Wim Hof Breathing Method (3 Simple Steps)

The Wim Hof Breathing Method is a process developed by an extreme Dutch athlete who has more than 20 Guinness World Records. The beauty of it lies in the simplicity of its application. Wim Hof already hiked with several students to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro… ALL of them wearing ONLY SHORTS. And he trained those students for 2 freaking days only!

The Wim Hof Breathing Method is a combination of Hyperventilation and Hypoventilation. It is a simplified application of the Tibetan Buddhist Tummo. You train your respiratory system to consciously change the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in your blood. Practicing it regularly will give you power to influence your hormone balance, resist temperature changes and improve your immune system.

Rad Rookies | Rock Climbing | Wim Hof Breathing Method

Wim Hof the Ice Man
Wim Hof aka Ice Man. Able to resist extreme cold temperature using breathing techniques.

While the Wim Hof Breathing Method is effective, I would highly suggest that you do basic deep breathing first. As with any higher skill (may it be Rock Climbing, Kung Fu, etc), it is important that you have good fundamentals first.

Alright, from this point onwards I will assume that you already practiced deep breathing a couple of times.

(Warning! Never do the Wim Hof breathing method when you are in a pool or driving. Altering your oxygen and carbon dioxide levels is very real and can cause light headedness. Some people may even faint because of it.)


#1. Hyper Oxygenate your blood

The main objective of the first stage is to hyper oxygenate your blood. This means that you want to dramatically increase your oxygen and decrease your carbon dioxide. Doing this will immediately make your blood’s PH level to a more alkaline state.

So how do we do that? We will practice hyperventilation combined with deep breathing. We will breathe-in deep and fast!

“Increasing your oxygen level will make your body more alkaline”

Are you ready? Just follow the steps below. 🙂

Inhale deeply. Inhale a huge volume of air either through your nose or mouth. At this stage, it is more important that you learn to inhale with higher volume. Once you learn to inhale with higher volume, learn to do it with just your nose.

Shallow Exhales. Exhale just by simply relaxing your diaphragm. Just let the air out naturally.

Breathe Fast! Hyperventilate or increase your breathing rate. It kinda looks like you are having an asthma attack except that your air intake is so much higher. Inhale as much air as you can for 2 seconds and exhale for 1 second.

Breathe Fast Until You Feel Light Headed A significant increase in blood oxygen will make you feel light headed. This feeling is similar to when you are traveling to a high altitude location. The number of repetitions may vary per person depending on air volume inhalation. Breathing cycles can be between 30 to 60 before you feel light headed.

Rad Rookies | Rock Climbing | Wim Hof Breathing Method

Learn to do deep breaths
If this happens to you, then you probably have to go back to simple deep breathing first

#2. Breath Retention

At this stage, you have dramatically increased the oxygen level of your blood. Your main objective here is to train your body to be efficient in storing and using oxygen.

Rad Rookies | Rock Climbing | Wim Hof Breathing Method

Badjao tribesman have incredible lungs
This Badjao tribesman can easily stay underwater for more than 10 minutes

There was a study of the Badjao tribe in the Philippines. They’ve been featured in National Geographic for being incredible divers! They can dive and spearfish for more than 10 minutes underwater. Later on, scientists found out that their spleen size is so much larger than the average human.

When you do breath retentions, you are training your lungs, spleen and possibly other internal organs. This is something that “going to the gym” doesn’t address.

“You are training your body to be efficient in storing and using oxygen”

Ready to do breath retention? Let’s go!

Exhale Fully. On your last breathing cycle, exhale until there is no air in your lungs. Yes, it is NOT a typo error. Exhale ALL AIR from your lungs.

Hold Your Breath. Ready your timer. Once you empty your lungs, start your timer. Hold your breath for as long as you can. Some people can only hold for 30 seconds and healthier individuals can do it for 3 minutes or so. You are basically training your circulatory system. Your body will adapt to being more efficient with absorbing the remaining oxygen in your body.

Breathe Deeply and Hold it Again. Breathe in as deep as you can once you feel the urge for it. Fill your lungs with air and maximize its capacity. And then, hold your breath for 10 seconds.

Exhale Fully. Do a full exhale. Congratulations, you’ve done one round of the breath retention exercise!


#3. Do 3 Rounds

It is recommended that you do 3 rounds of the Wim Hof Breathing Method every time you practice it. You’ll notice that your breath retention will increase every time.

My first time doing this, I was able to retain my breath for only 1 minute and 30 seconds. I continued doing it for 4 more days and I was able to achieve 3 minutes and 30 seconds. I was surprised that my lung capacity radically increased in just a week!

Breathing exercises are really different from your regular cardio workout. This was an interesting experience and something that I’d like to explore more.


Final Thoughts on Wim Hof Breathing Method

After I’ve reached the 3 min breath retention mark, I decided to try Qigong once more. And this time around, it felt very different. I felt the energy flow in the form of heat and tingling sensation. What changed within me? I’m guessing that the increase in my blood oxygen level improved my touch sensitivity.

The human body is still shrouded in mystery. Any person (yes, even if you are a western doctor) who claims to know everything about it is either needs a dose of humility or delusional.

Life is fun! There are a lot of mysteries waiting for us to be discovered. 🙂

As of now, I train to coordinate deep breathing techniques with rock climbing. And I was surprised with the added explosiveness to my moves from just a few sessions of advanced breathing exercises. The rich oxygen supply from deep breathing greatly helps in the production of energy. 😉

source 1, source 2, source 3

19 thoughts on “Wim Hof Breathing Method (3 Simple Steps)”

  1. Pingback: Hung Fut Philippines: Authentic Kung Fu Quest - Rad Rookies

    1. I haven’t tried freediving myself but tell us your progress after doing the Wim Hof Breathing Method regularly. 🙂

  2. Blairvillanueva

    The Badjao people are very admirable for their skills in diving. I can’t do that type of breathing technique.

  3. Cool! I think the technique is somewhat the same with what I do when I hiccup. I also hold my breath for 10 seconds when I am hicupping as it is also helpful to remove the hiccups faster than drinking water.

    1. You do breath retention when you are trying to remove your hiccup? That’s interesting, I might try the Wim Hof Breathing Method next time I get a hiccup, haha

  4. Thank you, this is wonderful read. I am a believer in proper breathing to achieve optimal health and energy. Oxygen in blood ensures that you are energized and wouldn’t feel lethargic throughout the day.

  5. My mom is laughing at me right now. I literally tried the breathing methods while reading the article. Thanks for sharing the techniques!

    1. Hi Christian, I’m glad you found my article informative! Yes, doing the Wim Hof Breathing Method will increase your lung capacity and improve your athletic performance. 🙂

  6. Jean Ricamata

    Wow, I didn’t know about this until now. Maybe because I don’t swim a lot. But these are great tips. And I will try my best to do it

    1. You can try this breathing technique just for your general health. No need to limit yourself on just swimming. 🙂

  7. Pingback: 6 Ways Your Breathing is Wrong! (Breathe Deeper)

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