Book Review: What Doesn’t Kill Us by Scott Carney

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Wim Hof might be a familiar name to some. He is a Dutch fitness expert, also referred to as The Ice Man, who specialises in pushing his body to the limit in extreme cold temperatures. What Doesn’t Kill Us is a look at Wim Hof’s practices, and Scott Carneys investigation of his claims and the evolutionary benefits of these ancient practices.

Our ancestors relied on the ability to adapt to extreme climates. They crossed deserts and oceans without a single piece of modern day technology. These feats of endurance now seem impossible in an age where we take comfort for granted. Carney looks at whether we can regain those lost evolutionary strengths by simulating the extreme environmental conditions of our forefathers.

Wim Hofs ability to control his body temperature in extreme cold has led to a deluge of scientific exploration. Hof and his disciples claim they have been cured of chronic autoimmune diseases such as diabetes. So Carney throws himself into this investigation of proof, by learning and doing the practices himself, within the Wim Hof HQ in The Netherlands.

The breathing techniques alone are of great interest. And when I practiced them whilst on the chapters relevant in this book, I did feel a mild sense of euphoria, although I did not practice the strength gains for push-ups which are referred to in chapter 8. This is on my to-do list, and something I will experiment with more at some point in the future. Once complete, I will come back and update this review.

 

Conclusion

The book starts promising. It pulled me in with the scientific data, and the application by Scott Carney of the Wim Hof methods. I’ve always been fascinated by The Ice Man from the moment I heard of him, so to learn details about his extreme techniques was indeed fascinating and hugely rewarding. However, towards the last quarter of the book I felt it leant too much towards Scott Carney’s achievements, which although they were very impressive, somehow left me bereft of inspiration.

If you want to learn more about Wim Hofs techniques, this is an excellent book to begin with. Just be prepared for it to peter out more towards a self indulgent look at Scott Carneys achievements in the last quarter of the book.

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