Anyone worked with Wim Hof Method?

wespom9

Level 6 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
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.
Isn't that the truth. I have followed the XPT work (albeit not overly closely) and from what I gather, it definitely keeps the breathing and ice bath integrated, rather than isolated.

Love @Al Ciampa 's comment on practice vs theory and how practioners just do... what insight. I've read much of Taleb's work and his ideas are thought provoking.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
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.
I have to wonder if any or how much of these breathing resets are effective due to stimulation of the vegus nerve.

I have not and don't do Wim Hoff nor Buteyko, but I did spend over 5 years of daily breath meditation, along the way experimented with positive pressure, below tidal volume exhale, reduced breath frequency etc etc all as part of the observational practice. At this point I'm certain my breathing patterns have been somewhat permanently altered.

It would have been tough for me when I was consistent with my practice and still would be, to tell how and where any benefits were/are coming from exactly. Did the increased awareness allow me to reduce breathing rate based on actual need, did the deliberate manipulation of breath over time help improve awareness, did my lowered HR and BP result from stress relief, Bohr effect...

The positive returns from many of these breathing interventions, superficially, have very similar results.


Furthermore, one of these components: breathing techniques, is a prime candidate to explain the complete pattern of results, notably in the stress-related domain. We have further provided a neurophysiological model in which slow respiration and extended exhalation stimulate VN via two possible routes: rVNS. This results in PNS over SNS dominance, structural and functional changes in higher cortical areas through autonomic projections, and is thus responsible for aforementioned effects.
Breath of Life: The Respiratory Vagal Stimulation Model of Contemplative Activity
 

pet'

Level 8 Valued Member
Hello,

At the very beginning, I was quite skeptical about WHM, despite all the science "proof" we can find on both the Internet and the website per se.

However, I went beyond and just gave a shot. I think it is important to to do consistently for a while, even quite short. After 2 weeks only, I started to feel better, especially in terms of relaxation. So it worked well on me, but firsly on the mental. I was way more relaxed. This is probably due to the diaphragmatic breathing involved. Physical benefits came shortly after.

Kind regards,

Pet'
 

Opiaswing

Level 5 Valued Member
I've tried regular cold showers, diaphragmatic breathing and meditation.

By far the most important thing I have ever adopted is meditation.

Consistency is key, and I really just don't see the long-term potential of putting myself through a deathly uncomfortable cold shower everyday. Meditation can (and often is) uncomfortable enough - it is not about seeking peace but being present with whatever arises and that is often pain, regret, anxiety, etc.

I could speak on meditation for hours - and would love to do so. If anyone has any questions about it please ask, even if you're only slightly curious. Regular practise will surely prompt the biggest change in your life.
 

jhpowers

Level 6 Valued Member
Consistency is key, and I really just don't see the long-term potential of putting myself through a deathly uncomfortable cold shower everyday.
You might google HRV and cold showers. Cold showers are, in many peoples experience, one of the easiest ways to improve HRV quickly. This will aid in you overall athletic recovery and ability to absorb stress. You can also do an N of 1 study. Get a HRV measuring app and a heart rate strap. Do a pre test and post test. See what effect it has on your HRV.

Note: HRV is a measure of parasympathetic tone and gives you some sense of your readiness to absorb physical and emotional stress.
 

Tobias Wissmueller

Level 6 Valued Member
You might google HRV and cold showers. Cold showers are, in many peoples experience, one of the easiest ways to improve HRV quickly. This will aid in you overall athletic recovery and ability to absorb stress. You can also do an N of 1 study. Get a HRV measuring app and a heart rate strap. Do a pre test and post test. See what effect it has on your HRV.
I can relate to that. When EliteHRV put me into the sympathetic zone and I did a WHM session (yoga, breathing, cold shower) it kicked me back into the parasympathetic zone. I have observed this a handful of times. No statistical significance of course.
 

GeoffreyLevens

Level 7 Valued Member
I've tried regular cold showers, diaphragmatic breathing and meditation.

By far the most important thing I have ever adopted is meditation.

Consistency is key, and I really just don't see the long-term potential of putting myself through a deathly uncomfortable cold shower everyday. Meditation can (and often is) uncomfortable enough - it is not about seeking peace but being present with whatever arises and that is often pain, regret, anxiety, etc.
I'd say you are spot on 200% about meditation.

Cold showers though do not need to be a near death experience. Feeling inside my body when I do them (about 3 years now), I can feel what I assume is all the smooth muscles of my lymphatics and blood vessels contracting to the cold and relaxing in warmth.

Approach cold the same way you would lifting heavy weight i.e. start light and work up!

There's 2 things you can do. 3 really. Always start with hot. I do that for the soap and rinse part then turn it down. From comfortable hot just turn it down enough to feel very cool but not AAAARRRRRRHHHH!!!! Over time, days, weeks, months, to your tolerance, gradually lower the temp. The other thing, which may have its own benefits, is going with contrast showers, alternating hot/cold. Start with 2 minutes of hot, then one of cold, and repeat several times. Each cycle the cold feels less shocking.

What seems to me to be going on is that my body-mind can now contract and relax faster and easier without freaking out. AND though it took until recently, I find the cold to be pleasant in a funny sort of way, sort of slippery smooth in a way that hot is not. Bottom line is, remember to go at your pace and not mine or Wim's or anyone else's. I think cold adaptation is both a physical and also very much a mental training.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
Hmmm, for pretty much my entire weight training gym-going experience I used to take ice cold showers - soap up hot, rinse cold.

This was simply to stop the sweat as fast as possible so I could get dressed quickly and get out of there. I do not recall any positive effects from doing so aside from the obvious.

There must be a time component as well - most of the research on cold hydrotherapy is based on immersion, not shower. How long is one expected to stand there, and being it is a shower does it matter where the bulk of it is directed?

I always felt it most on the head or right on the chest at the base of the throat.

I can say my breath meditation makes a cold shower not a big deal, I can adapt and steady my breathing pretty much as fast as the temp changes when I turn off the hot - but I find a hot shower right before bed puts me to sleep while a cold shower does not have the same effect.
 

GeoffreyLevens

Level 7 Valued Member
I think cold showers are mostly "prep" for immersion. There's a hot springs near where I live that has a sauna and above ground "ambient temp" pool. Mid winter, snow on the ground, the water is in the low 40's usually. Truly a completely different experience from a cold shower no matter how long. AND I have found that spending a minute or two under cold shower most days really changed how well I could tolerate getting in that pool. I think most of that change was mental though, being able to relax and not "panic", keep breathing normally...
 

BrianCF

Level 6 Valued Member
When I did the Kettlebell Burn Extreme I took cold showers. And they work for soreness. But they're not a magic pill. You want to freeze you butt off and jump in a cold lake, be my guest. I'll stay in the hot tub.
 

guardian7

Level 6 Valued Member
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.
I think I remember hearing in the Planstrong workshop or some other source that Pavel said that we still don't fully understand the science behind waving volume and intensity. But it just works, so we don't fully need to. The evidence is clear that after linear novice gains, it is the best way forward.
 

guardian7

Level 6 Valued Member
@Al Ciampa, the articles section of the site seems to work fine for me:

Articles on Buteyko Breathing | Advanced Buteyko Institute - ABI

-S-
I wonder if it is time for StrongFirst to synthesize some of these schools of thought and practices into a very basic breathing approach and practice: Buteyko "light", diaphramic breathing, crocodile exercise, breathing behind the shield, explaining diaphramic breathing, military box breathing, integrating fast and loose with breathing for recovery, hissing, valseva? Wim Hof seems too unique to incorporate and proprietary. There are gems scattered throughout various sources, but it would be good to integrate some of the ideas into a framework and adopt it as one of the pillars of Strongfirst. I get benefits from counting breaths and breathing deeply through the nose as suggested in S&S but between rounds of the heavy bag in Muay Thai. It really helps recovery compared to the panting and hunched over posture of most people in the gym. An article would be a good start. It is clear from this thread that there is a lot of interest and people have already adopted various practices. As people in this thread already know, regulating breathing is a game changer in endurance, power, and recovery in resistance, endurance, and martial arts but few people breath well in the general fitness population nevermind the general population.
 

FinlayB

Level 5 Valued Member
a bit of a coincidence seeing this thread today,

there is a basic course for his method happening near my place in a couple of weeks. I am thinking of attending to get an idea of the practices

I have a background in martial arts including qigong, interested to see if there are any crossover
 

Tobias Wissmueller

Level 6 Valued Member
a bit of a coincidence seeing this thread today,

there is a basic course for his method happening near my place in a couple of weeks. I am thinking of attending to get an idea of the practices

I have a background in martial arts including qigong, interested to see if there are any crossover
Give it a try. The experience is definitely worth it no matter if you will stick with the method or not.

I went to a Wim Hof Experience in Munich last year and although I don’t actively practice the method I partially pick from what I have learned whenever I need it.
 

pet'

Level 8 Valued Member
Hello,

I think what @Tobias Wissmueller said is important. Sometimes, this is good to just pick up what we need. As Bruce Lee said "Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless".

My boxing teacher uses the WHM mainly as something to recover a little bit faster. He also sees an interesting thing in the "mental battle" of the cold exposure.

Nonetheless, he is not interested at all in the meditation side of it.

Kind regards,

Pet'
 

Opiaswing

Level 5 Valued Member
You might google HRV and cold showers. Cold showers are, in many peoples experience, one of the easiest ways to improve HRV quickly. This will aid in you overall athletic recovery and ability to absorb stress. You can also do an N of 1 study. Get a HRV measuring app and a heart rate strap. Do a pre test and post test. See what effect it has on your HRV.

Note: HRV is a measure of parasympathetic tone and gives you some sense of your readiness to absorb physical and emotional stress.
I'd say you are spot on 200% about meditation.

Cold showers though do not need to be a near death experience. Feeling inside my body when I do them (about 3 years now), I can feel what I assume is all the smooth muscles of my lymphatics and blood vessels contracting to the cold and relaxing in warmth.

Approach cold the same way you would lifting heavy weight i.e. start light and work up!

There's 2 things you can do. 3 really. Always start with hot. I do that for the soap and rinse part then turn it down. From comfortable hot just turn it down enough to feel very cool but not AAAARRRRRRHHHH!!!! Over time, days, weeks, months, to your tolerance, gradually lower the temp. The other thing, which may have its own benefits, is going with contrast showers, alternating hot/cold. Start with 2 minutes of hot, then one of cold, and repeat several times. Each cycle the cold feels less shocking.

What seems to me to be going on is that my body-mind can now contract and relax faster and easier without freaking out. AND though it took until recently, I find the cold to be pleasant in a funny sort of way, sort of slippery smooth in a way that hot is not. Bottom line is, remember to go at your pace and not mine or Wim's or anyone else's. I think cold adaptation is both a physical and also very much a mental training.
These are interesting points. I don't know an awful lot about the Wim Hof method so hearing the benefits is cool. Do you think these cold showers would improve physical performance? I guess this relates to HRV?

Conscious breathing has definitely improved my physical performance - including breath holds. I was recently reading about Breathology and did the 30 day breath holding challenge. Whilst I didn't manage to hold my breath for 30 days, I did learn a lot about how our awareness of, and our relationship to, our breathing can affect performance and wellbeing in general.

Try holding your breath for as long as you can. You will find as you get closer and closer to needing to breath, your body starts to panic (naturally) which makes you need to breath sooner. The more you learn to remain calm and composed when your body starts freaking out during this period, the longer you can hold your breath. When you do finally let go (don't pass out, please), you can then be conscious of your heavier, faster breathing whilst it catches up, and focus on letting the breath be as it is whilst gently slowing it down. With practise, your breath won't need to 'catch up' as much and this is how slower, deeper breathing and lower resting heart rate manifests.

It's amazing to see how 'malleable' your breath is with a bit of practise. Bit of a ramble but I am amazed at the depth of breathing practises; it seems never ending!

I bet this would be great with cold showers, largely due to the fact they make me panic breathe like a mf'er!

I don't really do yoga, but my understanding is that the idea is to adopt uncomfortable positions which put stress and strain on muscles, but remain present and breath with the discomfort instead of trying to escape it. Is this along the same thread to the theory behind cold showers?

Now that I think about it, since meditation and conscious breathing practises I am much more apt to stay present in uncomfortable situations and just explore the 'harsh' sensations as opposed to running away in my thoughts or resistance the feelings.
 
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North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
I adopted a practice of long held exhale, and used this in my day to day as well. While doing something like driving it might average 25 seconds between inhales, while sitting it could run >30 per on average ( I only timed it a handful of occasions and would sometimes count exhales while commuting to work).

One thing that always amazed me about breath meditation is how much heat is generated - I would have expected it to go down. Sitting in a room cold enough to be uncomfortable and I'd be almost overheating after 20 minutes. Normally only assuming conscious control over my breath for the first 5 minutes or so. Only if very distracted or agitated will I stay dialed in longer.
 

jef

I am a student of strength.
Certified Instructor
One thing that always amazed me about breath meditation is how much heat is generated - I would have expected it to go down. Sitting in a room cold enough to be uncomfortable and I'd be almost overheating after 20 minutes.
This is a consequence of reduced breathing. When you feel the heat while staying relax, you are doing it right.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
This is a consequence of reduced breathing. When you feel the heat while staying relax, you are doing it right.

Why? Would this would be indicative of increased metabolism at some level, or improved circulation? One would think your metabolic rate would slow down being that still and reducing any active effort on the exhale.

All very interesting.
 
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