Wim Hof

Wim Hof (born 20 April 1959), also known as The Iceman, is a Dutch extreme athlete noted for his ability to withstand freezing temperatures.[1] He has set Guinness World Records for swimming under ice and prolonged full-body contact with ice, and previously held the record for a barefoot half marathon on ice and snow. He attributes these feats to his Wim Hof Method (WHM), a combination of frequent cold exposure, breathing techniques and meditation. Hof has been the subject of several medical assessments and a book by investigative journalist Scott Carney.[2]

Wim Hof
Wim Hof.jpg
Hof immersed in an ice bath, 2007
Born (1959-04-20) 20 April 1959 (age 61)
Sittard, Limburg, Netherlands
OccupationExtreme athlete
Websitehttps://www.wimhofmethod.com/ Edit this on Wikidata

Early lifeEdit

Hof was born in Sittard, Limburg, Netherlands, as one of nine children, in order of birth: Rob (1954), John (1955), Marianne (1957), Wim and Andre (1959-identical twins), Ruud (1961), Ed (1962), Marcel (1964) and Jacqueline (1967).[3][4] Hof has six children, four of them with his first wife Marivelle-Maria (also called "Olaya"), who died by suicide in 1995,[5] a son, born in 2003 to his girlfriend, and a son born in 2017 to his last girlfriend.[6] When he was 17 he felt a sudden urge to jump into the freezing cold water of the Beatrixpark canal.[7][5][6] Hof has said that his sadness over the loss of his first wife was formative in leading him to develop techniques to face low temperature environments.[6][8]


Hof at, a 2015 event, at TheaterAmsterdam

On 16 March 2000, Hof set the Guinness World Record for farthest swim under ice, with a distance of 57.5 metres (188.6 ft).[9][10] The swim at a lake near Pello, Finland was filmed for a Dutch television program, and a test run the previous day almost ended in disaster when his corneas started to freeze and he was swimming blind. A diver rescued him as he was starting to lose consciousness.[3] A new record of 76.2 metres (250 ft) was set by Stig Severinsen in 2013.[11]

On 26 January 2007, Hof set a world record for fastest half marathon barefoot on ice and snow, with a time of 2 hours, 16 minutes, and 34 seconds.[12] This record was surpassed on 17 January 2021, by Czech Josef Šálek, who finished a half-marathon in Pelhřimov with a time of 1:36:21.[13]

Hof has set the world record for longest time in direct, full-body contact with ice a total of 16 times,[14] including 1 hour, 42 minutes and 22 seconds on 23 January 2009;[15] 1 hour, 44 minutes in January 2010;[16] and 1 hour 53 minutes and 2 seconds in 2013.[14] This was surpassed in 2014 by Songhao Jin of China, with a time of 1 hour, 53 minutes and 10 seconds;[17] and surpassed in 2019 by Josef Köberl of Austria, with a time of 2 hours, 8 minutes and 47 seconds.[18]

In 2007, Hof climbed to an altitude of 7,200 metres (23,600 ft) on Mount Everest wearing nothing but shorts and shoes, but aborted the attempt due to a recurring foot injury.[19][20] In February 2009, Hof reached the top of Mount Kilimanjaro within two days wearing only shorts and shoes.[21] In 2016 he reached Gilmans point on Kilimanjaro with journalist Scott Carney in 28 hours, an event later documented in the book What Doesn't Kill Us.[22][23] In September, he ran a full marathon in the Namib Desert without water, under the supervision of Dr. Thijs Eijsvogels.[24]

Wim Hof markets a regimen, the Wim Hof Method (WHM), created alongside his son Enahm Hof. The method involves three "pillars": cold therapy, breathing, and meditation.[25] It has similarities to Tibetan Tummo meditation and pranayama, both of which employ breathing techniques.[26]

Scientific investigationsEdit

A wide range of claims are made for the beneficial effects of the Method, but they are not backed by scientific evidence.[27]


People have died while attempting the Wim Hof Method.[28][29] Four practitioners of the WHM drowned in 2015 and 2016, and relatives suspected the breathing exercises were to blame.[28][29]

Critics of Hof say he overstates the benefits of his method, giving false hope to people suffering from serious diseases, and some of his claims have been uncritically reported by the media.[30] On his website he says that it has reduced symptoms of several diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson's disease;[26] He has also said it might cure some forms of cancer.[30] Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt, one of the scientists who studied Hof, stated that "[Hof's] scientific vocabulary is galimatias. With conviction, he mixes in a non-sensical way scientific terms as irrefutable evidence."[31] However, Van Marken Lichtenbelt goes on to say: "When practicing the Wim Hof Method with a good dose of common sense (for instance, not hyperventilating before submerging in water) and without excessive expectations: it doesn't hurt to try."[31]

Media appearancesEdit

Cover of Becoming the Iceman

Hof appears in the music video for "My Last Breath" by James Newman, the United Kingdom entry for the Eurovision Song Contest 2020.[32][33]

Hof appears in season one of the Netflix series Goop Lab.[34]

Hof has also been interviewed on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast.

Hof features prominently in Scott Carney's investigative book What Doesn't Kill Us.

Hof has a chapter giving advice in Tim Ferriss' book Tools of Titans.


  • Hof, Wim (1998). Klimmen in stilte [Climbing in silence] (in Dutch). Altamira. ISBN 9789069634395.
  • Hof, Wim (2000). De top bereiken is je angst overwinnen [Reaching the top is overcoming your fear] (in Dutch). Andromeda. ISBN 9789055991136.
  • Hof, Wim; Rosales, Justin (2012). Becoming the Iceman : pushing past perceived limits. Mill City Press. ISBN 9781937600464.
  • Hof, Wim; Jong, Koen A.M. de (2015). Koud kunstje : wat kun je leren van de iceman?. Uitgeverij Water. ISBN 9789491729256.
  • Hof, Wim (2020). De Wim Hof methode. Kosmos Uitgevers. ISBN 9789021578415.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Shea, Daisy-May Hudson and Matt (16 July 2015). "ICEMAN". Vice. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  2. ^ Carney, Scott (2017). What doesn't kill us : how freezing water, extreme altitude, and environmental conditioning will renew our lost evolutionary strength. Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale. ISBN 9781623366919.
  3. ^ a b Carney, Scott (2011). "The Iceman Cometh". Scott Carney. Archived from the original on 27 June 2018. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  4. ^ Hof & Rosales 2012, p. 10.
  5. ^ a b Joe Rogan (interviewer) and Wim Hof (21 October 2015). Wim Hof (podcast). Joe Rogan Experience. 712. Joe Rogan. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  6. ^ a b c Innerfire. "Innerfire - Wim Hof, The Iceman - Innerfire". Retrieved 18 July 2015.
  7. ^ Hedegaard, Erik (3 November 2017). "Wim Hof Says He Holds the Key to a Healthy Life – But Will Anyone Listen?". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  8. ^ Tang, Vivienne. "Wim Hof: The Iceman on Breathwork, Ice Baths, and How to Reset and Control Your Immune System". Destination Deluxe. Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  9. ^ Farthest swim under ice - Guinness World Records. Guinnes World Records. 20 August 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  10. ^ Science Explains How the Iceman Resists Extreme Cold. Smithsonian Mag. January 2020. Retrieved 10 February 2020.
  11. ^ "Longest swim under ice - breath held (no fins, no diving suit)". Guinness World Records. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  12. ^ "Fastest half marathon barefoot on ice/snow". Guinness World Records. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ a b Glenday, Craig (2015). Guinness world records 2015. Bantam Trade. p. 246. ISBN 9781101883808.
  15. ^ "Full body ice contact endurance". Guinness World Records. 8 May 2011. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  16. ^ Sunday, Alex (29 December 2010). "Dutchman Aims to Take Longest Ice Bath". CBS News. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  17. ^ "Longest duration full body contact with ice". Guinness World Records. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  18. ^ "Longest duration full body contact with ice". World Open Water Swimming Association. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  19. ^ "Dutch Iceman to climb Everest in shorts: It's all about the inner fire". ExplorersWeb. 1 March 2007. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  20. ^ Kathmandu (29 May 2007). "Everest climber falls short". The Age. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  21. ^ Iceman Wim Hof on Kilimanjaro Summit. YouTube. 14 February 2009. Retrieved 18 July 2015.[better source needed]
  22. ^ Kilimanjaro Expedition 2016 With Iceman Wim Hof, retrieved 13 May 2020
  23. ^ "What Doesn't Kill Us by Scott Carney: 9781635652413 | PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books". PenguinRandomhouse.com. Retrieved 13 May 2020.
  24. ^ Innerfire. "Wim Hof Blog". Retrieved 18 July 2015.
  25. ^ Hof, Wim. "Wim Hof Method". wimhofmethod.com. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  26. ^ a b Hof, Wim. "Wim Hof Method Breathing". Wim Hof Method. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  27. ^ Hall H (12 January 2021). "Wim Hof, the Iceman". Science-Based Medicine.
  28. ^ a b Tijmstra, Fannie; Bomers, Loes (10 June 2016). "'Iceman' onder vuur" ['Iceman' under fire] (in Dutch). EenVandaag. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  29. ^ a b Duin, Roelf Jan (2 July 2016). "'Iceman'-oefening eist opnieuw leven" ['Iceman' exercise claims a new life]. Het Parool (in Dutch). Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  30. ^ a b van Erp, Pepijn (1 January 2016). "Wim Hof's Cold Trickery". Pepijn van Erp. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  31. ^ a b van Marken Lichtenbelt, Wouter (11 July 2017). "Who is the Iceman?". Temperature. 4 (3): 202–205. doi:10.1080/23328940.2017.1329001. PMC 5605164. PMID 28944263.
  32. ^ James Newman - My Last Breath - United Kingdom 🇬🇧 - Eurovision 2020 on YouTube
  33. ^ Reilly, Nick (27 February 2020). "James Newman to represent the UK at Eurovision 2020". Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  34. ^ "The Goop Lab Netflix On The Wim Hof Method & Cold Therapy". Goop. Retrieved 13 May 2020.

External linksEdit