Magnus Lygdbäck, a trainer in Hollywood who has worked with the likes of Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot to develop physiques for their roles as Batman and Wonder Woman, has revealed his process for turning Big Little Lies star Alexander Skarsgård into the hulking protagonist of the new Robert Eggers film The Northman.


Lydgbäck shared some of his own recommendations for dieting, which include avoiding peanuts and eating mashed potatoes too, and got into how Skarsgård handled the extremely intensive training. Lydbäck said that developing an actor’s transformation can be seen as “three different cycles,” he told Entnment Weekly.

Actors will first have to “bulk-up,” or put as much muscle as possible on without worrying about fat, and then Lydgbäck puts them through a “cutting cycle where you try to shed all the fat that needs to be shredded while keeping the muscle mass.” Actors then have to maintain that specific look through the whole filming period, which he calls the “maintenance cycle,” and refers to it as the “hardest” area.

Even though the actor began the program “skinny” and gained “between 20 and 30 pounds for this,” Lydgbäck praised him as “a dream client.” He said that the actor was always “focused” on whatever exercise had to do and joked “I think he just loves the process. Or sometimes he hates the process, but he knows it’s going to be worth it.”

The trainer even had a unique hand in Skarsgård’s actual performance. Lydgbåck’s role wasn’t just in preparation for the shoot, and he mentioned that he was also available on the film’s set to assist Skarsgård in developing his body language for the character of Amleth. “I do movement coaching and worked with him,” Lydgbåck began. “An actor can give you 200 emotions, but I can tell him to give more depth in the back, so your rhomboid pop out more. Or rotate forward so your trapezius pops out so you look more animal-like.”

Lydgbåck is still learning new tricks, however. When asked about the soundtracks for their workouts before and during The Northman filming, he said, “We were listening to a lot of old-school electronic music from the ’80s, and also an Italian disco genre called Italo.” The trainer admitted he hadn’t heard of Italo before, but said the “cheesy, cool, electronic music,” ended up being perfect to have on in the gym.

You can watch the second trailer for The Northman, which was released in Theaters on April 22, 2022, here:

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