Home News

Alexander Skarsgård’s ‘The Northman’ trainer wanted him to be a Viking/bear/wolf hybrid

How actor Alexander Skarsgård achieved his muscular transformation in 'The Northman' with the help of celebrity trainer Magnus Lygdback.

the northman
via Universal

Alexander Skarsgård’s stunning transformation to the muscular viking warrior Prince Amleth in The Northman was thanks to celebrity trainer and movement coach Magnus Lygdback. Lygdback had a distinctive vision for his human masterpiece: a combination of a viking warrior, bear, and wolf.

Lygdback told Variety:

“This character, his spiritual animals were a bear and wolf. So that is exactly what we were trying to embody in terms of Alex’s build and movements. The wolf is really agile, and then you have the size of the bear in this Viking. You can just get one look at him and get scared. That was [the elevator pitch] for what we were trying to achieve [with Alex’s transformation].”

To achieve this, Lygdback had Skarsgård following a strict diet and exercise regime. Skarsgård trained for three months, six times a week at the gym before the film was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They continued a lesser schedule during lockdown to maintain, then revved back up before filming resumed. Lygdback describes his workouts as “a hybrid between plyometrics training and old-school bodybuilding philosophy.” 

Skarsgård’s diet consisted of consuming 3,700 calories a day, eating five times a day, or every two to three hours. He followed Lygdback’s rule of mostly clean eating, which meant he ate “clean 17 out of 20 meals in a four-day cycle.” Clean means a protein, vegetable, and a slow carb or fat. Skarsgård enjoyed eating fish. The results were worth the effort, as Skarsgård’s abs themselves should have been given their own IMDb credit. Skarsgård gained a whopping 20 pounds of muscle. 

The Northman Trailer

The Northman tells the classic story of revenge. It is directed by Robert Eggers and based on the Icelandic legend of Prince Amleth. It is currently out in theaters, so make a trip to the movies to fully appreciate Skarsgård’s muscles in action.    

Shannon Cudd
About the author

Shannon Cudd

Shannon is a passionate writer and actor from sunny Southern California with a degree in Theater from Chapman University who believes in the power of storytelling to make this world a better place. Beyond being a freelance writer for WGTC her byline has appeared in the OC Register, KnockLA, LittleThings, Inside Hook, and more. Her love of all things nerdy is fueled by decaf Earl Gray Tea. Follow her on social media @MsShannonCudd or check out her website at www.ShannonCudd.com