"The Iceman," Wim Hof (#102)

Wim Hof

“Breathe, motherfucker.”

– Wim Hof


Wim Hof (@Iceman_Hof) is a Dutch world record holder, adventurer and daredevil, commonly nicknamed “The Iceman” for his ability to withstand extreme cold. He is the creator of the Wim Hof Method and holds more than 20 world records. Wim is an outlier of outliers, as he routinely asks scientists to scrutinize and validate his feats. Here are just a few examples:

  • In 2007, he climbed past the “death zone” altitude on Mount Everest (~7,500 meters) wearing nothing but shorts.
  • In 2009, Hof completed a full marathon above the polar circle in Finland, in temperatures close to −20 °C (−4 °F). Dressed in nothing but shorts, Hof finished in 5 hours and 25 minutes.
  • Hof holds the current Guinness World Record for the longest ice bath, now set at 1 hour 53 minutes and 12 seconds.

But it’s not just cold.

  • In 2011, he ran a full marathon in the Namib Desert without water. The run was performed under the supervision of Dr. Thijs Eijsvogels. He can also run at altitude without suffering from altitude sickness.
  • In the same year, he was injected with toxins under doctor supervision and demonstrated that he could effectively control his autonomic immune response. Wim was able to raise his cortisol levels and lower his blood concentrations of cytokines (inflammatory mediators) using solely his meditation and prep techniques.

Not only this, but he was able to train others to achieve the same effect… with only 4 days of training!

We dig into all this and more.  I loved this conversation and hope you do, too…

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"The Iceman," Wim Hof (#102)

Want to hear a podcast related to the science of extreme performance? — Listen to my conversation with Laird Hamilton, who is widely considered the greatest big wave surfer of all-time and who also practices Wim’s techniques. — stream below or right-click here to download:

#89: Laird Hamilton, The King of Big Wave Surfing (Plus: Gabrielle Reece and Brian MacKenzie)

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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What physical feats do you find most impressive? And what physical ability do you wish you could improve? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…


Selected Links from the Episode

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Show Notes

  • Wim’s first world record & his most challenging cold exposures [07:23]
  • What does Wim say to himself if he ends up in an unexpected situation and how does he deal with them [09:28]
  • How Wim controlled stress hormones and his immune response when he was injected with an endotoxin at the Radboud University [11:34]
  • The activities Wim took his subjects through on the first day of training to control their immune response to being injected with an endotoxin [17:46]
  • The reason Wim’s subjects don’t pass out when the oxygen in their blood reaches very low levels [22:14]
  • How the breathing exercises Wim puts his subjects through are used to control their immune response [26:13]
  • Can Wim control his immune response if he contracts a disease without realizing it? [27:33]
  • Why Wim is able to control his immune system and shield himself from diseases [29:22]
  • The ‘impossibles’ Wim thinks we will be able to prove are possible in the next 5 years [33:10]
  • What Wim recommends for someone who is depressed or a person just wants to lift their mood [38:19]
  • Wim’s eating routine and his typical meals [40:45]
  • Does Wim release more DMT during his breath work [43:58]
  • How Wim lowers his body temperature in a hot climate and trains himself to endure high temperatures [47:47]
  • How Wim learned 10 languages [53:03]
  • Wim discusses why people are fat, and how people can develop more brown fat [54:09]
  • How to start breathing for relaxation [56:49]
  • The person who comes to mind when Wim thinks of the word successful [59:27]
  • The steps Wim would tell someone to take if they don’t feel successful [1:00:02]
  • The book Wim has given to other people the most as a gift [1:02:20]
  • How Wim overcame dark times [1:04:17]
  • Wim’s routine in the first 60 minutes of each day [1:07:16]
  • Wim ‘s favorite exercises [1:11:44]
  • The musician Wim looks up to the most and his favorite albums [1:14:00]
  • The purchase Wim has made in the last year for under $100’s that has positively impacted his life
  • Wim finds his stones [1:15:28]
  • The advice Wim would give his 30-year-old self [1:17:19]

People Mentioned

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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136 Replies to “"The Iceman," Wim Hof (#102)”

  1. Listened to this interview again, and I got even more out of it the second time. I’ve been doing cold showers every morning since I first listened to this, and they’ve become a permanent part of my daily ritual. If I can handle an ice cold shower in the morning, I can handle anything.