Ever wonder what it takes for actors to get into shape for a physically demanding film? Now you can experience similar training yourself with a new six-week workout challenge inspired by the training Alexander Skarsgård did for his new film, “The Northman.”
The action-packed movie, exclusively in theaters April 22, follows a young viking prince who embarks on a journey to avenge his murdered father. As the film’s star, Skarsgård was required to be in the best shape of his life — for grueling stunts and to look the part of a viking. Magnus Lygdbäck, a renowned Swedish trainer known for helping actors and actresses get film-ready, trained Skarsgård for the role.
We sat down with Lygdbäck to talk about what it takes to train a celebrity for the big screen.
“I knew that I was going to get results with him because of his work ethic, and [that] we would have a great time,” Lygdbäck says of his client and long-time friend.
When creating a character’s physique for a movie, Lygdbäck considers all of the details that will be shown on screen, and his understanding of building the perfect exercise plan helped bring the viking prince to life.
“It is extremely important to know what you want your character to look like and how you want that character to move,” Lygdbäck says. “[We did] mobility work for the shoulders because he is a viking, swinging an ax and fighting a lot, so we knew his shoulders would have to hold up [in the film]. We also wanted to achieve a thick, muscular, and intimidating look, so that was one of the goals.”
After the hard work he and Skarsgård put in, Lygdbäck wanted to create a program inspired by the viking training on his fitness app so his fans can get the ultimate strength training regimen. The challenge, “The Northman”, launched on Lygdbäck’s app on April 13.
“[It was] a no-brainer for me to share the programming for how to build a viking and how to put on muscle mass and get shredded,” Lygdbäck says. “So if people want to look like [Skarsgård] and look like a viking, I’ve got the program for it.”
“The Northman” challenge is a strength-focused training program that uses a mix of heavy and light weights to gain muscle without adding fat. In addition to workouts, Lygdbäck included a nutrition guide to help users get the most out of this challenge.
“People will realize that there are different levels to training,” Lygdbäck says. “They have the ability to put on muscle mass even if they thought they couldn’t, and they can expect to see results after these six weeks.”
While you may not be training to do Hollywood stunts like Skarsgård, following Lygdbäck’s challenge will guarantee an improvement in your strength and physical abilities. He says you just have to be willing to get into the gym for about an hour four or five days a week.
Lygdbäck also believes that rest and recovery are critical throughout training, which is why “The Northman” challenge is set up as a five-day split with two rest days to allow proper time to recover.
“My philosophy is that if you train more than twice a week, you should split the training up into different body parts and target each muscle harder, so you can stress that muscle much harder and then allow it to recover a couple of days before revisiting it,” Lygdbäck says.
To promote the new challenge, Lygdbäck hosted an event with Playbook at the 1 Hotel West Hollywood last week to walk attendees through the workout and nutrition plan he used with Skarsgård on set.
At the end of the six-week challenge, Lygdbäck is offering fantastic prizes to three winners — he’ll select participants who are the most active and engaged throughout the challenge — including:
A one-on-one video call with Lygdbäck
A $500 Visa gift card
An annual subscription to his fitness app
A case of un’sweet, the zero sugar wine
“I’m excited for people to participate in this challenge, I think it will be the best [challenge] by far, and I think this could be the best program I have ever created,” Lygdbäck says.
“The Northman” challenge sign-ups close on April 20. To participate in the challenge, sign up for Lygdbäck’s Magnus Method app, where you can also access his other celebrity training programs, including Alexander Skarsgård’s Tarzan, Gal Gadot’s WW2, and Ben Affleck’s Batman.
About the author
Jessica is a recent graduate from the Ohio State University, now based in New York. Jessica loves to read, is passionate about fitness and nutrition, and is always looking for new restaurants with the best pasta dishes. On the weekends, you can find her playing with her dog Wilson, at the beach with a good book, or doing pilates.
Fitness, Playbook Exclusives