If you frequent Armstrong Street in Middle Park between grabbing a latte at the local cafe or a pub meal while you’re laundry is drying at the laundromat next door (as I’ve heard is the standard for a few of our members) you may have seen a few half naked and freezing people roaming the laneways.
These people may or may not be part way through a Wim Hof session with the one and only Lars from Lars Ice Bath.
So, what is it all about? Well, The Wim Hof Method is based on three pillars. They are
- Cold therapy or exposure
The man behind this, Wim Hof believes that combining these three things can reduce stress, improve sleep quality, heighten your concentration and improve performance.
The theory goes that chronic stress is very bad where as acute or short bouts of stressors can be very beneficial for adaptation. Which makes sense if you think about the stimulus we apply in say the weight room. We wouldn’t apply the stress to our muscles chronically, that would just cause injury. Many of us in our professional or even personal lives place chronic stress upon our systems.
As someone who has been involved in the fitness industry for 10 years this all sounded very appealing and I was eager to put the theory to the test.
Before diving into my experience a brief introduction into who Wim Hof is. Wim, aka “The Iceman”, is known as an athlete who has set Guinness world records for swimming and sitting under ice. He also holds the record time for a barefoot marathon on ice. Not bad right! Recently he featured on Channel 7’s Sunday Night which was a great break down and snap shot of who he is so below is a link of that episode if you would like to know more about him.
My Experience with the Wim Hof method .
Exposing ones body to freezing temperatures is one of the three pillars of the Wim Hof method. This method of cold body therapy has picked up considerable ground across the globe, particularly in Australia as it has been linked with numerous health benefits.
This method involves sitting in a sealed insulated container of ice for a period of time whilst the cold water is circulated around the body. Unlike the chryo chambers which use extremely cold air and are relatively expensive. The Wim Hof method is a affordable (and some say more effective) alternative.
I decided to give this method of recovery a try. I myself had just started getting back into full training off the back of an ACL reconstruction surgery in February 2018. To really reap the benefits I ensured I had done a heavy block of training leading up to the session.
My week had been:
- 2 x heavy weight sessions
- 1 x olympic style weightlifting lifting session
- 2 x metabolic conditioning sessions
Fair to say my body was relatively fatigued!
So I gathered a small group of brave friends (RevoPT’s very own Luke and Darren) to join me in this session at middle Park Fitness where we met the man behind this method in Melbourne Lars or also known as the Ice Viking.
We arrived and entered a small confined space where the Ice bath session would taken place. After some quick introductions we were told to strip down to our shorts and lie on our backs to commence some breathing exercises.
The process followed this:
- 30-40 Power breaths – This is essentially deep breathing at a steady pace in and out through the mouth. Inhale fully but not exhaling all the way out. As we inhaled we felt out belly rise and on the exhale, we felt your belly fall. It felt a bit like we were hyperventilating, but that we were in control.
- Following step 1, we held our breath
- Breath in for 10 seconds slow and controlled
- Repeated steps 1-3 – We cycled through this process for what felt like 20 minutes almost.
- Finally we held our breath and tried to get out as many push-ups as possible
The breathing exercises were something that I had never tried before and my body responded to it almost immediately with my extremities feeling tingly. This exercise allowed me to get into a deep meditative state and for the most part felt very relaxed.
I feel this definitely helped enter a state in which I could control what was to come, and almost uncontrollable urge to jump out of a huge tub of ice!
Following on from the breathing exercises we were given a run through of the ice bath and were going to enter one at a time for a duration of 5 minutes each. We were advised to hop straight into the tub and not waste any time.
The Initial 30 seconds were the most challenging, particularly through my extremities where my blood flow felt cut off. After following Lars instructions and controlling my breaths I begin to relax and take back control of my mind. I could then take in the challenge that laid ahead of me. Five minutes felt like an eternity but I managed to see it through.
I was encouraged once hopping out to move constantly to avoid “shaking like a leaf” later according to Lars. Post Ice bath my energy levels felt good and felt very alert, rejuvenated and I definitely feel like it accelerated my recovery.
My final thoughts
I was very impressed with the recovery session and benefited a lot from the session. The breathing component was something I’ve never done before and since then I’ve tried to incorporate it into my daily routine. I feel this is a must try recovery method if you are game enough.