10 rules of living like a Viking in the 21st Century

The Viking Age is full of stories of adventure, bravery, and conflict. Yet the ordinary nature of how the people lived day-to-day in the Viking Age surprises many. Here's an

IShimwe Emile

June 19, 2024

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The Viking Age is full of stories of adventure, bravery, and conflict. Yet the ordinary nature of how the people lived day-to-day in the Viking Age surprises many. Here's an introduction to the Viking lifestyle.
Whenever someone mentions Vikings, the general picture painted in the mind’s eye is of burly blonde dudes with horn-winged helmets hopping out of a boat, sword, and axe in hand, ready to burn, plunder, and do all sorts of nasty things to whoever crosses their path.
In fact, the word ‘Viking' was reserved for those few warriors who set sail in search of trade or new lands, rather than to describe everyone who lived in the Scandinavian lands during the time period.
The Viking Age began in the year of 793 with an attack on the Lindisfarne monastery in England, which is the first known Viking raid. The event that marks the end of their glory days is the slaying of King Harald Hardrada at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066.
Raids, looting, colonisation, and trade brought the Vikings to many destinations in the known world and beyond. In the beginning, only a few seafaring Vikings survived the rough voyages, but the fleets grew over time, and there were soon hundreds of vessels known as longships. They sailed across the Baltic Sea and down Russian rivers as far as the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea to Byzantium and the Caliphate of Baghdad. Vikings were also the first Europeans to reach Greenland and North America. In fact, the Viking explorer Leiv Eiriksson arrived on the shores of North America around the year 1000, 500 years before Christopher Columbus.
Viking colonisation
The Vikings founded many cities and colonies, including Dublin in Ireland and the region of Normandy in France. Dublin was held as a significant settlement for more than three centuries. Between the years 879 and 920, Vikings colonised Iceland, which in turn became the springboard for the colonisation of Greenland. Remains of a Viking settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland have been carbon dated to around the year 1000.
How could a small and scattered people conquer so much territory? The Norwegian Vikings are characterized by their courageous, fatalistic outlook which made them naturally born risk takers. The raiding groups seem to have had a fantastic ability to shrug off losses, whether in land battles or in dangerous sea expeditions. The number of deaths caused by war was sometimes shockingly high in relation to the total Viking population, but it did not satisfy their hunger for conquest and exploration for around 250 years.
Peaceful tradesmen and mead drinkers
The Vikings are mostly known for their relentless pillaging, and rightly so. At the same time, many of them lived peacefully as traders and farmers, and many expeditions were based on barter deals. Those who stayed home supported their families through simple farming activities. Their daily life might have been tough and demanding, but was not without joy. The most well-known Viking drink is mead (mjød in Norwegian), an alcoholic beer-like brew sweetened with honey.
The end of the Viking Age
The explorers brought their cultural identity to continental Europe, while importing foreign culture, languages and knowledge. By the 1100s, the Vikings were in decline due to a combination of domestic disputes and resistance from other European countries, which had learnt the painful lesson that they needed to defend themselves against attacks by building fortifications.
Innovative ship design
The design of the Vikings’ iconic vessels, called longships, was adopted by several other cultures and influenced shipbuilding for centuries. Briefly described, the method involves overlapping planks of oak that are nailed together and protected by layers of tarred wool and sometimes animal hair.
The secret behind the fast-moving longship is its long, narrow hull, kept stable by a keel. Light enough to be carried, it was designed for speed and easy navigation in shallow waters. The longship was double-ended, allowing it to reverse direction without the need to turn. This was a significant advantage in a sea filled with concealed icebergs and sea ice.
Longships had oars along almost the entire length of the vessel, with later versions adding sails.
Female power
What role did women play in Viking history?
Women are said to have had a stronger position in Viking society than in most other parts of Europe. They usually had the right to divorce, and if their spouse passed away, they would inherit his estate and retain ownership of his belongings. They had partial legal protection against sexual harassment. A woman was respected as the head of the farm when her husband was away, which he could be for a long time. Today’s fascination with Viking culture is not only based on their image as relentless seafaring warriors, but also a result of their way of life and role in developing a new and more modern society.
10 rules of living like a Viking in the 21st Century
Live like a modern-day Viking warrior with our 10-step guide to Viking living
The Vikings were a powerful bunch. Between the 9th and 11th centuries they travelled huge distances from Scandinavia to mainland Europe, exploring and colonising. We remember them as strong, robust warriors whose physical strength was a big part of their success.
But what made the Norse warriors as strong and successful as they were? And how can we adopt key parts of the Viking lifestyle in today’s high-tech lifestyle?

1 Nurture close friendships
The Vikings knew about strength in numbers. Their biggest successes were achieved as a group, whether it was travelling, fighting, or trading. We can learn a lot from their willingness to team up and share skills and resources.
2 Enjoy your feasts
Viking physiques weren’t built on small portions or mindless snacking. When they feasted, they went for it. Perhaps we can take a leaf out of their book by focusing on the quality of our food and the company we enjoy it with. Cut out the mindless snacks and you’ll have more calories to eat at your main meals.
3 Don’t waste your life
Vikings believed your fate was decided from birth, which resulted in a fearless ethos to battle. They wore little to no armour (why bother, when your death is pre-determined?) Modern-day Vikings shouldn’t be so reckless about risk, but it is a good reminder to live life to the full with no regrets.
4 Develop raw power 
To live like a Viking, you have to be strong. So work on your power output across various training modalities. Lift weights, but make it explosive. Do cardio but focus on power. If a Viking walked into a gym today, they would head for the functional training kit and free weights. Can you imagine a Viking warrior sat on a fixed weights machine?
5 Train speed and strength 
Vikings were big, powerful people with plenty of muscle. But they were agile as hell. To train like a Viking you need to work on moving your mass through all planes of movement with speed, power, and agility. This might take the form of functional fitness training, Strongman, CrossFit-style workouts or a combination of calisthenics with some weighted objects in the mix. Keep it real-world physical.
6 Row. A lot
If you want to train like a modern-day Viking, you should make friends with the erg. Rowing is an awesome form of cardio that torches serious calories and offers full-body resistance. Commit to a block of rowing training to build a powerful engine.
7 Lift awkward objects
Viking physicality is about much more than strength. To build true Viking fitness, you’ll need to work on stamina, endurance, power, and grip strength. It’s a great reason to introduce odd objects into your training routine. Vikings would have loved sandbags, kettlebells and steel maces!
8 Build a community
Vikings lived, worked, and fought as a group. Our modern-day “lone wolf” mantra would have sounded very strange to them. Take a leaf out of their book and embrace the benefits of finding your tribe. Whether that’s a couple of training buddies or a gym with a great environment, you can’t underestimate the power of like-minded people.
9 Eat from the land 
21st century Vikings need to fuel their training. How can we echo the best of Viking nutrition in our modern day lives? Keep it simple, clean and healthy. Eat from the land – and sea (you know those guys ate plenty of fish!)
10 Optimise your hormones
Viking warriors were the living embodiment of a healthy hormone profile – strong, powerful, full of vitality. Our modern environment isn’t so optimal, so you’ll need to make a few adjustments. Eliminate manmade, processed foods from your diet and focus on eating more lean protein, fish, seafood, red meat, and vegetables. Train hard, prioritising strength and power work with odd objects. Spend more time outside, either walking or doing physical work. And sleep like a Viking by eliminating lights, noise, and electronics from the bedroom.

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