflammation" vs. "increasing immunity." Inflammation is an immune response. Claims that a particular intervention will reduce inflammation and boost the immune system simultaneously should therefore set off alarm bells whenever you see them. Such contradictory effects suggests cure-all marketing, i.e. smoke and mirrors.

Again, this doesn't mean that Wim Hof has nothing useful to offer; I just want to offer some medical perspective.
I've had the same thought often. Thanks for expressing it that clearly.

However, I have had great results with the WHM breathing. I usually do 1-4 sets right after waking up. Sometimes I think it is not doing much and stop doing it. But when I stop doing it for a couple of days I tend to get more colds - or the colds I get tend to stay longer and express themselves more visibly. So far I have always come back to it and feel better because of it. And it helps me waking up and feeling refreshed.
 

Paul Nathan

Double-Digit Post Count
Regarding the epistemtic claims- I usually feel it's best not to speculate why something works or doesn't work if the knowledge isn't adequately worked out. The model can be seen as a black box and we can not bother building junk science to explain it as we wait for the real science to catch up.

Put another way, it doesn't matter to me, in essence, of the biological mechanisms of how I get stronger, but we all know lifting heavy things quite regularly, going up more over time, will do the trick. And if I speculate it's the pink muscle fairies it doesn't do anyone any good, but to mislead the ignorant. The biology needs to be sound.

The other thing I wonder here is how much of this WHM is placebo and how much biologically actually effectual. Sometimes placebos are quite effective in a strange mind over matter aspect. I can't tell you why the right song gets my mind in the game, but it does. Yet it's not medicinal so as to speak.

Curious stuff. Following this thread with interest.
 

jef

I am a student of strength.
Certified Instructor
The other thing I wonder here is how much of this WHM is placebo and how much biologically actually effectual.
There are a few studies that shows the biological effect of the WHM (the breathing and meditative part). Breathing has a direct effect on blood chemical (without entering into details, it is all about gas regulation - look for Bohr effect and co).

Actually, those are the studies that made me wonder about the long term effect of the WHM breathing. There is a study where a few people trained by WH showed control of the autonomous system. Real measured biological effect. However, their blood pH also became very alkaline, in a short span of time. Being too acidic is bad, but so is being too alkaline.
On my part, I prefer to stick to Buteyko breathing.
On the cold exposure part of WHM, I have no limitation.

Disclaimer: as an Oxygen advantage instructor, and on the way to become a Buteyko practitionner, I am of course biased. However, I base my opinion on practice, but also science and studies.
 

Al Ciampa

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Certified Instructor
The founder of the school that Steve and I subscribe to has a great collection of scientific literature related to respiratory physiology here: (of course the site is down when I need it). (@Steve Freides maybe we can follow through on Eduard’s article page when the site is back up?)

The science is suggestive but isn’t comprehensive enough to strongly connect the dots of breathing practice >> health improvements. Still, it’s quite interesting. Those of us who have seriously undertaken a practice and/or led others through the process “know” of the results possible.

The older I grow and the more I learn, the more I realize that intelligent and effective folks focus on the practice while keeping an eye on the theory. Wandering folks focus on theories and spin their wheels in practice. Pavel’s comments on this topic were echoing Nassim Taleb’s. If the practice works, it will always work; while the theories can continually change. Experience is the greatest instructor of all.

I’ll finish by saying that Wim’s use of breathing is to help endure exposure to cold therapy, which is the core of his method. It’s unfair to him and his method to harvest out the breathing practice and discuss it in isolation.

Buteyko practice, alternatively, has a set of principles and goals within itself, for breath alone. It’s quite different from the common advice to control your breath while you’re currently under duress for momentary improvement. It’s a lifelong and comprehensive health improvement program.
 

jef

I am a student of strength.
Certified Instructor
The older I grow and the more I learn, the more I realize that intelligent and effective folks focus on the practice while keeping an eye on the theory.
This is key.
Understanding the theory can help in some cases, but is absolutely not necessary for most people to practice.
On the other hand, understanding all the theoretical details without practice does not bring the benefits.

I’ll finish by saying that Wim’s use of breathing is to help endure exposure to cold therapy, which is the core of his method. It’s unfair to him and his method to harvest out the breathing practice and discuss it in isolation.
WHF as it was presented when I followed the course is based on three pillars (breathing, meditation and cold exposure), so indeed, none should be taken in isolation.
However, in the specific study that I quoted and shows the control of the autonomous system, it was only breathing and meditation (third eye) that was practiced during the experimentation. The results were real and measurable.
 
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