Cold exposure is the name of the game, and I’m about to tell you why you’ll never be the same.
You guys are probably wondering where I’ve been, and what I’ve been up to…Well I guess you could say I’ve been chilling. 😉
Let’s dive in,
I’ve been consuming every resource I can find on Wim Hof and his secrets of cold exposure. In fact, I have had success with his practice in just a month’s time.
I have heard of Wim Hof before, but learning how to embrace the cold never appealed to me until now.
First, a quick introduction to Wim Hof.
On the Wikipedia entry you can see that Wim has many feats related to cold exposure – the most notable includes staying fully immersed in ice for 1 hour and 52 minutes!
He said it was a brrrrreeze.
Without a shadow of a doubt, it’s clear that Wim is onto something with his breathing method and cold exposure.
I decided to try it myself…
Let me start off by saying that I HATE the cold.
I dread that time of year when summer ends and the land transforms into a dark, cold tundra. Where every morning demands a sweater, and your breath freezes the moment it leaves your mouth. You have to wake up early to get a head start on defrosting your damn car.
Yep, I don’t like that at all.
I’d rather be baking under the sun glistening with sweat, than under the sheets of my bed shivering. Dreading the very moment that I have to leave its warm embrace to face the cold enemy that is the winter.
But not anymore!
You see, life has a crazy way of presenting you with information you need, just when you need it. All you have to do is pay attention, and then apply. So that’s what I’m doing.
Let me explain.
I was browsing the internet and ran across a podcast with Wim Hof. I remembered that he was the “Ice Man” and because all of my friends and family have been talking about how cold this winter was going to be, I decided to take heed and investigate what Wim had to offer.
So I went in deep. I listened to every interview with Wim I could find, I watched the Vice Documentary, I downloaded Wim’s Inner Fire app, and most importantly – I did the breathing practice EVERYDAY. I exposed myself to cold EVERYDAY.
This winter, I am not letting the cold conquer me – I will conquer the cold!
When I started this routine, it was transitioning from warm to cold weather. I bought a cheap thermometer, and my plan was to sit in my pool everyday and acclimate with the weather as the temperature dropped.
Note – I now have this Infrared Thermometer to give me faster, more accurate reads!
Mother nature is my trainer, and she keeps me strong with progressive cold exposure.
The starting temperature was 66 °F and man did that feel cold. Now, 3 weeks later, I am entering 42 °F water and it feels the same to my body as the 66 °F water once had.
No kidding. Due to the breathing method, I don’t even shiver.
I am in control.
I get goosebumps, and it definitely feels cold, but I don’t shiver and I have a controlled, rhythmic breathing pattern.
By gradually increasing my cold exposure, I set a new personal record of entering 36 °F water, and I am just getting started…
By the way, my wife now likes to tell me that I look like Johnny Bravo. In her words “yeah, you have small legs, a big upper body, and funny-looking hair!” Thanks Foxy Mama, I’ll take that as a compliment – Hoohah!
Let’s talk about this breathing method and what happens when you begin using cold exposure.
1st – Breathing Method
Just by using Wim Hof’s specific breathing method you are able to:
- Boost Epinephrine (Adrenaline)
- Increase levels of Anti-inflammatory Cytokines (IL-10)
- Lower levels of Pro-inflammatory Cytokines (TNF-α)
- Alkalize the blood’s PH – Also, as I mentioned HERE, chronic alkalosis can increase PGC-1α which leads to more mitochondria.
- Lower carbon dioxide levels in the blood
- Flood the body with oxygen!(S)
“A quick search on YouTube“yields tons of instructional videos if you want to see it in action.
2nd – Cold Exposure
As I mentioned in “Mitochondrial Biogenesis : Fix your ATP, Fix your Life,” cold increases PGC-1α.
If you haven’t read that article I suggest you do, as well as my introduction article to mitochondria.
Basically, cold exposure can increase PGC-1α, which creates MORE mitochondria, which means more ENERGY.
I don’t have anything new to add about the benefits of cold exposure, so I highly encourage you guys to read this free-report that the amazing Dr. Rhonda Patrick is sharing. You can download her free PDF by clicking this link HERE.
These are the benefits you can expect to read about in her report:
- Increased Norepinephrine – Boosts focus and attention, used to treat ADHD.
- More Dopamine – Neurotransmitter associated with drive and motivation.
- Increased Cold Shock Protein (CSP) RNA Binding Motif 3 (RBM3) – This protein is associated with muscle sparing, and longevity.
- Better Immune Function
- Increased Brown Fat/Brown Adipose Tissue (metabolically active fat)
- Raised anti-oxidant activities of the cells
- Enhanced cardiovascular function – The growth of new blood vessels through induction of vascular endothelial growth factor (Vegf). This means better oxygen delivery and heat exchange(S).
Again, you really should take a minute to head on over and read Dr. Rhonda Patrick’s report. It’s worth the read. The link is HERE. She also has studies supporting all of these claims!
Wim states that this combination raises serotonin levels. This could be true if your serotonin production is being hindered by inflammation.
The breathing primes the body for the stressor, while the cold provides the perfect stressor.
Wim says that the cold is the test to see how well you are performing your breathing.
I have found that both the breathing method and cold exposure produce profound results.
The breathing makes you feel energetic, clear-headed, and peaceful.
The cold exposure makes you feel focused, strong, and determined.
This type of practice trains your will-power and allows you to crush through obstacles without opposition.
The more voluntary suffering you build into your life, the less involuntary suffering will affect your life.
— Tim Ferriss (@tferriss) January 15, 2017
I’ve read testimonies claiming that the Wim Hof method cured their depression. I can’t help but wonder if it was because of the physiological benefits of the two methods, or was it that they introduced voluntary suffering, which made all of their other problems seem insignificant.
In the end it doesn’t matter, results matter.
You will reap the benefits of committing to the breathing method and progressive cold exposure, just as I and countless others have.
All of our modern day commodities have made us sick, weak, and frail.
It’s time to make yourself uncomfortable, and thrive because of it!
Cold Exposure Fast Lane
Lucky for you, I have some tips on how to increase your comfort with the cold.
My approach to rapidly increasing your cold exposure tolerance is going to be through our good friend “brown fat.”
Man… sometimes I feel like all I talk about anymore is brown fat. So let’s get to the meat of it.
Ways to increase brown fat acquisition:
- Cold Exposure – You should have seen this one coming(S)!
- Fish Oil – Fish oil lowers levels of White Fat and aids in the heat-producing brown fat by inducing UCP1 expression. UCP1 is how the mitochondria in brown fat are able to produce non-shivering thermogenesis(S). This means you stay warm without shivering to create the internal warmth. Wild Fish Oil is a good place to start. That or sardines. Choose your weapon.
- Curcumin – Good ol’ curcumin, our bright orange friend. Curcumin has two functions in fat cells: first, it destroys White Adipose Tissue by initiating apoptosis. Second, it increases the expression of Brown Adipose Tissue(S)! NOW CurcuBrain is a top-notch curcumin product.
- PGC-1α Activation – Just read “Mitochondrial Biogenesis – Fix Your ATP, Fix Your Life“
- Epinephrine – Beta-adrenergic agonists (like epinephrine) are shown to increase brown fat(S). This means that the breathing method is even more important than you might have thought. Plus breathing is free, so as Wim would say “BREATH MOTHAFUCKA!“
- Orexin/Hypocretin – Orexin is known as the wakefulness neuropeptide and is capable of increasing brown fat. It directly increases brown fat precursor differentiation(S,S). You can raise orexin activity through lactate(think fermented foods and intense exercise)(S,S), caffeine(S), and intranasal orexin (S).
- Exercise Training – Irisin is a hormone that increases in circulation after exercise(S). Irisin is responsible for creating new brown fat cells and also converting white fat cells into the favorable brown type(S). This should be even more motivation to exercise! Get movin’ people!
How to increase cold resistance:
- Phenylpiracetam – Phenylpiracetam is a russian nootropic (aka smart-drug) that is reported to increase physical performance and increase cold resistance(S,S). It is for these reasons that it is banned by the world anti-doping agency (WADA). So it must be good, right? Personally, it never did much for me. I’m just listing it for informational purposes.
- Niacin – I wasn’t able to find any studies suggesting that niacin increases brown fat, but I do know that when you take enough niacin to get the “niacin flush” you feel like your body is on fire. Part of my cold exposure routine involved a) 500 mg niacin, b) hitting the sauna and doing the breathing exercise, and c) cold exposure -which in my case was the pool outside.
Going from extreme warm to extreme cold is not recommended for those with heart or cardiovascular conditions.
Also, don’t do cold exposure after a weight training workout.
The anti-inflammatory effects of the cold will negate the benefits of the positive inflammation that you create when exercising. The stress from exercise is what signals for your body to adapt and grow stronger. Cold exposure too soon after exercise will blunt this response and reduce your gains.
Utilize these and you’ll find that cold exposure isn’t so bad after all. In fact, you might start to like it.
Remember to start slow, much like you would in weight training. Except in this case, the weights are in Fahrenheit instead of pounds.
Please don’t harm yourself by jumping into 30 degree water immediately after reading this.
Be smart, listen to your body, and progressively decrease the temperature. A thermometer is priceless. 60 °F is a good place to start.
Again, PROGRESSIVE cold exposure is key.
Even though it really seems like I’m trying to sell you on Wim Hof, I am not an affiliate – nor do I think they even offer that.
I am talking about him so much because he is THE ICEMAN. He is the authority on cold, and has successfully trained countless individuals to withstand the cold. On top of that, he is an entertaining and good-spirited guy. I’d love to train with him in person one day. *Cough* Wim, let’s chill.
PS – I began writing this article in December 2016, but didn’t finish it until now. I don’t get much cold exposure these days because it is so dang hot. I do, however, still perform the breathing routine daily.
Until next time, keep your cool.
PPS – Stay tuned for an exciting article on the life-changing “bone broth,” coming soon!