How Alexander Skarsgård Trained For The Northman

How Alexander Skarsgård Trained For The Northman


Shameless appreciation of naked Viking chest in 3, 2, 1….

If you’re one of the many blessed who’s had a chance to see Robert Eggers’ latest film, The Northman, then you’re probably VERY aware that Alexander Skarsgård got absolutely JACKED to play the role of vengeful Viking Prince Amleth.


Aidan Monaghan / © Focus Features / courtesy Everett Collection

In order to get into hot, revenging Viking shape, Skarsgård teamed up with personal trainer/nutritionist Magnus Lygdback. (Fun fact: they worked together on Tarzan as well!)

BuzzFeed recently got a chance to speak with Lygdback about training Alexander Skarsgård for the role of Amleth, and here’s what we learned…

“Physically, we wanted Alex to be thicker this time around, with more body fat than Tarzan, and bigger shoulders,” Lygdback explained. “Since Amleth is a wolf-bear hybrid in a Viking legend, we wanted Alexander to be able to move smoothly while fighting with swords and axes but at the same time possess an imposing size and thickness.”

To get that “imposing” look, Skarsgård trained with Lygdback for six months leading up to filming.

In fact, they were actually locked down together for COVID-related protocols. “Alex and I were isolated in our house. We had to build a gym in his garage, we couldn’t go out, in town, or even to a gym. So, we were between the house and set,” said Lygdback.

And here’s a breakdown of the “phases” Skarsgård went through to become a viking, according to Lygdback:

PHASE ONE: “Build up” or “bulk up”

“The first thing that happens when you start, is you do a physical screening. You need to have a strong foundation. So, it’s working with a lot of heavyweights and eating a calorie surplus to put on maximum amounts of muscle mass.”

“This is when you’re in a calorie deficit. You eat less energy than what you spend in a day. And you try to maintain as much muscle mass as possible while losing body fat.”

For The Northman, because they wanted a thicker “wolf meets bear” look, there was actually a little less cutting involved than there would normally be say, for like a superhero type of movie.


Aidan Monaghan / Focus Features / Courtesy of Everett Collection

PHASE THREE: “Maintenance”

“This is the maintenance phase, which happens while filming. When someone like Alex looks the part — higher muscle mass, low body fat — to keep them there while going through 12 hours of hard work in a day, that’s definitely the hardest part.”

Lygdback would actually be on set, helping out with movement coaching, pumping up in between takes, and, as the nutritionist, also tracking what Skarsgård would eat. “I’m the one who’s making sure that the right food comes out at the right time and that Alex finishes it.”

And some of the warmups they might do would include things like bear crawls, banded side-steps with toe touches, goblet squats, standing rows with a super band, lateral raises, skaters, rolling knee tucks, and rotating kick throughs.

By the way, in case you’re curious, because I know I definitely was… ABOUT THOSE MASSIVE SHOULDERS?! Turns out a lot of that was in performance, not a specific workout.


Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

“It was manipulation of the body while on set. That’s a part of what I do as well, I’m standing next to the director, looking at the close-ups, and angles, and helping out with what I can. An actor can give you 200 emotions, but if you tell them to put their body physically in a spot to give him more depth between his shoulder blades, ‘give me a wider look,’ it’s gonna be hard for them, so I can help out with that.”

“[Alex] is definitely hunched over in the movie for a specific reason. It’s more animalistic and meaner-looking,” said Lygdback.

Bottom line: Not only is Alexander an A+++ actor, but he trained like heck for The Northman and we allllll know it paid off. 👀 👀 👀

If you’re curious to learn more or want to experience The Northman workout yourself, you can actually find Alexander Skarsgård’s program on Magnus Lygdback’s app!


Courtesy of Focus Features

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Rachel Meadows

Rachel Meadows

Trending topics news writer who enjoys cooking, walking her dog and travel.

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