Wim Hof’s Daily Routine: How It Can Benefit You

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Wim Hof Method" by Wim Hof. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What is Wim Hof’s daily routine? How did he develop it? How can practicing his routine benefit your health?

Renowned motivational speaker Wim Hof (a.k.a. The Iceman) claims that the Wim Hof Method—a system based on cold exposure, conscious breathing, and mental dedication—can transform your health. He advocates for creating a daily routine based on this method to gain the most benefits.

Keep reading for an overview of Wim Hof’s daily routine, including a thought exercise to motivate your routine.

Overview of Wim Hof’s Daily Routine   

In The Wim Hof Method book, Wim Hof (a.k.a. The Iceman) describes how he ultimately discovered his own mission: sharing the Wim Hof Method, which he started developing in his late teens. He narrates that after dropping out of school, he moved into a squatter’s home at 17 and spent his days living as he chose. He soon became intrigued by an icy pond at nearby Beatrixpark—and one day, he went into the water naked. Despite only staying in the water for a short time, Hof felt invigorated. Wim Hof’s daily routine involved experimenting with staying in the water longer and trying different breathing patterns to see how they affected his body. He did this every day, every winter, for 25 years and learned about cold exposure and conscious breathing.

However, Hof didn’t discover the healing power of these techniques until several years later. In 1995, Hof’s first wife died by suicide after a long battle with her mental health. Hof contends that he was able to survive and heal from this tragedy for two reasons: the reality that he needed to care for his four children and his daily excursions into cold water. In this way, Wim Hof discovered how powerful his daily routine was—and he turned it into the Wim Hof Method in hopes that he could help others heal themselves, too. 

Benefits of the Wim Hof Daily Routine

Why is a Wim Hof daily routine beneficial? According to Hof, continually practicing the Wim Hof Method has two major benefits: You gain greater control over unconscious physical processes, and you unlock enlightenment.

First, Hof argues that by continually practicing his method, you can access your “will”—your power over unconscious physical processes. Hof argues that by improving your understanding of your body, you improve your ability to impact it. By repeatedly exposing yourself to cold and practicing breathwork, you fine-tune your understanding of your physical body—notably, your interoception (your understanding of what’s happening within your body, such as whether you’re wired or tired). As a result, you improve your ability to manage the unconscious physical processes you can now sense—like your heartbeat. 

Other Benefits of Improving Your Interoception

There is a lack of research on whether improving your understanding of your body can help you control your unconscious physical processes, but research does suggest that improving your interoception has some of the benefits Hof attributes to his method. Notably, experts suggest that if you have better interoception, you have better mental health because you’re good at understanding how you feel and responding appropriately.

So how can you improve your interoception? Researchers have found that exercise can help: By getting you accustomed to how your heart feels when it’s physically stressed (from exercise), exercise improves your ability to determine if your heart rate has risen due to physical or emotional stress—which in turn improves your ability to respond appropriately to the stressor. 

Second, Wim Hof argues that practicing a daily routine of his method will eventually lead to enlightenment. Hof failed to achieve greater spiritual understanding by reading ancient Indian scriptures. It was only when he stopped thinking and focused instead on merely feeling the cold and his breath that Hof found what he calls the “inner voice”—an innate understanding of what you truly need in any particular moment. Similarly, Hof argues that by continually practicing his method and focusing on the feelings in your body instead of stimuli in the outside world, you can find your own inner voice—which will lead you to a higher truth. 

How Hof’s Techniques Compare to Other Paths to Enlightenment

Although Hof may be unique in connecting cold exposure to spiritual enlightenment, several traditions have connected breathwork and meditation to a higher sense of spirituality. Buddhists believe that meditating in several different ways can lead to enlightenment. Hof’s techniques appear most similar to the Buddhist meditation practice of shamatha, which involves paying attention to your body, as well as metta, which involves sending loving thoughts out into the world. 

In contrast, holotropic breathwork practitioners believe that breathwork can improve your sense of spirituality. Like Hof, they believe that, through breathwork, you can access the innate understanding you have of what’s most important. Unlike Hof, after the breathwork, they process these insights externally either by drawing them or discussing them with another person.

Exercise: Believe in Hof’s Daily Routine 

According to Wim Hof, you’ll only benefit from a daily routine of cold exposure and breathwork if you truly believe that these techniques can benefit you. But what if you’re skeptical? Try this exercise to work through any potential skepticism you may have to help you reap the maximum benefits from Hof’s techniques.

  • What do you hope to gain from practicing Hof’s techniques?
  • How confident are you that Hof’s methods will work? Are you skeptical? Explain your reasoning.
  • What’s one thing you can learn or do to help you feel more confident in Hof’s methods so that you can maximize their benefits? For example, if you’re concerned about whether Hof’s methods will work for your medical condition, you might want to call your doctor.
Wim Hof’s Daily Routine: How It Can Benefit You

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  • The story of renowned motivational speaker Wim Hof (a.k.a. The Iceman)
  • How Hof learned to survive dangerously low temperatures
  • Why and how you should practice Hof's breathing exercises

Emily Kitazawa

Emily found her love of reading and writing at a young age, learning to enjoy these activities thanks to being taught them by her mom—Goodnight Moon will forever be a favorite. As a young adult, Emily graduated with her English degree, specializing in Creative Writing and TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), from the University of Central Florida. She later earned her master’s degree in Higher Education from Pennsylvania State University. Emily loves reading fiction, especially modern Japanese, historical, crime, and philosophical fiction. Her personal writing is inspired by observations of people and nature.

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