The Way of the Iceman

The Way of the Iceman

Summary of The Way of the Iceman by Wim Hof and Koen De Jong: in this book, the authors describe how to access the human body‘s numerous resources by way of the “Wim Hof” method, which is based on breath control and cold training.

By Wim Hof and Koen De Jong, 2018, 190 pages.

Review and Summary of The Way of the Iceman by Wim Hof and Koen De Jong

Testimonials, Prefaces, and Prologue

The book begins with several testimonials from people who have tested Wim Hof’s method. Everyone agrees: this simple methodbased on breathing and cold training, brings a fascinating combination of mental and physical benefits.

In this first part, we learn how Wim Hof’s method can considerably increase our energy levels, improve blood circulationreduce stressstrengthen our immune system, and help combat many illnesses.

The book was written by Koen De Jong. However, he points out that Wim Hof was responsible for most of the content. He states that The Way of the Iceman is [a reflection on these experiences, and of course on the techniquebehind-the-scenes, and foundations of Wim’s method.]

1. Introduction

1.1 – The three fundamentals of the “Wim Hof” method

The authors begin by explaining that the Wim Hof” method is made up of three elements:

  • Breathing exercises.
  • Cold training.
  • Commitment.

This method is the result of all the years Wim Hof has spent training in the wild, pushing his body to the limit, until he became known as “The Iceman.”

1.2 – A breakthrough discovery

The book explains how Wim Hof’s method enables us to control and influence our autonomic nervous system. This method involves:

  • Performing certain breathing exercises.
  • Exposure to cold.

Moreover, the authors assert that these two practices are only possible with genuine commitment.

As a result, by following the method, we can control what happens in our bodies, with the aim of, among other things:

  • Curing autoimmune diseases.
  • Regulating excess weight (our body will use our energy stores as fuel).
  • Increasing our energy levels, even if we’re already in good health.

2. Wim Hof

In the second part of The Way of the Iceman, Koen De Jong tells the story of the man who gave his name to the method and co-wrote this book with him: Wim Hof.

In particular, he explains why Wim Hof decided to take on the cold and challenge his limits to become the man we now call “The Iceman.”

2.1 – Wim Hof’s childhood: cold, yoga, meditation, and India

Wim Hof hails from the Netherlands.

Even as a childWim was drawn to the cold and snow. Koen De Jong tells an anecdote on this subject: one night, a neighbor of the Hof family found little Wim, aged 7, dozing outside in the freezing cold. The boy [had left his bed, gone outside, and fallen asleep in the snow. If the neighbor hadn’t found him, he would probably have frozen to death,] says the author.

As a child, Wim also loved to read. By the age of nine, he was already immersed in books on yoga and meditation, influenced by his older brother who traveled a lot. At ten, Wim learned yoga completely on his own.

When he was 17, Wim decided to leave school and travel to India. There, he hoped to meet a teacher who could teach him what mattered in life. As soon as he arrived in India, the teenager enjoyed swimming in the Ganges, renowned for its powerful currents, so much so that many people thought he was crazy.

2.2 – The discovery of cold water

Still in India, one day young Wim discovered a waterfall on the Ganges amidst immense mountains. It gave him great strength and inner peace. He felt the need to dive in. Despite the danger, he jumped into the water, swam, and, once beneath the very cold waterfall, felt a “marvelous experience“:

[The sensation of a strength and power far greater than himself had pervaded him. And from that day on, he fell in love with the icy water.]

2.3 – A life of asceticism and love

After this discovery, Wim decides to return to Amsterdam. It was 1979, and he was 20 years old.

The young man settled in a small squat where he led an ascetic life, quite different from the ninety other hippie squatters living with him. Wim would practice a lot of yoga and eat very little.

It was during this period that he also met Olaya, a young Spanish-Basque woman. The two fell madly in love. Inseparable, they enjoyed a platonic relationship for a year, before Olaya returned home.

This encounter would play a decisive role in the rest of Wim’s story

2.4 – Travel and new bodily perceptions

Wim then left for Senegal by bike with his twin brother. During this trip, he became aware of the sun’s impact on his mind. Constantly exposed to the sun’s rays, he realized how naturally his negative thoughts and memories disappeared. During his journey, Wim had another powerful experience: he felt his body and mind become one.

It’s another awakening for him.

During his journey, a special encounter with a friend led him to practice yoga even more intensively.

After his trip to Senegal, Wim Hof headed back to India.

There, the young man set out in search of nature. He trained himself to live in extreme conditions and discovered that by controlling his breathing, he was able to endure extreme negative temperatures for several days without eating. He began to perceive his body differently.

2.5 – Author’s comments

Koen De Jong makes a small side note here: he states that he wants to tell the story of Wim Hof in order to introduce the reader to the origins of the “Wim Hof” method. He insists on one point, however: the method taught by Wim Hof does not in any way require us to confront extreme situations, as he himself has done in his life. In other words, you don’t have to dive into a frozen lake to enjoy the benefits of the method.

2.6 – Olaya, Wim Hof’s sad love story

After two years apart, Olaya and Wim decide to reunite. When they meet again, their love is as intense as ever. They married and took an apartment together in Amsterdam for a while, before moving to the Pyrenees. Between 1983 and 1986, the couple gave birth to three children.

During this period, Wim did a lot of mountaineering but took ill-considered risks, which infuriated Olaya. Feeling responsible for his family, Wim stopped climbing. To channel his desire to climb, Wim meditates, developing a breathing technique that enables him to stay underwater for six minutes.

Despite this, tensions with his wife intensify. Olaya suffers several bouts of depression. The family returns to Amsterdam. A fourth child is born in 1998.

Wim does his best to be a good father, but he still feels the need to get away from his daily routine and experience the thrill of life. As for Olaya, she sinks deeper and deeper into depression, while refusing to seek treatment. She sometimes leaves without saying a word to Wim for several months ata time, throwing tantrumsthreatening suicide and divorce.

It was a chaotic time for the family, who moved back and forth between Spain and Holland. Powerless, Wim starts climbing again to cope. But tragedy strikes:

[One day, while Hof was alone in the mountains, Olaya jumped from the eighth floor of his parents’ house in Pamplona.]

2.7 – Moving on through nature

Olaya’s suicide is devastating for his four children and fills Wim with guilt. For years, he devoted himself entirely to his children, with occasional breaks to recharge his batteries. In Amsterdam, he introduces them to nature and climbing the highest trees. He wanted to show them that we are all capable of surpassing our limits.

Later on, Wim would remarry and have a fifth child.

2.8 – The Iceman

As his children grew up, Wim sought new challenges.

His breathing techniques, yoga, and cold training gave him great strength. He set a string of records, including:

  • Taking the longest ice bath.
  • Climbing snow-covered mountains in shorts.
  • Running a marathon in Lapland at -30 degrees.
  • Swimming hundreds of meters under the ice.

These feats earned him the nickname “The Iceman.”

Over time, the media began to talk about Wim Hof. He felt the need to share his knowledge and method with as many people as possible. Together with his eldest son, the record-holder organizes training courses.

Both observe impressive results in people and see many pathologies healed thanks to the Wim Hof method.

3. Cold Training

3.1 – The benefits of cold

In the third part of The Way of the Iceman, Koen De Jong begins by discussing our relationship with cold.

He explains, in fact, that we tend to protect ourselves from the cold and do everything to avoid it for the sake of comfort, in order to maintain pleasant sensations.

However, according to Wim Hof, this is a mistake. He argues that the cold has beneficial effects on both physical and mental health, and that protecting oneself from it is not a good habit. Many Nordic countries have understood this, which is why certain populations frequently swim in ice holes.

Cold is good for:

  • Blood circulation.
  • The heart.
  • Hair shine.
  • The skin.
  • Energy gain.
  • Morale.
  • Immunity.
  • Self-confidence.

3.2 – Blood vessels

How does our blood system react to cold?

To understand the benefits of cold, Koen De Jong and Wim Hof take a look at how our blood vessels function and what happens in our bodies when we come into contact with cold. 

They point out that it is our gigantic network of arteries and veins that transports blood throughout our body. So, if our blood system is functioning optimally, our whole body benefits.

Yet when we’re confronted with intense cold – diving into an icy lake, for example – our body will shut off blood flow to the least vital parts. Why? Because when our body temperature drops below 35°C, it’s harder for our blood system to work. By redirecting blood only to our vital organs, our body prioritizes their blood supply and ensures that they continue to function properly.

Getting used to the cold creates a more resistant body

As we’ve seen, when we come into contact with cold, our blood vessels open and close to protect our vital organs.

Thanks to these previous explanations, we now understand why getting our body used to the cold makes it more resistant: regular exposure to the cold causes our body to open and close our blood vessels. Our blood system will perform better, we’ll have more energy, and we’ll be in a better mood.

3.3 – Gradual, regular exposure to the cold is imperative to avoid damage to our health

The dangers of ‘bad’ practice

However, Koen De Jong warns that the process of cold training must be gradual.

Exposure to very cold temperatures can be dangerous. Untrained exposure to the cold for too long can cause irreversible injury. In fact, when body temperature drops below 35°C, the body goes into hypothermia. Metabolism slows down. We can lose consciousness, and the cold can be lethal.

The two secrets of good cold training

The author states that Wim Hof, aka “The Iceman,” is able to maintain his body temperature at 37°C for half an hour in an ice tank, keeping his heart and blood pressure stable. We can’t. That’s why vigilance and patience are a must.

So, how does Wim Hof manage to achieve this feat?

A specific breathing technique

Here, Koen De Jong mentions the results of a study carried out on Wim Hof, which showed that his metabolism increased by 300% when exposed to cold. Whereas people naturally shiver and tremble to maintain their temperature, Wim Hof manages to maintain his body heat thanks to breathing exercises carried out beforehand. The breathing technique he uses enables him to control his autonomic system, and with training, to produce heat more easily than a normal person.

Regular, progressive practice

Regular, progressive exposure to cold enables the body to produce brown fat, which, by burning fatty acids and glucose, becomes a source of heat and protects against hypothermia.

3.4 – The cold increases white blood cell production to better defend against infection

According to the authors, cold training not only improves the blood system. It also increases the production of white blood cells, which enable the body to defend itself against infections such as viruses, fungi, and bacteria.

The authors report that research has shown that people who take a cold shower every day have more white blood cells.

By producing more white blood cells, cold training would have an effect on a number of physical problems such as fungal and viral infections.

3.5 – Challenges, exercises, and an inspiring story

To conclude the third part of the book, Koen De Jong describes a collective challenge that has shown interesting results in terms of the benefits of cold, tells us the story of a man who cured himself of an illness thanks to the cold, and proposes exercises to be carried out as an introduction to cold training.

The “cool challenge”

Wim Hof was also able to see the benefits of cold on the 3,000 volunteers who took part in the so-called “cool challenge” initiated in 2015 by the Amsterdam Medical Center.

For participants, the aim of the challenge was to take a cold shower for several days. The results showed that people quickly got used to the cold and that their blood circulation improved.

The story of Jack Egberts

The story tells how cold training helped Leeuwarden lawyer Jack Egberts, who suffers from Lyme disease, to regain his energy and how, after a week’s exposure to the cold, his symptoms disappeared, whereas traditional treatments had not helped him.

Do-it-yourself exercises to get started

Koen de Jong and Wim Hof then provide us with a few exercises we can do ourselves:

  • Taking cold showers, with prior preparation including breathing exercises. The main idea is to breathe calmly under the cold water to make the sensation of cold more bearable.
  • The bucket of ice water: this method involves placing your hands in ice until they warm up. Wim Hof calls this phenomenon “collateral smear.” It is due to two hormones secreted at that moment.

Wim Hof recommends trying these exercises for at least a month. After that, you can raise the difficulty.

4. Breathing Exercises

4.1 – The benefits of breathing

In the fourth part of The Way of the Iceman, Koen De Jong and Wim Hof discuss the importance of breathing with regard to our overall well-being as well as its role in applying the Wim Hof method.

They explain that most people breathe between 13 and 22 times per minute at rest. However, a resting breathing frequency of between 6 and 10 breaths is sufficient.

Fortunately, it’s quite possible to improve the way we breathe by doing breathing exercises. These exercises have a number of benefits.

They can:

  • Help us relax.
  • Boost our energy levels.
  • Enhance our quality of sleep.
  • Reduce headaches.
  • Improve athletic performance.
  • Relieve back and neck pain.
  • Relieve GI problems.

4.2 – Learn to breathe better

To learn how to breathe better, Wim Hof recommends:

  • Start by observing your breathing rhythmcounting the number of breaths you take per minute. The authors describe a do-it-yourself exercise for this purpose and then draw your attention to the fact that if, during this exercise, your resting breathing rate is too high, or if it is irregular, then this could lead to health problems.
  • Practice breathing exercises, yoga, or meditation: it has been scientifically proven that these activities promote good breathing and offer numerous benefits to the body.

4.3 – Buteyko and Van der Poel breathing techniques

Contrary to what many people think, it’s not just by meditating that we learn breathing techniques. There are other ways to master them.

As an example, Koen De Jong and Wim Hof mention a breathing method popular in the Netherlandsthat of Buteyko and Van der Poel.

The Buteyko technique

Konstantin Buteyko was a Ukrainian physician of the last century (1923-2003) who suffered from high blood pressure and headaches. After observing his breathing, he realized the link between breathing and his health problems. He then decided to practice breathing exercises and, in this way, managed to lower his blood pressure and calm his headaches. By continuing to practice, he even regained normal blood pressure without taking any medication.

Buteyko then experimented with his techniques on asthma patientswho also managed to calm their attacks by practicing calm breathing.

Backed by a team of specialists, Buteyko continued his research into the benefits of breathing and its effects on the body and disease. 

The Van der Poel technique

When Buteyko’s studies began to make their way into mainstream medicine, Stans Van der Poel (1955- ), a laboratory assistant in pulmonary function, set about developing work along the same lines, with the aim of giving breathing exercises a greater place in healthcare.

Fully equipped, she made other discoveries in addition to Buteyko’s diagnoses: she uncovered the usefulness and impact of breathing with patients suffering from chronic fatigue, burn-out, fibromyalgia, and myalgic encephalomyelitis.

Over time, Buteyko and Van der Poel’s breathing exercises have become increasingly popular.

4.4 – How breathing works

To help us understand, the authors go on to describe the physiology of breathing.

Oxygen and carbon dioxide

First of all, as we all know, we breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide:

  • Oxygen, transported to our bloodstream by the lungs, is carried throughout the body. It enables the body to generate energy from nutrients.
  • Carbon dioxide is transported in the opposite direction. But it’s not just a waste product: it helps keep blood vessels open during inhalation, for better oxygen uptake in the cells.

Breathing is linked to the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in our blood, but it’s also connected to our heart rate.

As such, a healthy heart and body require the heart to beat faster during inhalation and slower during exhalation.

The authors also explain that there is a link between variations in heart rate and mental health. They refer to scientific studies by French psychiatrist David Servan-Schreiber on this subject. He has shown that:

  • People suffering from depression have lower heart rate variations than others.
  • The emotional brain varies heart rate: in fact, the autonomic nervous system is constantly speeding up and slowing down the heart. This is why the interval between two heartbeats is never the same.

Koen de Jong and Wim Hof indicate that the acceleration and deceleration of the heart correspond to the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems:

  • The sympathetic system is the gas pedal. It is associated with action. If it prevails, the heart rate increases.
  • The parasympathetic system is linked to recovery and lowers the heart rate. Reduced activity of this system can lead to health problems. Breathing exercises such as cardiac coherence and mindfulness meditation can activate it.  

Koen de Jong recommends that we do as “The Iceman” does: concentrate on our heart rate. If it varies with our breathing, all is well.

4.5 – Health problems caused by poor breathing

Problems linked to an imbalance between oxygen and carbon dioxide

The book points out how poor breathing could lead to health problems such as:

  • Pain in the shoulders or neck.
  • Restlessness.
  • Intestinal problems.
  • Fatigue.
  • Heart palpitations.

These problems often stem from a poor breathing rhythm or an imbalance between oxygen and carbon dioxide.

According to the authors, studies show that anxiety disorders can be relieved through breathing techniques.

They also point outthat breathing:

  • Too rapid is a sign of stress (acute stress or post-traumatic stress).
  • Calm breathing should be automatic, but it isn’t in most people.

According to Koen de Jong, it’s excessive stimulation, worry, and mental pressure that affect our breathing.

4.6 – Breathing and the brain of “The Iceman”

Koen de Jong goes on to explain that the human brain is made up of three parts:

  • The limbic system or emotional (center of the) brain, which we share with mammals.
  • The reptilian brain, which manages our primary, physiological needs and therefore regulates basic functions such as heart rate.
  • The neocortex: this is the rational part of our brain, and the youngest in the evolution of the human brain. We use the neocortex – which distinguishes us from animals, who lack it – to speak, analyze, and calculate. It also filters external stimuli. Yet research shows that today, a human being is exposed to as many stimuli as a medieval man throughout his entire life.

The authors contend that we receive too many signals for what we can process. This over-stimulates the neocortex and leads to faster breathing.

In this sense, the neocortex is a useful element to consider if we want to slow down our breathing.

4.7 – Breathing exercises to relax and control your body and mind

For relaxation

Here, Koen De Jong shares a breathing exercise designed to help you relax. It involves:

  • Inhaling through the nose, exhaling through the nose, break.
  • Breathing in, breathing out, break.

It’s also possible to exhale through the mouth if you don’t feel relaxed enough. It’s a good idea to do this exercise for at least two minutes to prepare for the exercises in the “Wim Hof” method, says the author.

For mind and body control

These breathing exercises are not designed for relaxation. They are designed to help us take control of our mind and body so that we can influence our autonomic nervous system.

They have their origins in a Tibetan technique called Tummo meditation.

“Tummo” is a technique that combines breathing and visualization. Specifically, it involves breathing in deeply and exhaling slowly. As you breathe, visualize fire to raise your body temperature.

This meditation has been influenced by Tantrism and Hinduism. It comes from the Vajrayana religion. Wim Hof points out that you don’t have to be a believer to benefit from it.

Researchers in Singapore tested this method on nuns and found that women practicing Tummo raised their body temperature to 38.3°C in a -25°C environment. They were also able to dry wet fabrics in which they were wrapped.

Wim Hof confesses that he didn’t learn Tummo from a religion: he learned it from nature. The most important thing is to experience it to feel it, not to believe in it. His favorite phrase is:

[To feel is to understand.]

4.8 – “Wim Hof” breathing exercises

Performing the exercises

Wim Hof recommends that you don’t do these exercises alone. In fact, it’s best to do them accompanied at first.

Wim Hof then explains how to perform the exercises and how to breathe: 30 repetitions of breathing in and out, then holding your breath and repeating until you feel tingling or dizzy.

Through a chemical process described by Koen de Jong, these repetitions of deep breathing help generate more energy within our cells.

The pineal gland

Koen de Jong states that after doing his exercises, people experience an [expanded state of consciousness.] This is due, he explains, to increased mitochondrial activity. This activity stimulates the pineal gland responsible for producing melatonin, a hormone that plays an important role in the sleep cycle and reproductive rhythms. This is why these breathing exercises are so effective in helping with sleep problemsjet lag, and depression.

Breath retention

In the course of your breathing exercises, you’ll progress; little by little, you’ll be able to hold your breath longer with practice. This is an indicator of whether the method is working.

4.9 – The effects of the “Wim Hof” (MWH) breathing exercises | Summary

At the end of this fourth section, the authors remind us that the breathing exercises in Wim Hof’s method, “The Iceman”, can:

  •  Rectify a “disharmonious breathing pattern” correlated with health problems.
  • Modify brain activity.
  • Provide relaxation.
  • Act on our pineal gland.

5. Commitment

Koen De Jong kicks off this section by stressing an essential point: to apply the Wim Hof method, you have to be truly committed, especially at the beginning. It’s not easy to stand under cold water for two minutes and practice the breathing exercises. So, you need time and motivation.

He then provides examples that show what the body is capable of when we’re really committed to something.

5.1 – Running a marathon shirtless in the Arctic Circle

The most difficult experiment undertaken by Wim Hof was to run a marathon above the Arctic Circle. Wim Hof completed this challenge at the age of 50, at -16°C, in his shorts. To pass on his knowledge, Wim wanted to have experienced what he was saying. It also enabled him to demonstrate the power of mental commitment in physical training.

Physical training vs. training through the power of commitment

Unlike most people who train for a marathon, Wim Hof didn’t follow any special program. He hardly ran at all before the event. He only trained for the cold and the control of his thoughts through commitment.

Here’s what he did to prepare:

  • Swimming in the Amsterdam canals in the middle of the night.
  • Cold training in a slaughterhouse cold room at -25°C.
  • Intensify his breathing exercises.

Each time, he felt more confident and in a better mood.

Meeting the challenge

Wim Hof trained in the cold on the eve of the marathon in Finland. Feeling good, he decided to take up the challenge.

The first two hours went well. Fatigue set in after three hours, as he began to suffer from the cold. Nevertheless, Wim Hof completed his mission in 5 hours and 25 minutes.

Such an extreme commitment seemed possible only for a few exceptional individuals. However, Wim Hof refused to think that way. To prove that anyone could do it, he decided to set off for the summit of Kilimanjaro accompanied by others.

5.2 – Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

First ascent

In 2014, Wim Hof decided to climb the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. While the most experienced climbers take 6 days to reach the summit, he and his group planned to complete the ascent in 48 hours.

He wanted to set off as part of a group to show that he wasn’t exceptional.

Some of the people accompanying him were chronically ill. Others had no climbing experience. But for Wim Hof, if everyone concentrated on their breathing and used their cold training, the group would succeed in reaching the summit. The key was to practice breathing exercises during the ascent in pairs.

Wim decided to make the ascent shirtless and in shorts.

Forty-eight hours later, 24 of the 26 climbers reached the summit. It was quite a feat, especially as the group had no previous climbing experience. The expedition was reported in the media, and everyone wondered how they had done it.

“The Iceman” was convinced of the effectiveness of his exercises. Commitment had been a decisive factor as well.

Second ascent

In January 2015, Wim Hof embarked on another Kilimanjaro adventure. This time, Wim Hof and his new group wanted to reach the summit in under 36 hours. Wim wanted to show that we can do much more than we think we can.

Thanks to his method, 15 out of 19 group members reached the summit shirtless.

5.3 – Side effects of the “Wim Hof” method

All those who have practiced this method note several effects. They:

  • Sleep better.
  • Regularly do physical activity.
  • Enjoy walking barefoot.
  • Eat less.

The author details the two most notable effects:

Walking barefoot

Many people who take up Wim Hof’s method enjoy walking barefoot (8 out of 10 people surveyed confirmed their desire to go barefoot). Wim himself walks barefoot most of the time. 

Barefoot walkers claim it has a positive effect on their health.

For the authors,our modern lifestyles isolate us from the earth, with negative effects on our health. Walking in contact with the earth can boost energy levels.


People who have tried Wim’s method have begun to eat differently. Wim Hof hardly eats at all, eating for no more than 5 hours a day in the evening. He then eats as much as he likes and whatever he feels like.

Koen de Jong reports on the research into weight gain carried out by the doctor Bert Herring, who was himself overweight: it shows that what counts most is not only what we eat, but also how often we eat. He also found that, apart from humans, all large mammals eat only once a day and are not overweight.

Dr. Bert Herring then experimented with a way of eating that consisted of eating only between 5 and 10 p.m. for a month. During this 5-hour period, he allowed himself to eat whatever and as much as he wanted (although Herring recommended eating nutritious foods such as vegetables and meat).

At the end of his experiment, the results were astonishing: Herring saw muscles appear on his body that he had never seen before. He lost weight. His blood pressure dropped, and his gums were no longer infected. He regained his energy and even felt the urge to take up sport again. The first few days are the hardest, because you’re hungry, he says. But eventually, your body gets used to it. The urge to eat naturally diminishes.

6. “The Iceman” and Science

Wim Hof’s method has attracted the attention of many scientists. Researchers try to explain his exploits. How does this man manage to influence his autonomic nervous and immune systems? What he does with his body is extraordinary… And it all seems contrary to what is taught in medical schools…

6.1 – Can the autonomic nervous system be influenced?

Part 6 of The Way of the Iceman begins by reminding us that our bodies function throughout our lives without our needing to control them. That’s why we use the term autonomic system.

Our immune system also functions without our awareness.

 Conventional science says it’s impossible to influence them. Wim Hof disagrees.

First scientific experiment

The researchers tried to find out if Wim was telling the truth. They injected him with a toxin that has been known for millions of years. This toxin is not fatal to humans: it only causes flu-like symptoms. They did the same on 11 other people. The result showed that, thanks to his breathing exercises, Wim Hof developed no symptoms at all, whereas the other members of the experiment all fell ill.

This experiment suggests that it is probably possible to influence our autonomic nervous system. However, there is no scientific proof of this yet.

Second scientific experiment

A second experiment was carried out in the same way, but this time with people who had learned the Wim Hof method. As it turned out, they all remained in good health. Their adrenalin levels were high before the toxin was injected, meaning that the autonomic nervous system was highly active.

Despite these results, scientists remained cautious.  However, after further research, the author writes that new scientific results proved that the people in the second experiment had indeed been able to influence their autonomic nervous system.

6.2 – Is the Wim Hof method effective against inflammatory diseases?

Natural adrenaline, an alternative to explore with the Wim Hof method

Current treatments for inflammation have a number of side effects. So, if we could act on the natural adrenaline in our bodies with the Wim Hof Method, we’d have a very interesting and much healthier alternative. Natural adrenalin fights inflammation if present in sufficient quantities when the autonomic nervous system is activated.

Applying Wim Hof’s method would be effective for patients suffering from inflammatory diseases

Although some scientists remain skeptical, for many researchers, meditation, breathing exercises, and cold training offer many possibilities.

While researchers are still in the early stages of investigating the Wim Hof method, some believe it has a promising future in the treatment of inflammatory diseases.

Capel’s research

The authors report on a study carried out by biochemist Pierre Capel.

Capel’s research shows how Wim Hof’s method impacts our DNA.

The biochemist explains that many anti-inflammatory proteins are activated during cold training and physical activity,and that this process has an impact on our immune system. Similarly, by practicing his breathing exercises, Wim Hof succeeds in reducing the number of inflammatory proteins in his body, and consequently the risk of diseases that develop when inflammatory proteins are too numerous.

Meditation regulates our level of inflammatory proteins and has an influence even in our DNA

This part of the book explains that at the ends of our chromosomes, we have what are known as telomeres. Telomeres indicate the lifespan of a cell. The larger they are, the longer the cell will live. According to the authors, meditation lengthens telomeres, enabling cells to live longer.

Breathing combats chronic stress

The authors go on to point out that people trained in the “Wim Hof” method have a different reaction to stress than those who are not. Why? Because, they tell us, breathing increases PH and eliminates the sensation of pain and fear.

Chronic stress is detrimental to health, whereas acute stress is beneficial. The Wim Hof method provides acute stress without the inflammatory effects of chronic stress. This acute stress increases our performance tenfold. 

In short, the breathing and cooling effects of the Wim Hof method combine to act beneficially against stress and inflammation.

Once again, Koen De Jong points out that this is not a so-called ‘silver bullet,’ but that all these beneficial effects have been observed on our health.

7. Who Can Benefit from the Wim Hof Method?

In this second-to-last chapter, Koen De Jong describes how Wim Hof’s method helps people in good health to stay in shapeand which illnesses it helps to limit or alleviate.

7.1 – Healthy people

When we’re healthy, we don’t feel too concerned about illness, says Koen De Jong. So, taking cold showers doesn’t necessarily come to mind as a way of preserving our health.

Yet there are many benefits to trying cold showers, notes the author: they energize and vitalize the body.

7.2 – Athletes

Many athletes take an ice bath after training to recover more easily. Ice actually helps to eliminate waste from the body, making it stronger. Muscles are also less painful the day after an ice bath.

7.3 – Sick people

Here, Koen De Jong examines the links between the Wim Hof method and certain illnesses.

He points out that, while traditional medicine can never be replacedbreathing plays a very important role on the body’s cells and can assist medicine in the event of illness or to preserve people’s health.

High blood pressure

High blood pressure is rarely detected, as it has few symptoms. Yet it damages our blood vessels and important organs.

In the event of high blood pressure, it is therefore advisable to eat a healthy diet, stop using substances that are harmful to the body, take up physical activity, and learn to manage stress. If that’s not enough, there are treatments available.

But here, Koen De Jong regrets that doctors don’t recommend cold training for hypertension. Cold “trains” blood vessels by contracting them and allowing them to open on contact with cold. In the case of hypertension, the author also recommends taking cold showers. Please note, however, that there is no question of stopping any medical treatment and replacing it with the “Wim Hof” method.


The authors of The Way of the Iceman do not claim to cure cancer. However, they do note improvements in some cancer patients who have followed the “Wim Hof” method. In short, the “Wim Hof” method is by no means a miracle cure, but it can be used to help improve patients’ quality of life.


Studies have shown that Wim Hof is able to control inflammatory proteins. However, there is no evidence of the effects of his method on sick people.

Various health problems are linked to inflammation:

  • Rheumatism: according to the authors, cold training can be highly effective as a complement to rheumatism treatment. However, it is not recommended by doctors.
  • Crohn’s disease, an inflammation of the intestines: evidence now shows that Wim Hof’s method acts on this disease by reducing its symptoms.

We now know that psychiatric disorders are linked to the immune system. Wim Hof’s method has not yet been tested on patients with depressive symptoms, but in-depth research is currently being carried out by Wim Hof with psychiatrists to observe the effects of the method in combination with medication.


An asthma attack leads to inflammation of the airways. Ukrainian physician Konstantin Buteyko recommended not breathing too deeply to relieve the attack. This is in contradiction with the “Wim Hof” method, practitioners of which generally see their CO2 levels return to normal by slowing down their breathing.

Type 2 diabetes

Inflammation plays a role in the onset of diabetes. It can be stopped with medication. However, if the Wim Hof method can reduce inflammation, as is seriously believed, then it could be useful in preventing diabetes.

There is no evidence of its effectiveness at present, but research is ongoing.


Numerous studies show that obesity and inflammation are linked. Indeed, obese people have abnormal levels of inflammatory proteins in their cells. Inflammation is fueled by too much food and too little exercise. It’s a vicious circle for people suffering from obesity.

Scientists have therefore developed a solution that seems to work for obesity problems: anti-inflammatory drugs. Once inflammation is under control, everything else returns to normal.

Here again, Koen De Jong encourages scientists to pay more attention to breathing exercises and cold training, as the benefits of these techniques against inflammation are real and can therefore act on obesity.


We need energy all day long, even at rest. Our bodies produce it naturally. This energy is adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

People who suffer from “chronic fatigue” use their energy as if they were constantly engaged in intense activity. As a result, their ATP reserves don’t have enough time to replenish, so the body tires very quickly.

This is where breathing can be beneficial for people suffering from chronic fatigue because by rebalancing oxygen (O2) and carbon dioxide (CO2) in the body, it makes the body active and energetic.

7.4 – Cold hands and feet

If we have cold hands and feet, breathing can help, say the authors.

Cold showers also help because after exposure to the cold, the body will automatically generate heat.

7.5 – The secret of “The Iceman’s” longevity

Koen De Jong explains that a study carried out on ibuprofen – an anti-inflammatory pain and fever medication – highlighted its significant effect on cell aging.

In fact, the study involved administering ibuprofen to yeast and fungi: their life expectancy was extended by around 12 years. Researchers are currently continuing their investigations to better understand the link between inflammation and life expectancy. But could the Wim Hof method slow down the aging process by fighting inflammation?

7.6 – Combat stress in the “here and now”

Lastly, for the authors, exposure to cold never fails to bring us back to the “here and now.”

8. Do It Yourself in 30 Days — Getting Real and Taking Action

In the final chapter of The Way of the Iceman, the authors invite us to test the health benefits of the “Wim Hof” method by implementing a 30-day action plan.

They recommend doing the breathing exercises presented in the book every day and taking a cold shower every day. They advise us to start with hot water and then practice breathing before turning to cold water. This will help us to calm down and cope better with the cold.

Conclusion to The Way of the Iceman by Wim Hof and Koen De Jong

Discovering Wim Hof, an extraordinary man

World-famous for his record-breaking exposure to the cold and his bestseller “What Doesn’t Kill Us“, Wim Hof – a.k.a. “The Iceman” – is not your run-of-the-mill man.

Discovering the philosophy of this extraordinary man, his life story, and the photosthat illustrate it make this bookone captivating read.

Wim Hof’s story helps us understand the origins and foundations of the method he teaches today, to realize our full potential.

An original method that’s easily testable

In The Way of the IcemanWim Hof embodies and shares his surprising, riveting method of combining breathing and exposure to the cold.

Koen de Jong and Wim Hof explain how natural, everyday exercises (breathing, taking cold showers or baths) can influence our bodies right down to the very core that is our autonomic functioning.

The exercises, presented simply and sometimes very succinctly, are not difficult, yet promising. Anyone can start. So much so that when you close the book, you feel compelled to try out this method and experience its many supposed effects, whether you’re in good health or not, athletic or not: reduced stress, improved blood circulation, a stronger immune system to combat certain diseases, increased energy levels, higher metabolism, longer life expectancy, etc.

It should be stressed, however, that the exercises require a certain level of commitment.

A hybrid text: storytelling, scientific data, practical application, personal accounts, etc.

As the chapters unfold, we discover:

  • Do-it-yourself exercises to introduce us to the method, plus a 30-day challenge.
  • Physiological and biological explanations demonstrating the benefits of the Wim Hof method. These less captivating sections are nonetheless indispensable for a better understanding of the ins and outs of Wim Hof’s method.
  • Diagrams: to help you grasp the mechanisms developed and make it easier to understand the narrative sections.
  • Testimonials from people who have adopted the method and shared their results.

For all these reasons, so-called ‘cold junkies’ in search of well-being and personal development, as well as others, will not want to miss out on this highly informative read that is The Way of the Iceman.

Strong points:
  • The discovery of an original, concrete, and compelling method that makes you want to give it a try.
  • The interplay between Wim Hof’s anecdotesphotostestimonialsscientific explanations, and practical exercises.
  • The story of an extraordinary man with exceptional abilities.
Weak point:
  • The technical and scientific explanations are sometimes difficult to read.

My rating : Permanent Record by Edward Snowden Permanent Record by Edward Snowden Permanent Record by Edward SnowdenPermanent Record by Edward SnowdenPermanent Record by Edward SnowdenPermanent Record by Edward SnowdenPermanent Record by Edward SnowdenPermanent Record by Edward SnowdenPermanent Record by Edward Snowden

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The Handy Guide to The Way of the Iceman by Wim Hof and Koen De Jong

The three components of the Wim Hof method:

  • Breathing exercises.
  • Cold training.
  • Commitment.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) concerning Wim Hof and Koen De Jong’s The Way of the Iceman

1. How has the general public received the book?

The Way of the Iceman has been very well received by the public. It has also been highly recommended on Amazon.

2. What has been the book’s impact?

In this book, the authors describe how it is possible to activate the many resources of our human body using the “Wim Hof” method, based on breath control and cold training.

3. Who is the target audience of The Way of the Iceman?

This book is aimed at those who want to learn more about the method.

4. What does the Wim Hof method require to work?

The successful practice of the method involves:

  • Performing certain breathing exercises.
  • Exposure to cold.

5. What side note does the author make?

He states that he wants to tell the story of Wim Hof in order to introduce the reader to the origins of the “Wim Hof” method. He insists on one point, however: the method taught by Wim Hof does not in any way require us to confront extreme situations, as he himself has done in his life. In other words, you don’t have to dive into a frozen lake to enjoy the benefits of the method.

Health problems caused by poor breathing vs the benefits of breathing exercises

Health problems caused by poor breathingThe benefits of breathing exercises
Pain in the shoulders or neckBack and neck pain relief
AgitationBoost in energy levels
Intestinal problemsRelief from GI problems
FatigueHeadache relief
Heart palpitationsImproved athletic performance

Who are Wim Hof and Koen De Jong?

Wim Hof is a 60-year-old Dutchman also known as Iceman. He is famous for a rather extreme method that bears his name, the Wim Hof Method. According to him, meditation, special breathing exercises, and long ice baths are the ideal cocktail for reducing stress and staying healthy. A sexagenarian who spends several hours in ice-filled bathtubs and meditates in the snow wearing only shorts? One may legitimately wonder whether such practices are not dangerous to health. Are the benefits of the Wim Hof method based on scientific data?

Koen de Jong, owner of Sportrusten, author of several books on running and breathing, as well as a book co-authored with Iceman Wim Hof, is a proud partner of Icetubs. In spring 2021, Koen came to Nijkerk especially for us, where we were able to experience with the whole team what breathing combined with cold feels like. The Icetubs team got to experience what breathing combined with cold does to you. We started with intense breathing, after which we entered the ice bath. One of us wanted to do it more often and was able to do so easily.

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