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This Is How Alexander Skarsgard Got Totally Ripped For The Northman

"The Northman" stars Alexander Skarsgård as Amleth, a former prince who returns home after many years to exact revenge for the murder of his father, King Aurvandil War-Raven (Ethan Hawke), and the kidnapping of his mother, Queen Gundrún (Nicole Kidman). Amleth, who was raised by a band of Vikings after narrowly escaping a similar fate, embarks on a brutal journey to confront his murderous uncle, Fjölnir the Brotherless (Claes Bang).

The Robert Eggers Viking epic, which will land in theaters on April 22, has received strong praise from critics, many of whom have noted the ferocity of Skarsgård's acting. Indeed, the film's leading man is a sight to behold, navigating an ancient world of mysticism and violence with seemingly unlimited stamina.

Skarsgård has mentioned how grueling an ordeal it was to shoot "The Northman," especially coming as he was on the heels of a stint with HBO's "Succession," but it's clear that all the hard work paid off. As Amleth, the actor is a ferocious wall of muscle, making every bit of struggle and bloody combat feel believable. His costar Ralph Ineson, who plays Captain Volodymyr, told NME that the transformation was stunning and compared him to a bodybuilder.

"He's made himself look like some kind of monster for the part, the dedication's incredible," he said. "I think it will be a bit of a masterpiece, to be honest."

So, how did Skarsgård go from lean to mean and shredded? His personal trainer for "The Northman" explained the process, and it sounds like a lot.

Workouts for The Northman took weeks of discipline and lots of food

Thanks to a report by Collider, we've got an in-depth look at how trainer Magnus Lygdbäck got Alexander Skarsgård in shape for "The Northman." It sounds as though Lygdbäck followed a classic regimen with some of his own wisdom and preferences mixed in.

First was the bulking period, during which Skarsgård ate lots of food to build as much muscle mass as possible. Lygdbäck revealed, "Alex loves to eat so ask him and he'll tell you, that's his favorite cycle." After that came cutting, which saw Skarsgård training to keep the newly gained muscle while shredding excess fat. This is one area where it sounds like Lygdbäck made some changes to accommodate Skarsgård's specific needs for "The Northman."

As the trainer explained, "Normally, I do eight to ten weeks, but we didn't want Alex to be too shredded. He's shredded enough, right? And we wanted him to look a little thicker." And finally, Lygdbäck worked with the actor to keep his body in peak-physical performance throughout the movie to avoid the possibility of injuries while filming the action-heavy sequences.

While movie star training programs are often associated with mounds of unseasoned chicken or other such bulking foods, Lygdbäck says training for "The Northman" allowed Skarsgård to eat more or less what he wanted. As he put it, "We allowed Alex to have a glass of wine on Saturdays and eat food that he likes to eat."

However, that doesn't mean the food was unimportant. Lygdbäck instructed Skarsgård to eat five meals per day, and he also personally designed Skarsgård's menus, making sure the actor finished his plate. Said the trainer, "If that means you need to stand over and tell him to finish, that's what's gonna happen."

This isn't Skårsgard's first time training with Lygdbäck

Alexander Skarsgård's hardcore transformation for "The Northman" wasn't the first time he's trained with Magnus Lygdbäck. The celebrity trainer, who has worked with stars like Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot, also helped the actor prepare for his leading role in the 2016 film "The Legend of Tarzan."

To play Tarzan, Skarsgård underwent movement practice and a four-month training regimen in which he gained 25 pounds. Lygdbäck, who is known for creating jaw-dropping results with his clients, admitted that he was shocked by Skarsgård's dedication.

"I've never seen anyone more hardworking," he told Men's Journal. "I had to force him to take days off sometimes. He was eating food out of a box for about eight months, and not a drop of alcohol."

Like the regimen for "The Northman," this fitness journey involved a strict diet and a focus on weight-lifting. Given their success together, it's no surprise that they teamed up again for the Viking film. Lygdbäck told GQ that he enjoys working with Skarsgård, who responds well to their training and shows a fierce dedication to the work.

"You know, working with Alex is just — you know what you're getting," he said. "You get someone who's talented, hard working, and has the genetics."

Lygdbäck went on to say that, despite the stunning results, Skarsgård isn't naturally a gym rat. "He's a guy who likes to drink beer, or have a burger," he said, noting that his client's love of running was beneficial to their training.