Alexander Skarsgard’s ‘Northman’ Training Diet Plan Explained

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Of all the images from Robert Eggers’ Viking epic ‘The Northman’, there is no sight more breathtaking than that of Alexander Skarsgård’s domed traps. The actor’s shoulders look like two protruding volcanoes ready to erupt. Skarsgård’s muscles are a testament to his work with Magnus Lygdback, the famed trainer who helped the actor bulk up 20 pounds of muscle and transform into the hulking Viking warrior prince Amleth.

Lygdback, who first worked with Skarsgård on the 2016 adventure film ‘The Legend of Tarzan’, is both an exercise trainer and a movement coach. Movie buffs may know Lygdback’s work best from M. Night Shyamalan’s “Glass,” starring James McAvoy as a man with 24 different personalities. McAvoy’s disturbing body contortions were the result of his work with Lygdback, which also helped Skarsgård learn how to shape his body so that his trapezius muscles were bulging and defined. Lygdback calls this “postural manipulation”.

“This character, his spirit animals were a bear and a wolf. So that’s exactly what we were trying to embody in terms of Alex’s build and movements,” Lygdback said in an interview with Variety. “The wolf is really nimble, and then you’re bear-sized in this Viking. You can just look at him and be scared. It was [the elevator pitch] for what we were trying to achieve [with Alex’s transformation].”

Alexander Skarsgård in training on the set of ‘The Northman’
Aidan Monaghan

Lygdback and Skarsgård’s workout schedule included six gym sessions per week (one per day) for the three months leading up to the original production start date of “The Northman” in March 2020. COVID postponed the start date of the film to September, so the duo’s six-day-a-week schedule resumed for another three months in June. Skarsgård spent the intervening months in confinement in Stockholm, where he reduced his weekly training sessions to three or four a week. Anyone watching “The Northman” would be forgiven for assuming that Skarsgård spent several hours at the gym each day. In reality, Lygdback workouts only lasted an hour.

“You see it all the time in interviews where an actor says, ‘I practiced several hours a day. That’s not necessarily true,” Lygdback said. “They were moving maybe four hours a day, say, but the actual gym session? I never train my clients for more than an hour because what doesn’t happen the first hour won’t happen the second hour at the gym. All you do after the first hour is just start breaking down your body. So one hour a day, six days a week. During filming, five days a week.

Lygdback described Skarsgård’s “Northman” exercise routine as “a hybrid between plyometric training and old-school bodybuilding philosophy”. The trainer used free weights and resistance bands, with the latter used during the first 10 minutes of each workout to activate Skarsgård’s shoulders and glutes. Lygdback initiated bear crawling drills to help prepare Skarsgård for climbing stunts, and also incorporated throwing drills since “The Northman” includes spear and ax scenes.

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Alexander Skarsgård in training on the set of ‘The Northman’
Aidan Monaghan

“We knew Alex was going to move a lot, from running to axes, so we paid a lot of attention to the shoulders and hips,” Lygdback said when asked about the focus areas of Alex’s body. Skarsgard. “I did a lot of warm ups with bands for his shoulders and hips and then that was followed by some pretty intense strength training. It was a four-day split, which means you work different muscles each day and then cover the whole body in four days. Then you start over.

Lygdback also organized Skarsgård’s diet, which included consuming around 3,700 calories a day. Every day, the actor ate more calories than he burned in order to build maximum body mass. Skarsgård ate five times a day every 2-3 hours (“It will keep your energy and metabolism burning,” Lygdback said). The trainer’s rule of thumb for his clients is to “eat 17 out of 20 healthy meals in a four-day cycle.” Three meals are “gourmet meals” where you can eat whatever you want. A clean meal consists of a protein (chicken/fish/beef), a vegetable (spinach/asparagus/broccoli) and a slow carbohydrate or fat (quinoa/barley/rice or avocado/oil). ‘olive). Skarsgård followed this regimen during his three-month prep periods, as well as the six-month “Northman” filming schedule.

Skarsgård often chose fish as his favorite protein. The actor’s first meal of the day often consisted of four eggs for breakfast followed by a protein snack, which Lygdback says “could be anything from smoked fish salad to chicken or beef skewers”. Lunch would be one of the clean meals listed above (Skarsgård enjoyed salmon with asparagus), followed by another snack, then a similar clean dinner. Skarsgård sprinkled here and there with a protein shake, although a shake is not necessarily part of Lygdback’s training regimen.

Movie buffs interested in Skarsgård’s “The Northman” workout routine and diet can find Lygdback’s comprehensive nutrition guide, along with meal plans and a grocery list, at his app. Lygdback also has a Youtube channel, where he breaks down some of his celebrity workouts. The coach then turns his attention to Skarsgård’s “The Northman” co-star (and McAvoy’s “Glass” co-star) Anya Taylor-Joy, who is working with Lygdback on the preparation for “Furiosa.”

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Magnus Lygdback and actor Alexander Skarsgård on the set of Robert Eggers’ Viking epic ‘The Northman’
Aidan Monaghan

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Alexander Skarsgård with cast and crew on the set of ‘The Northman’
Aidan Monaghan


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