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What Doesn't Kill Us: How Freezing Water, Extreme Altitude, and Environmental Conditioning Will Renew Our Lost Evolutionary Strength
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What Doesn't Kill Us: How Freezing Water, Extreme Altitude, and Environmental Conditioning Will Renew Our Lost Evolutionary Strength

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  5,258 ratings  ·  482 reviews
What Doesn't Kill Us traces our evolutionary journey back to a time when survival depended on how well we adapted to the environment around us. Our ancestors crossed the Alps in animal skins and colonized the New World in loin cloths. They evaded predators and built civilizations with just their raw brainpower and inner grit. But things have changed and now comfort is king ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published January 3rd 2017 by Rodale Books
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Scott Carney Not really. But I see how you get that idea if you only got title-deep. What I'm mostly interested in is how the body adapts to what we perceive as ex…moreNot really. But I see how you get that idea if you only got title-deep. What I'm mostly interested in is how the body adapts to what we perceive as extreme environments. By exposing yourself to those environmental stimuli in a safe way, as well as learning some very basic physical meditation techniques, you are able to exert some conscious control over your body's autonomic functions. (less)

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Start your review of What Doesn't Kill Us: How Freezing Water, Extreme Altitude, and Environmental Conditioning Will Renew Our Lost Evolutionary Strength
☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣
Some of the concepts a bit ridiculous. Still, a strong 4 stars.

I suck in a cool breath of air and focus my eyes on the blazing orange rock in front of me. I exhale a low guttural roar, like a dragon just waking from a thousand-year slumber. I feel the energy begin to build. The rhythm of the air quickens. My toes start to tingle inside my hiking boots. The world starts to brighten in my vision as if there are two dawns working at the same time—one tied to the rising of the sun, the other in th
Brendan Monroe
Going from books that do what they say on the tin to books that don't, we have "What Doesn't Kill Us: How Freezing Water, Extreme Altitude and Environmental Conditioning will Renew our Lost Evolutionary Strength". Just copy-pasting that title is exhausting.

18 is an obscene number of words to cram into a title, especially when you're leaving out three more - "makes us stronger" - in an effort to be ... succinct? Clever?

Why did I even get this book? Oh, that's right - I wanted to see how freezing
Kater Cheek
Boy do I have mixed feelings about this book. I'll start with the positives. How exciting is it to think that some athletes and fringe researchers have begun to discover one of the missing elements that's creating so many of our modern problems. Being in the cold can help you lose weight and reverse autoimmune diseases? So strange! So provoking. This is the kind of stuff I eat up. It's not just fascinating new medical science, it's stuff you can apply to your own life.

Well, sort of.

This book beg
Mario Tomic
Apr 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The book was very fun and interesting to read. The big idea is how we can use environmental factors such as cold exposure to trigger certain adaptive mechanisms that might be beneficial for our wellbeing. My favorite part of this book were the stories how hardcore obstacle course races become popular and the part talking about different types of training regimes that incorporated the Wim Hof's breathing method. Overall, fun read. Check it out! ...more
Dylan Tweney
Jan 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Provocative, mostly clear-eyed look at Wim Hof and his remarkable claims. Hof is the originator of a method of breathing, cold exposure, and meditation that supposedly has very remarkable effects on health, endurance, and even the immune system.

Carney, a journalist, tests out the method in a variety of extreme environments (including summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro shirtless) and reports on his experiences. There's also a fair amount of reporting into related fitness gurus, like surfer/Santa Monica t
Ross Blocher
Aug 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Scott Carney's What Doesn't Kill Us: How Freezing Water, Extreme Altitude, and Environmental Conditioning Will Renew Our Lost Evolutionary Strength is probably the most clear-sighted book you'll find on the subject of Wim Hof's breathing and cold resistance methods. If you haven't heard of Wim Hof (yes, that's a person's name), he is a charismatic trainer holding a bevy of world records for swimming in frozen lakes, chilling in ice for hours, running long distances while barefoot in the snow, ho ...more
Nov 22, 2017 rated it liked it
I thought the first 1/7th of the book was fantastic--based in evolutionary theory, science with a healthy dose of skepticism. I totally buy the basic idea and since reading the book, I've decided to wear only t-shirts when I run in winter and take cold showers. However, the rest of the book is just Scott Carney doing cool stuff and showing off and talking to other people who train hard. I wasn't so into that. Also, I wasn't into the whole "I got cured of parkinson's from cold ice treatment." See ...more
Jeff Hayes
May 31, 2017 rated it it was ok
While it was an interesting read, it is light on details of the Wim Hof Method. Maybe this is because Carney wants you to pay for Hof's method, which is fine, but the book ends up reading like a love letter to Hof. If you do any internet reading on Hof, you're likely to find conflicting accounts of the method and inconsistencies in Hof's statements. This book isn't really about Hof, though, who is an interesting character and by his own admission, not great at communicating a "big" message.

Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My brother in law gave this to me over a year ago and I've just sat on it till now. It's crazy cool and I'm mad at myself for not picking it up sooner.
There are 2 thing's I'd like to point out-
1- The science / philosophy of Wim Hof is fascinating. The idea that you can hack your body to adapt to extremes is very interesting. I've done the breathing exercises for a couple days and I was able to hold my breath for 2 minutes and 45 seconds today. Crazy! I haven't dared do any of the cold water cond
Dave Murray
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this book!

An extraordinary account by an investigative journalist that is as pleasurable to read as a good novel. An inspiring nudge to reconnect with the environment if you have been living an a narrow comfort zone.

I am in the process of working my way through Wim Hof's ten week course but even though I am familiar with the method this book added to my knowledge of it.

This book has reinforced my view that breathing exercise, meditation and embracing cold is possibly as close to the mythica
Jan 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
What Doesn’t Kill Us by Scott Carney takes an immersive journalism approach into the world of extreme environmental sports and training which includes a look into the emerging phenomenon of obstacle course racing. A large portion of the book centers on Wim Hof, otherwise known as the Iceman, his training and his disciples. Win is a dutch daredevil who holds world records for performing feats of endurance such as marathons under subzero temperature conditions. Without clothes. Carney employs a qu ...more
Apr 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Paradigm shift, Check! These are the type of books I truly love, teach me something new about being human. Give me a challenging perspective that is supported with evidence, well thought out and persuasively reasoned. I have found again and again that the best template for understanding humans is going back to the Stone Age, where the bulk of our evolutionary history was spent. Learning about that template will help modern humans figure out how to maximize healthy living. Though I have discovere ...more
Marcella Purnama
Feb 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Erm, mixed feelings. Will give this 2.5 stars.

I really love books that are written by journalists, especially those that rely on heaps of research in combination with human interest angle.

But this book falls short. I am really intrigued by the idea - it feels like the physical version of Moonwalking with Einstein (where a journalist taps into his mental abilities and becomes the US Memory Champion). But as I said before, this book falls short. I feel like the book lacks focus, and the stories ar
Francisco Câmara Ferreira
It is one of those books that you can credit with having changed your life! Have not stopped taking daily cold showers ever since and have also adopted the wim hof breathing methods as often as I can. The benefits (at least to me) have been more than obvious, and I try to get better daily at some of the techniques presented in the book. My mindset has definitely improved as a result of the time I put into it. Highly recommended to all the "bio-hackers" out there :) ...more
Jul 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
How interesting! The narrator's tone of voice and the general perkiness reminds me of Born to Run, but if you aren't bothered by such things I'd highly recommend this book. I, for one, enjoy being cold and very easily overheat. I'll dress more lightly come winter and for once ignore all the "oh but aren't you cold!?". The breathing techniques are another matter. I'd like another book like this one but without the emotional stories and people. ...more
Feb 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
A bit long winded in some areas but still make for an absorbing read. Investigative journalist Scott Carney, who exposed charlatans like spiritual leader Michael Roach, set out to debunk Wim Hof- the Iceman, physical endurance prophet and occasional madman - but ended up a convert after climbing the 18,000 ft Mt Kilimanjaro wearing mostly just a pair of shorts.

I practise yoga, and can see that Wim Hof's breathing method and breath holding has foundations in the hatha yoga practice of pranayama.
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: health
This book, at its core, is about the Wim Hof method. Devoloped by a Dutch man, it is a series of breathing exercises and cold exposure that supposedly bring a host of health benefits, also, possible superpowers. Because what is a health program nowadays without over inflated claims. Still, at its core the theory is that "by routinely stimulating a stress response" you gain some health benefits, and because as a society we are so comfortable, there is a lot of room for improvement in those system ...more
Malin Friess
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Carney climbed 19,000 foot tall Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in just two days wearing only shorts and hiking boots to prove two things: 1) advanced breathing techniques (essentially deliberately hyperventilating) can allow us to hack our inner-systems and allow us to over-perform (not get elevation sickness at +14,000 feet or run faster sprints) and 2) one can by concentration and cold weather training activate a vestigial organ (brown fat that we once had as infant) to superheat our body.

This is
Terry Maguire
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-nf
This book does for thinking about environmental conditioning what Chris McDougall's Born to Run did for running. I didn't know much about Wim Hof's ideas about using extreme environmental exposure to improve physiology & conditioning and was impressed by the in-depth research Scott Carney did to ascertain the scientific credibility of Hof's methods (spoiler: Carney sets out to debunk Hof, and ends up becoming an acolyte). Bottom line: too much comfort = stagnation and atrophy; challenge & exposu ...more
Brad Lockey
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I listened to this book, mainly outdoors ... and one chapter I found myself in the rain.
It started slowly, and then came down in a torrent.
The temperature was 21 C along my walk, and I immediately sought refuge under a tree so I wouldn't get "wet".
Then I recalled what I was reading/listening to .... and I changed my tune to get wet.
I remember starting the book and thinking it was BS.
Then came the data.
And the true story.
I am going to change the way I workout.
I am going to give this a shot in sma
Mateusz Woźniak
May 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Ok, first of all, I would say it is not easy to rate this book. I expect it may be 5star for some and 2 stars for others. Let me start by saying what to expect reading this book and what it isn't.

What this book isn't:
Despite what title say the book will not directly answer how to be a superhuman or how to renew your body. It will describe some of the methods that helped the author and other people overcome their shortcomings, diseases, fears - and ultimately get a better grasp of their possibili
Jan 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Scott Carney has written a book extolling the health benefits of deliberate exposure to the elements, but readers may suspect early on that Carney chiefly wants to find a justification for taking his shirt off whenever possible. Which happens a lot over the course of the book.

Not that “clothing-lite” exercise is a novelty. Carney acknowledges in the epigram that the Greeks had him beat by a few millennia; the Spartans were especially insistent on being underdressed for all occasions. Nor is it h
Aug 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Scott Harney is an investigative journalist with two other books under his belt before this one. He says that after first seeing information about a Dutch health guru who encouraged people to stand nearly naked in the snow he thought it would be worth looking into and possibly exposing. Harney was already working on his book A Death on Diamond Mountain (also known as The Enlightenment Trap) about the dehydration death of a 38 year-old follower of an Arizona enlightenment instructor. He thought t ...more
May 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
There is a lot of valuable information in here, but it is buried in a long-winded narrative.

I think folks who love this kind of non-fiction will eat this up. You’re learning valuable skills, but with that you learn about fascinating people, experiences, etc.

If you just want the skills, this book is still pretty good. It is easy enough to wade through the stories to find what you’re looking for, and I found myself getting drawn in all the time, even to parts I didn’t expect to enjoy. All in all i
Donald Ozello
Jan 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love this book. The author, Scott Carney does an outstanding job. The information is presented in a professional format. The information is described in terminology that all education levels can understand.
Personally, I am a Doctor of Chiropractic who loves fitness. I am always searching for, reading & referencing sports medicine, science, biology, health, fitness & nutrition articles, videos & books. (Any type of material I can get my hands on, especially well-researched material.) "What Do
Ron S
Dec 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Our ancestors crossed the frozen Bering Strait half naked and these days, most of us require specialized high tech clothing just to dash from one climate controlled environment to another. Wim Hof, a Dutch fitness guru, argues that we still have the ability to control our body temperature and cure ourselves of diseases including diabetes and Parkinson's. Hof teaches these techniques in weekend workshops and has been leading climbs up Mt. Kilimanjaro, wearing nothing but shorts, for years. Invest ...more
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A great book that I cannot recommend enough.

People need to know what the body (and mind) is not designed to be kept at a constant, manageable temperature.

Exposure to heat, cold and the stress of exercise can bring great physical and mental benefits. Furthermore proper breathing, meditation and attitude can compound these benefits.

After hearing Wim Hof discussed on the Tim Ferriss podcast I have been taking cold showers daily for almost 2 years and been doing the breathing exercises in average 2-
Šarūnas Kūjalis
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was my first introduction to Wim Hof and his method. After reading this you will probably want to watch all the videos available and read all the articles too. This is some really interesting stuff. After following breathing technique, in less than 20 minutes, from my 3rd trial I managed to hold my breath for 2 minutes 53 seconds, which I found insane! And it was so easy. Also this book contains quite some information about our biology, how things work in our bodies, but I'd say it was expl ...more
Dustan Woodhouse
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’ve been following Wim Hof for several years now. His methods are fascinating and probably as underrated as is the poorly named ‘placebo effect’.

Why would we call the power of the mind something as weak sounding as ‘the placebo effect’.

We should frame it as a question of what’s more powerful, this drug, or your mind’?

And trumpet ‘mind control’ wins again! Ie ‘self-control’

Wim is the master of self control, of his body at least. The author for sure paints a picture of a driven, competitive, AA
Josiah Hesse
Dec 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Such an engaging blend of narrative and reporting, this book has completely changed my attitude toward being cold (which is saying A LOT). It's also revolutionized my workouts, as I've now been doing my runs in the park in only a t-shirt and shorts (it's December at the moment).

I've seen a monumental change in my immune system, my endurance, and my energy levels.

Beyond the fascinating info, it's also a fun read with its witty one-liners and colorful characters.
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Scott Carney is an investigative journalist and anthropologist whose stories blend narrative non-fiction with ethnography. He has been a contributing editor at Wired and his work also appears in Mother Jones, Foreign Policy, Playboy, Details, Discover, Outside, and Fast Company. He regularly appears on variety of radio and television stations from NPR to National Geographic TV. In 2010 he won the ...more

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“much of the developing world—no longer suffers from diseases of deficiency. Instead we get the diseases of excess. This” 4 likes
“Have you ever seen a rabbit go to a pharmacy, a hospital, or a mental asylum?” he asks rhetorically. “They don’t look for medicine, they heal themselves or die. Humans aren’t so simple; they’ve let technology get in the way of who they really are.” It’s an idea that I’ve thought a lot about, and one that doesn’t always sit comfortably. Yes the modern world has its drawbacks, but nature can also be brutal. So I interrupt the budding diatribe. “But rabbits get eaten by wolves,” I say. Hof doesn’t skip a beat at my interjection. “Yes, they know fight and flight. The wolf chases them and they die. But everything dies one day. It is just that in our case we aren’t eaten by wolves. Instead, without predators, we’re being eaten by cancer, by diabetes, and our own immune systems. There’s no wolf to run from, so our bodies eat themselves.” 3 likes
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