The Northman - Alexander Skarsgård & Magnus Lygdbäck - Playbook
Alexander Skarsgård is no stranger to transforming himself mentally and physically for a role. Most notably, he underwent a grueling conditioning and nutrition plan to play the King of the Jungle himself in the 2016 film, The Legend of Tarzan. The personal trainer behind this and many of Hollywood’s most iconic transformations is the one and only Magnus Lygdbäck, a world-renowned Swedish health and wellness expert, entrepreneur, and life coach with over 20 years of experience. It came as no surprise that for Alex’s new film, The Northman, he once again teamed up with Lygdbäck to get himself in shape to play an authentic Viking. The film, directed and co-written by the visionary director Robert Eggers, is an action-filled epic, set at the turn of the 10th century in Iceland, that follows a young Viking prince on his quest to avenge his father’s murder. The film also stars Nicole Kidman, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ethan Hawke, Björk and Willem Dafoe in an immersive and breathtakingly authentic theatrical experience. Eggers wanted to ensure that his protagonist not only conceptually manifested the Viking spirit of his character, Amleth, in his quest and duty for vengeance, but that he was physically capable of leading the audience on this journey for revenge.
Although Magnus had trained Alex for Tarzan, he knew The Northman would require notable differences in the way they prepared. Luckily, due to Covid-19 related delays, they were able to train for a longer period of time than expected. Magnus wanted to ensure that Alex not only looked the part, but was able to perform without risking injury. This meant putting the actor on a four-day split program, with days for legs, chest, back & outside shoulders, arms, and cardio throughout. In order to authentically portray an ax-swinging Viking, Magnus incorporated more shoulder prep and mobility than previous training sessions. Alongside Alex’s rigorous training, Magnus had him eating five to six meals a day, aiming for a similar nutrition plan as the one used to prepare him for Tarzan. Less bulking in the beginning of training and less dieting at the end enabled Alex to achieve the thicker look audiences will see onscreen. Despite delays and an initial inability to get to a gym threatening to derail the progress they had made, ultimately the results came together in the end. Though Magnus touts working with a good friend like Alex in some of the most beautiful locations in the world as one of the best parts of the project, one moment he will undoubtedly never forget was jumping in front of the camera to play one of the Vikings in the film for a day shooting one of the film’s raid scenes.
Magnus is famous for his work with some of the world’s most recognizable actors, musicians, athletes, artists, and high-performance business entrepreneurs. His partnerships in the past have included working with Gal Gadot for the 2020 film Wonder Woman 1984, Alicia Vikander for the 2018 film Tomb Raider, Ben Affleck for the 2017 film Justice League, Mackenze Davis for the 2019 film Terminator: Dark Fate as well as musicians Katy Perry and Dua Lipa to name a few. His professional roster speaks for itself, and each successful transformation has allowed for new learnings in his own program approach. As a celebrity trainer, he understands how to work alongside a demanding travel schedule and to make it work with his clients both leading up to filming as well as on set. For example, while training for Tarzan with Alex the first time around, Magnus has detailed in the past that they faced their own unique challenges during the process, including trouble with the final round of Alex’s shredding. He noted that Alex’s body wasn’t losing its last bit of body fat, and the pair was able to overcome this with an updated approach to his program, ultimately achieving success for the first day of filming. Magnus is the go-to expert behind Hollywood’s biggest transformations for a reason, and remains a trusted colleague as well as friend of his A-list clients.
Throughout his star-studded career, alongside a life dedicated to his own wellness journey, Magnus has developed the “Magnus Method,” a training philosophy that embraces the “ethos of an athlete,” approaching fitness with the same specific intensity and structure that an athlete would, whilst also maintaining a balanced and healthy life. It is this ethos that inspired Magnus to take this method and bring it to a larger consumer base, his devoted fans and followers, by creating his own personal fitness app, appropriately titled the Magnus Method App which is powered by Playbook. Through the app, subscribers are given access to training programs inspired by those used to train the actors mentioned above, as well as comprehensive nutrition guides and the ability to engage with Magnus directly via direct messaging in the app. Magnus is now preparing to release the Viking program onto his app, that will, as the name entails, give his subscribers direct access to training and nutrition regimens directly inspired by those used to transform Alex for the film. Fans and athletes alike can get started with Magnus via the app for just $1 for the first month of training, and stay in the know about Magnus’ next exciting Hollywood transformation. The Northman program is set to release on the Magnus Method App in April alongside the premiere of The Northman on April 22nd.
Published April 18, 2022