Why Are Scandinavians So Strong?

Scandinavia has collectively had more than 45 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place victories in the Strong Man competition since 1977, compared to just 30 in the United States.

So what makes Scandinavians so strong?

Many Scandinavians are strong because they value exercise, like weight lifting and eating for the purposes of strength training.

Scandinavians are among the tallest people in the world, which enables their bodies to have more muscle than people of lesser size.

Furthermore, the harsh climate in Scandinavian countries and the tendency for a large percentage of the population to walk or bike everywhere adds to their heartiness.

This article will state whether Scandinavians are the strongest ethnicity and why so many Strongman medalists are from Scandinavia.

It’ll also outline some other physical traits common to those with Scandinavian heritage.

Also see Why Are Scandinavian Women So Beautiful? to learn more.

strong man
Are Scandinavians the strongest ethnicity? See below

Are Scandinavians the Strongest Ethnicity?

There’s no scientific evidence to prove that Scandinavians are the strongest ethnicity, though the incredible number of Strongman medalists would argue in favor of that assumption.

According to science, African Americans, especially those with West African genes, tend to be the strongest ethnicity.

In a recent study conducted by the World Health Organization, people from Uganda are some of the fittest people in the entire world. [1]

That could be due to their exceptional genetics. 

In 2016, UAB conducted genetic research that showed black men of West African descent had lower risks of becoming overweight or obese and developing diabetes. [2]

The research also showed that these men had a “lower waist circumference and waist-hip ratio” and the propensity to develop strong musculature.

Another study conducted by the University of North Carolina at Wilmington seemed to back up these findings. 

In this project, researchers charted the effect that over 12 years of bench pressing had on police officers of different races and genders. [3]

At nearly every benchmark, the black police officers – both male and female – had stronger bench press weights than their white counterparts. 

All of that is compelling evidence that Ugandans, primarily black Africans, likely have something in their genetic makeup that allows them to be more fit than other ethnicities.

However, the real reason Uganda is “the world’s fittest country” is more likely because of the high amount of activity Ugandans participate in each day. 

According to the study, only 5.5% of Ugandans don’t get sufficient activity each day.

Compared to 40% in the United States, 36% in the UK, and 67% in Kuwait, 5.5% almost seems unreal.

That means that in a country with over 48 million people, less than three million don’t get enough exercise each day. [4]

So do Ugandans constantly exercise all day? 

Some exercise, but mostly, they walk everywhere. They walk to work, school, the store, social events, etc. All that walking, along with occasional exercise, keeps them very fit. 

Also see Why Do Scandinavians Love Metal Music? to learn more.

weight lifting
Why are So many strongmen from Scandinavia? See below

Why Are So Many Strongmen from Scandinavia?

Just because Scandinavians aren’t scientifically proven to be the strongest ethnicity doesn’t mean there aren’t tons of strong Scandinavians.

The sheer number of Scandinavian – primarily Icelandic – men who’ve won the Strongman competition is proof of that. 

However, if they aren’t the strongest ethnicity genetically, why are there so many Strongman winners from Scandinavian countries?

Several likely factors explain why there are so many Strongman winners from Scandinavia, including: 

  • Thanks to natural selection, Scandinavians have good genes.
  • Scandinavian countries’ governments provide good support.
  • Scandinavia’s harsh climate toughens people up.
  • The Scandinavian countries enjoy a healthy diet.
  • Exercise is a key part of the Scandinavian social scene.
  • Strongman training is widespread, especially in Iceland.

The following sections will briefly examine each of these factors.

Scandinavians Have Good Genes

Most Scandinavians have Viking heritage, and the Vikings had challenging lives. Natural selection did its work on them, and only the strongest survived.

As a result, those genes passed from one generation to the next, leaving Scandinavians with good, strong genes.

They’re also more likely to be taller than many other races, and taller people can hold more muscle.

Nordic Countries’ Governments Provide Plenty of Maternal Support

The taller a person is, the more muscle they can hold on their frame. The more muscle they have, the stronger they’ll be.

Genes, however, aren’t the only reason there are two Scandinavian countries in the top ten list for tallest people by country. 

A Washington Post article raises an interesting point.

It states that people in Europe are more likely to be healthier than Americans because their governments “offer more material help to pregnant women and infants” than the United States government does. [5]

That means Scandinavian babies get more nutrients while still in the womb.

They come into the world healthy and hearty and continue to receive plenty of support and access to fresh produce, vitamins, and other healthy foods. This helps them grow more robust than children in other countries.

Also see Why Is Denmark Part of Scandinavia? to learn more.

The Harsh Climate Makes People Tough

Living and working where temperatures regularly don’t rise above 20 °F (-6.66 °C) is difficult. Those that manage it become tough and hearty.

Those individuals who participate in Strongman competitions undergo a ton of training.

However, they also get unintentional supplemental training in their everyday lives.

Scandinavians Eat a Healthy Diet

Scandinavians eat plenty of lean, healthy protein and ingest minimal carbs. They also stay away from fried, fatty foods and junk food.

They eat lots of fish and have easy access to locally grown, organic produce. They also prepare food in healthier ways than most Americans.

Exercise Is a Major Part of the Culture

For someone training to become a Strongman, there’s no doubt that exercise is a huge part of his weekly routine. However, exercise is a regular part of most Scandinavians’ weekly routines.

Most jobs offer access to health clubs and gyms, and exercising together is a social pastime for many.

Strongman Training Is Popular and Well-Utilized

Sports that test strength and endurance have always been popular in Scandinavian countries.

However, since so many Scandinavians have won Strongman competitions, the citizens of these countries are insane about it.

Scandinavians love Strongman competitions like Americans love baseball and Brazilians love soccer.

There are gyms, coaches, and personal trainers all over Scandinavia explicitly dedicated to training people to become Strongman competitors.

Additionally, the training is intense. They take it very seriously, and as evidenced by all the medal holders, many of them have become very good at it. 

Also see Why Are Scandinavia So Expensive? to learn more.

Scandinavian man
Do Scandinavians have other Unique physical traits? See below

Do Scandinavians Have Other Unique Physical Traits?

Scandinavians, like all people, are unique. There’s no single stereotype or physical trait that fits all of them.

However, there are a few things that many, though not all, Scandinavians have in common. 

Some of the common physical traits of Scandinavians include light hair, fair skin, and blue eyes.

On average, they’re also quite tall, with Denmark and Norway ranking third and fourth on the list of tallest people by country.

Straight noses, long skulls, and thin lips are also typical.

Most people describe Scandinavians as having dolichocephalic skulls and everything that comes with them, including high, prominent cheekbones and large foreheads. 


There are several reasons why Scandinavians are so strong. However, nothing in their genetic makeup makes them inherently stronger than other races.

Also see What Is the Meaning of the Valknut Symbol? to learn more.

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Christian Christensen

Christian started Scandinavia Facts to explore his family heritage, raise awareness of one of his academic interests as a professor, and civilly promote the region. Please see the About page for details.

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