Vegan athlete: Hulda Benediktsdóttir Waage

If strength is the king of fitness then our next guest is Queen. Even among the insanely strong Icelandic Dottirs she stands out and keeps crushing her own national powerlifting records.

Welcome Hulda Benediktsdóttir Waage! Recently voted Great Vegan Athlete of the Year 2017 she's making big waves in the vegan strength and fitness community.

Luckily she took some time off to share her story with Athlegan.

Hulda with medals and trophies

So, are all Icelandic women "Dottirs"? Or is that reserved for the seriously strong gals?

Haha! Well, most Icelandic women are Dóttir. So my name is Hulda Björk Benediktsdóttir Waage because my fathers first name is Benedikt.

The tradition is that you are named with you fathers first name added with Dóttir for girls and Son if you're a boy. It can vary though. Some are named after their mothers first name or both parents first names or have a family name like me. I'm both a Dóttir and have a family name. I'm proud of being my fathers daughter.

How long have you been vegan (or plant based)?

I consider myself a vegan. I'm not at all perfect in any way but I do my best. Some might ask oneself what that means in terms of being a vegan. It means I don't participate in animal cruelty of any kind. But it also means that I did once.

I actually started exploring veganism when I was a teenager. But I made a grown up and a real dedication to veganism when I watched earthlings nearly 4 years ago.

How did you get into powerlifting?

My background in sports are dancing, ballet and modern. I am scared of balls and jumping. I don't like loud noises or a lot of action. So I just stuck to dancing.

I tried soccer, haha, but as I said I'm scared of balls. Powerlifting was a huge coincidence but I think it suits me so well because of my preference for calm environment.

It started with me wanting to lose weight and get skinny so I could looke nice in a dress. So I hired a personal trainer, who happened to be a former strongman and powerlifter, who pushed me into competing. There was no returning after that first meet.

I quickly changed into wanting to be fit and strong.

Hulda Waage victory pose at powerlifting event

What's your training like?

I train every day. Twice a day on weekdays and once a day on weekends.

It's lot of squatting, benching and deadlifting with added all kind of work. I go swimming twice a week, I have GPP couple of times a week with added mobility and every other week I do LISS (Low Intensity Steady State cardio).

  • Monday morning: squats and bench. Afternoon: squats and bench.
  • Tuesday morning: GPP and swimming. Afternoon: GPP and mobility.
  • Wednesday morning: deadlift and bench. Afternoon: deadlift and bench.
  • Thursday morning: swimming. Afternoon: GPP or liss and mobility.
  • Friday morning: squats and bench. Afternoon: squats and bench.
  • Saturday: deadlift or GPP or both.
  • Sunday: heavy training and often equipped all three lifts or one and a lot of other work.

I think it's something like this if it's simplified. I have a coach who programs for and is with me for some of my training. He is also my husband and the head of my club.

Hulda Waage sumo deadlifting

What are your favorite foods?

Food is my favorite, haha! I enjoy oatmeal the most and would have it for Christmas if it wasn't weird.

I love making all kinds of food.

As for a favorite cuisine, I like different kind of things. I'm all for the falafel, hummus and kebab kind of things. Icelandic traditional foods are not good at all but with time we have learned a lot from other cultures and mixed things up. That is something that I enjoy and love to experiment with.

Like making a Indian pizza with mango chutney.

What advice would you give someone new to veganism and/or strength and fitness?

I don't really think going vegan is hard. It's hard to get a uncurable disease or loose a limb. But I find it sad that people I'm surrounded with haven't opened their eyes to the cruelty yet.

As for motivation, I think both Cowspiracy and What The Health are great documentaries. What The Health is in no way perfect but it is a good movie.

Just do you it your way, be patient, take advices but don't let others control you.

If you enjoy the treadmill then do that, maybe mix it up with walking or jogging outside. If you only are doing it to loose weight and don't enjoy it it's not worth it.

Find something you enjoy and stop focusing on loosing weight or looking a certain way. Focus on what makes you happy and feel good. Life is too short. I found my happiness in lifting weights.

Hulda Waage at the 2017 Icelandic Cup

You can find Hulda on Instagram and Facebook for more vegan lifting awesomeness!

2 comments

#1 Cris GVA on 15 January 2018

I love how many Icelandic records she's smashed!

#2 Tobias on 16 January 2018

She's a beast! 💪 There has to be something in the water on that island – aside from Hulda, just look at the CrossFit Games and the unbelievable Icelandic representation there.