Alexander Skarsgård's Physical Trainer For The Northman Details 'Explosive' Exercise Programs (And I'm In Pain Just Thinking About It)

A still of Alexander Skarsgård in The Northman.
(Image credit: A24)

Alexander Skarsgård’s new film The Northman has a lot to offer, chief among them being an absolutely ripped Skarsgård. Ever since we caught a glimpse of the actor in this role, people can’t stop talking about how insane his physique is in the film. Make no mistake, to achieve such a hulking stature takes an incredible amount of work and discipline, which Skarsgård’s personal trainer, Magnus Lygdbäck, detailed to CinemaBlend in a recent interview.

In The Northman, Alexander Skarsgård plays a Viking, so his workout and diet were specific to achieving a physique one would sport while rampaging their way throughout Europe. As Lygdbäck put it, this was imagined as “strong, but not too lean.” He went on to explain what one of Skarsgård’s hardest days of training would look like:

I gotta be honest, there’s many brutal days when you wanna look like a Viking. They were all pretty tough but in a fair and balanced way. He was on a four split program, in four days he would work through the whole body. This meant he could target every muscle group much harder. On a leg day we would do over 200 reps on his legs. This is everything from Goblet squats to leg presses to explosive movements, biometrics, skaters… so a combination of heavy exercises but also explosive exercises. And those days are tough, they are.

You can immediately count me out of any workout that’s being described as “explosive.” Magnus Lygdbäck took us through a typical warmup Skarsgård would do prior to a full day of shooting, and “explosive” movements are something he emphasized a lot. The limber and exaggerated movements prepare the actor for a day of physical activity as a Viking, or as Lygdbäck put it, “a full day of axe-swinging.”

One would naturally be curious as to how Alexander Skarsgård ate while on this strict workout regime, so Lygdbäck clued us in on that as well:

Protein in chicken, beef, fish, eggs. Rice, pasta as a carb source, and then a bunch of good fats like avocado, fish oil, and vegetables. A ton of vegetables.

Well, that sounds pretty standard! As mentioned, Magnus Lygdbäck didn’t want Alexander Skarsgård to get too lean, but his diet was very closely monitored. Though any implication that you can look like Skarsgård while regularly eating pasta is pretty exciting.

The Northman sees a young man named Amleth witness the murder of his father, and once he grows up, he emerges as a ripped Alexander Skarsgård, ready to take vengeance on the man who tore his family apart. To be sure, there’s much more to the performance than the way the actor looks, and Skarsgård triumphs in the role beyond being someone who takes their shirt off.

The Northman comes from the mind of visionary writer/director Robert Eggers of The Lighthouse and The Witch. Check out our interview with him on the ReelBlend podcast. The film is receiving rave reviews from both critics and fans alike. As for everything else coming our way this year, check out our 2022 release schedule. Catch The Northman in theaters for yourself on April 22!

Jeff McCobb
Senior Video Producer

Jeff is a film buff who is ridden with gratitude that he gets to spout opinions about them for a living. He currently resides in Los Angeles, where he spends his time complaining about Los Angeles.