How To Supercharge Your Cardio Without Doing Cardio

Cardio. A word some fitness folks love and a word others flat out dread.

Cardio means different things to different people. Here’s what four different people told me it means to them…

  1. Running on a Treadmill
  1. Cardio, you mean, exercises that get the heart pumping, right?
  2. I think cardio would be something like taking a spin (cycling) or aerobics class
  3. For me, I like to do cardio by breaking a sweat in Zumba® or dancing

Cardio can be all those things and more.  Yet, there’s something missing. Something few people think about.

There’s something different we can also do for cardio without really “doing cardio”. A method taught by Wim Hof.


Welcome Wim Hof!

Wim Hof (born in 1959) is a native from the Netherlands. Nicknamed the Iceman, Wim holds 20 world records, many of them for his ability to withstand the cold. Wim developed a proven step by step method for supercharging the cardiovascular system without doing cardio like we typically think.

Here’s some insight from Wim.

From: Becoming the Iceman – Pushing Past Perceived Limits

The cardiovascular system is made up of muscles that we can train. By exposing them to natural stimuli, such as the cold, we can make the muscles stronger. With cold exposure, the muscles in the arteries are trained. The opening and closing of the muscular walls are like lifting weights at the gym. With training, it builds up strength.  This is backed up by several cold physiological experiments at Radboud University Hospital (Netherlands).

In other words, in addition to doing cardio like we typically think, we can also improve our cardiovascular system (veins, arteries, heart, etc.) with Wim’s method.  The stronger our veins and arteries become, the less the heart has to do to circulate blood, nutrients, and oxygen. In turn, circulation becomes more efficient and the body becomes more fit!

More insight from Wim…

From: Becoming the Iceman – Pushing Past Perceived Limits

One of the amazing things about cold training is that in that moment when you are exposed, you are forced to only think about the present. All of your worrying, all of your stress, all of your problems disappear. 

(For more about how thinking about the present is a thing happy people do, click here.)

Makes sense. It’s physiology 101. Also, begs some questions.

What is Wim’s method? How can we do it?

Well, when you understand the breakthrough method (Wim’s) that researchers have recently discovered about your cardio potential, your life may never be the same…

Trust me. I tested it and it worked in ways I never imagined.

The method was first discovered many years ago, but the evidence to show its beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system only began to mount in the past decade. The research shows that human beings are capable of breaking through new levels of health for their immune, nervous and cardiovascular systems. And they can do it without taking supplements, drugs, lifting weights, running on a treadmill, or following a low carb diet.

(For more on how to lose weight safely and effectively with a low-carb approach, click here.)

Perhaps the most remarkable thing that the breakthrough research has revealed is that YOU can accelerate your development for greater cardio and immune health. You can supercharge your cardio without doing cardio.

More from Wim…

From: Becoming the Iceman – Pushing Past Perceived Limits

If I can influence the immune system (as the research shows), everybody can; that is my goal. It could change how things work in terms of health care for people all around the world.

Wim also says..

From: Becoming the Iceman – Pushing Past Perceived Limits

If you want conviction, dig within yourself. If you want clarity, strive for understanding. If you want understanding, get wisdom and gain experience by just doing it!

So I did. As last winter approached, I wanted something to help me get through it. Prior to learning Wim’s method, I never liked the winter, hated the cold.

Fortunately I connected with Craig Kelly, a long time trusted friend and colleague in late fall. I jokingly dared Craig to go into our pond when it was about forty something degrees Fahrenheit.

Pictured above is our pond on a beautiful fall day.

Craig smiled and said confidently, “Give me two more weeks and I’ll be able to do it for a few minutes.”

I reacted with total surprise. “C’mon Craig, seriously? You’re kidding right?”

“No.” said Craig. “I should be able to do it. I’ve been learning something.”

I believed him. Craig is as honest of a friend I’ve ever had. And we have always enjoyed studying human body sciences.  That’s when Craig told me about Wim’s method.

Seeking to Learn Wim’s Method

Out of trust and curiosity, I began researching and experimenting with the method for just 30 seconds a day during the first week.

30 seconds a day is not much time. I didn’t have to change my life to do it, but it began to change my life and perspective of cardio in the process.

In just one week, I began to see my body adapt. I felt invigorated and more mentally acute in the morning. With gradual progress, my motivation to learn more went up.

So, I continued to experiment with Wim’s method by following his step by step guide.

And I kept in mind what Wim said…

From: Becoming the Iceman – Pushing Past Perceived Limits

Once you realize that there are no limits in your mind, you can change. Once you realize there are no boundaries to what is possible, you can change.

Wim was right!

Behold! Positive Health Benefits

6 months later, I discovered that my blood pressure dropped from 118/74 to 103/60. That’s quite a change. And during that time, I did not alter any of my normal habits. No changes to my personal or work life, diet, sleep, meditation or exercise. I did not take any medications and continued taking the same two supplements I’ve taken for years.

(For more on how to find safe and effective supplements, click here.)

The only change I made to supercharge my cardio without doing cardio was following methods taught in a book by the two courageous pioneers, Wim Hof and Justin Rosales who spearheaded a project called Becoming the Iceman. Their goal is to show the world that anyone can adopt the ability to control the body’s temperature and help fight disease.

Here’s Wim about his mission.

From: Becoming the Iceman – Pushing Past Perceived Limits

Many diseases are caused by bad blood circulation, which can be extremely uncomfortable. [By practicing my method], results showed I had suppressed the inflammatory marked bodies in the nervus vagus. This meant I had consciously influenced my immune system by will, it could potentially have an enormous impact on humanity for the fight against disease.

From that point on, my new mission in life was to help people fight disease!

And co-author Justin went all in to support Wim’s mission. Here’s some of the thoughts he had after training under Wim’s guidance in Poland…

From: Becoming the Iceman – Pushing Past Perceived Limits

I’m eternally grateful for the opportunity he has given me.  I will not squander my potential. I owe it to Wim to do everything I can to help him makes his dreams come true. I want to be like him – someone who is willing to sacrifice everything to improve the quality of life for other people in the world.

Even though his message may appear insane, he will no longer stand-alone. I will help him spread his message that the cold is not our enemy, but a key to understanding our body’s full potential. 

Justin and Wim’s message is one that I wanted to spread as it may have value in your life too. I’ve talked with many of my clients about Wim’s method and realize it is not for everybody. But, I have a tremendous amount of respect and gratitude for Justin and Wim’s contribution to human health sciences. From them, I learned how to supercharge my cardio without doing cardio. And it began with a simple step that took 30 seconds.

A simple step suggested by Wim.

How to Get Started – Just 30 seconds a day

To get started, Wim suggests a 30 second daily exercise.

From: Becoming the Iceman – Pushing Past Perceived Limits

The first thing you should try doing is taking a cold shower after a hot one. Try to control your breaths as you face the impact of the cold on your lungs. Try to consciously control the lungs to not gasp and breathe at ease.  When you are able to do this, you have taken a gigantic step in being able to consciously control the vascular system around your vital organs.

But it’s cold! Isn’t that bad?

And Wim’s response…

From: Becoming the Iceman – Pushing Past Perceived Limits

If you want to understand the cold, you must learn to enjoy it. Learn to like the cold. We have taught our bodies to avoid the cold and to put on a jacket when we feel uncomfortable. We are taught that the cold can get us sick, so we try to evade it at all costs. It’s important to do away with this habitual aversion and learn to enjoy it. With this state of mind, you can begin to benefit from the cold and enjoy adapting to it…

Your body and mind will learn how to overcome it. Your determination and conviction should be positive and strong. Never force your body past its pain threshold. Listen to what your body is telling you; it is your teacher and guide.  

How long does it take to adapt to the cold?

Wim says…

From: Becoming the Iceman – Pushing Past Perceived Limits

The onset of natural adaptation happens rather quickly. Once the muscles in the arteries are strong enough, you will be ready to go on to the next phase.

And how many phases or stages are there?

From: Becoming the Iceman – Pushing Past Perceived Limits

Exercise 1 is breathing, exercise 2 is meditation, exercise 3 has multiple levels of cold exercises (beginning with the cold shower) for physiological adaptation, which is supported with psychological adjustments fostered through visualization exercises.

Justin followed Wim closely and took a scientific approach to his learning. To supplement Wim’s teachings, Justin shared his discovery of the Four Stages of the Cold.

From: Becoming the Iceman – Pushing Past Perceived Limits

The “Four Stages of the Cold” is a safety system I have developed from my experiences with the cold.

For each exercise, Justin provides a quick background, how to perform the exercise, and helpful comments.

Is it worth it? I think so.


Because in order to grow, I believe at times we must be willing to challenge ourselves. And in so doing, we can experience what we never knew was possible.

Wim’s method worked for me and Justin’s comments in the book helped a lot too. Not only did my blood pressure drop significantly and my cardiovascular system get stronger, but my immune system got stronger, my attitude towards winter improved and I feel inspired when I get out of the shower every morning! Plus, I can enjoy our pond in April and..

Enjoying the pond in Tolland, CT at about 48 degrees in April 12, 2015. 

…with an open mind and a willingness to grow, it’s possible to supercharge your cardio without doing cardio while catching some Vitamin D on a sunny day in February; not to mention doing Snowga! (I realize the image below may appear strange and even comical, but it is used to demonstrate how our cardiovascular systems can improve with Wim’s method.)

Supercharging my cardio without doing cardio AND getting Vitamin D in February 2015!

Closing Comments from Wim

From: Becoming the Iceman – Pushing Past Perceived Limits

“We can do more than we think”. It’s a belief system that I have adopted and it has become my motto.

There is more than meets the eye. My message to the world is this, “We have the power to prevent disease. Use that ability.”

In my search to learn how to teach, I have found two words that truly envelop all of what I believe; trust and conviction. If you don’t trust yourself or your body, it’s hard to move forward to take risks. If you aren’t willing to commit and stick with it, even if you don’t encounter failure, your chances are slim if you want to reach your goals.

Therefore, do everything with conviction. Believe and trust in yourself. But most of all…

Be happy. 

Wrap Up

  1. Anyone with the willingness to commit to Wim Hof’s method can supercharge their cardio without doing cardio. Wim’s step by step guide supports a natural adaptation process for health improvement.
  2. Research shows Wim’s method can improve the nervous system, immune system, and cardiovascular system.
  3. To begin supercharging your cardio without doing cardio, Wim recommends a 30 second cold shower after a hot shower every day for one week. As your body adapts, your cardiovascular system gets stronger and Wim offers more guidance to advance your progress in the book.

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  1. Becoming the Iceman – Pushing Past Perceived Limits

Related Videos with Wim Hof

  1. In this video aired on the Discovery channel, Wim prepares to run and completes a half marathon (21 km) above the polar circle in Finland wearing only a pair of shorts and no shoes with a ground temperature of 35 degrees below O.
  1. In this video, Wim discusses his world record achievement of staying immersed in an ice bath for one hour and 12 minutes.

About Dave Barnas, M.S., CES, NASM-CPT

Dave is the true health guy. He is the founder and owner of True Health Unlimited, LLC, a personal health and fitness company in Tolland, CT & Wellness Writers, a subscription wellness newsletter service that incorporates live & virtual wellness workshops for companies across New England. Dave earned both a Bachelor's (1998) and Master's Degree (2000) in Nutritional Science from the University of Connecticut, and also holds certifications as a National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Personal Trainer, National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist, Aerobics and Fitness Association of America Group Instructor, and Nutrition Specialist. He's also the lead author for four published works. Dave has over 20 years of combined experience in nutrition counseling, dietary supplement advising, personal training, corrective exercise training, health coaching and public speaking. In addition, he's spent over 25 years studying spirituality, meditation, and personal growth strategies. Dave's clients are all ages: youth, college championship level athletes, folks in their retired years, and everywhere in between. He's worked with three of the nation's leading physicians as a dietary supplement advisor and been a guest lecturer at Harvard University, Yale University, UConn, St. Joseph College and various church groups, health clubs, and high schools. In 2013, he was invited to Whole Foods Market to share his Real Food Therapy Guide. And in 2015, Dave's funny "Snowga" (yoga in the snow) video caught the attention of The National Weather Channel, who aired it to shake off cabin fever and bring laughter. In 2016, Dave & Hollie (his wife) founded Wellness Writers and deliver evidence-based Wellness E-newsletters to spread a message of health and happiness to various businesses throughout the US. Dave currently serves as a personal trainer in Tolland as well as a wellness coach and writer for several businesses, gyms and wellness facilities throughout the US.

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