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What Doesn't Kill Us: How Freezing Water, Extreme Altitude, and Environmental Conditioning Will Renew Our Lost Evolutionary Strength Paperback – December 11, 2018
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“Engaging . . . This is part guide and part popular science book; readers will learn about how Neanderthals used the body’s 'brown fat' to keep warm and how exposure nearly reverses the symptoms of diabetes. The accomplishments Carney documents are unbelievable and fascinating; this isn’t a how-to for those looking to perform extraordinary feats, but it is an entertaining account that will appeal to the adventurous.”—Publishers Weekly
“Scott Carney is so curious about getting to the truth of things that he is willing to endure great pain and suffering to get there. While investigating the controversial methods of Wim Hof and others operating on the scientific fringe, Carney entered a skeptic yet emerged a true believer. In What Doesn't Kill Us, readers get to follow him along on his transformational journey, and the insights are truly fascinating. Informative, fun, and with a healthy degree of danger, this is a book for the adventurer in all of us.”—Gabrielle Reece, co-founder, XPT (Extreme Performance Training)
“The further we get from the harsh environmental conditions that once threatened our existence, the more we need them. I see this every weekend at a Spartan Race somewhere in the world. Millions of otherwise sane people line up to suffer and push themselves to their physical limits, and it feels good. What Doesn't Kill Us is a fascinating investigation into the innate urge that drives people like these, and reveals how some have managed to use environmental conditioning to accomplish truly extraordinary things." —Joe DeSena, founder, Spartan Race
“As a Navy SEAL, you live by the mantra, ‘what doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger.’ We would hear this phrase and repeat it, but we never had any proof that it was factual. Yet through comprehensive study, Scott Carney has brilliantly documented how engaging in environmental conditioning, breathing, meditation, and other techniques can actually make us physically and mentally stronger. What Doesn’t Kill Us is a fascinating book that will captivate all who read it and that will be of immense value to those in the military, those who are active in sports, and those who seek an alternate means of developing greater mental and physical strength.”—Don D. Mann, New York Times bestselling author, Inside SEAL Team SIX
“Damn fun and extremely well-researched, What Doesn’t Kill Us is a great addition to the canon of high performance literature!”— Steven Kotler, New York Times bestselling author of Abundance and The Rise of Superman
“When it's cold outside, do you turn the heating up? Do you always put a coat on before going out? Do you think your comfortable life is good for you? If so, you have to read Scott Carney's What Doesn't Kill Us. Through some great stories — which often involve Carney trudging through snow without much on — and some serious research, he shows us how to escape the bland, shuffling gait of our centrally-heated, fleece-jacketed, molly-coddled lives by diving head-first into the ice-cold, axe-sharp, scary experiences that made our ancestors’ hearts beat faster every day. If we do that, we can awaken from the dull slumber of modern life and open our eyes to a better, healthier dawn of crisp air, better circulation, and the ability to truly mean it when we say: I'm alive. Buy this book, and you'll emerge a stronger, healthier, more human human.”— James Wallman, author of Stuffocation
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I think the biggest take away was that they climbed the mountain at a faster pace and didn't acclimate to it by using the breathing techniques. I think there's something substantial there. But the climb is a bit hyped up.
If you read this expect to read a lot more about Scott entering tough mudders and similar obstacle courses and finishing in the middle of the pack than WM or his methods. Nothing wrong with entering and finishing 53rd. But nobody really wants to read about the guy who did and how he did it. WM is a champion, I want to read about that guy. How does he do it, not how strange he is.
If you're looking to learn more about the WHM and techniques to implement just go to youtube. There's nothing new or deeper here. Only one breathing method in the book and it's the same as the one on youtube. Probably about 2 pages of technique in here. The rest is him talking to people and his conversation with Wim Hoff about how he want's to go to Kilmanjaro with him and what a quirky guy Wim is and oh we missed our turn in our blue 2004 chevy van with a rusty bumper and we'll have to turn around probably cost us about 5 maybe 6 minutes to make up for... Seriously about 75% of this book could just be cut out. It's mostly fill and the book knows it. It starts out talking about the end and climbing Kilimanjaro but stops for 15 chapters of fill (maybe 2-3 good ones in there) and holds the rest of the story over your head to keep you reading.
Also I got frostbite following the instruction in this book. After reading his story about their first day in camp going out in the cold for 5 minutes in their underwear and rolling in the snow and returning to a sauna. I followed the guidelines in the book and tried it for myself. Basically the story told about how painful it was to stand in the cold for the first time. It's part of the process, how you have to earn your immunity to the cold. Then they came in to the warmth and it was even more painful than the cold. All part of the process. Just have to get through it. There was a chart (page 61) that had on one axis the temperature and the other the wind speed. By connecting the 2 points the chart would tell you how long you can be outside and exposed before getting frostbite. So I rounded down the temperature and rounded up the wind speed to give me a windchill of -17. According to the chart it should take 30 minutes of exposure before frostbite sets in. Although one degree less and it would be in the 10 minute range. A big drop off. But it was day one so I was only doing 5 minutes so I'd be more then fine. Right? So I went out bare foot wearing only some gym shorts and ran around in the snow for 5 minutes. Overall I was just fine but my feet were killing me. But I just reminded myself, it's all part of the process. It's supposed to hurt. And I have a pretty good pain tolerance so I rolled with it. I came inside and as they warmed the pain was almost unbearable. It's all part of the process. I held my feet up to the fire like the guy in the book and took the pain. Well for a short period of time, then it was too much I had to stop that to lay on the floor in agony. I kept waiting and it kept hurting. The next day my feet were still killing me and walking was difficult. I looked up the symptoms of frostbite and it turns out that they are identical to all the symptoms of it's all part of the process. I was peeling dead skin off my feet and toes for a few months. Luckily no permanent damage. I didn't think about it at the time but we had just come out of an extremely cold stretch here in WI where the temp (not windchill) was about -20 to -30 at night. So even though it was 7 out when I did it the ground was still probably -20. So you might want to factor that in prior to trying for yourself. In fact I would have stayed for much longer if it wasn't for my feet hurting so bad as the rest of my body wasn't even cold. Maybe wear some sandals or water shoes or something so you still have the exposure to the air but not the direct contact with the ground. I don't hold this against the book. I was aware of the risk. Although, I think readers should be aware that what he describes as how to know it's working is the exact same as the symptoms of frostbite and it's not working. It's just a question of degree to how much it hurts. Which he describes as a lot, so it's hard to tell. And air temp is not ground temp. But I went back for more with shoes on until my feet healed.
So overall the vibe I get from Scott is that he's probably not a bad guy. Seems rather likable. And the book has some tidbits, but it needs some major editing of the delete button kind. I'd much rather read a highly informative pamphlet than a long drawn out book with the same amount of info.
Before I even got this book I started doing cold showers and saw results within just around 3 days or so. Before, I would take really hot showers and as soon as I got out, the evaporation made me shiver uncontrollably. After doing cold showers (man, did they sting at first!), I'm able to go outside in the snow with no shirt on and it feels more comfortable than what hot showers used to feel like. No shivering, I'm just chill (haha).
I also bought Wim Hof's 10 week course for about $190 and can already hold my breath for around 3 minutes without really trying, and I've only been doing these breath exercises for like 3 days. I can do 40 pushups without breathing! I don't need coats and jackets when it's cold outside and my family is complaining and shivering and I'm fine. Just be aware that people can be really resistant to this sort of knowledge because it runs so counter-intuitive to the drug-addicted culture we live in. Prescribed pill popping won't get you healthy, it merely manages different conditions and gives you more side effects than positive results in many cases.
Cold tolerance exercises your cardio-vascular system and your immune system and makes it so that your heart has to work less hard to keep you warm and moving. It's also very beneficial for stretching parts of your body that are sore. Just go to Wim Hof's youtube channel and look at all the testimonials of people who have diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Multiple Sclerosis, even deep skin burns. This stuff really works.
So yeah, buy this book and then do it! You can too can become... THE ICEMAN!
This book has the best description and comprehensive look at the Wim Hof method. I've heard Wim speak on several podcasts, but his limited English and raw emotion gets in the way of understanding it fully. Scott Carney does a great job immersing himself in the subject for you.
I use this technique to oxygenate for training intervals. It has exponentially helped my cycling performance. Racing especially.
Read this book. Do the method.
Or don't. Especially don't read this book if you race MTB or cyclocross in the upper midwest.
Top international reviews
Im a WHM instructor and the information in this book is the best I have seen.
As well as the author's experiences, it also provides quite a lot of background on how WH developed his method, interviews with medical specialists, interviews with people who have benefited from the method, and experiences with other trainers using this and/or similar methods.
Scott Carney is not the world's greatest writer, but overall the book is interesting, informative and reasonably rigorous. It just won't teach you how to do it. I don't think there are any books that do that.
It’s a fantastic piece of storytelling with a great balance of fact, inspiration and authenticity. I am really looking forward to my own experiments that are fuelled by the great stories that fill this book.