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Alexander Skarsgard's Workout For 'The Northman,' According To His Trainer

These are the intense moves the Swedish actor did to prep for his Viking role.

The action-packed thriller The Northman was released on April 22 of this year. The film stars Alexander Skarsgård, who has an incredibly muscular, godlike body. In the film, Skarsgård takes on the character of Amleth, a Viking prince who embarks on a journey fueled with revenge after his father is murdered. Standing at 6'4, Skarsgård worked out hard with personal trainer and nutritionist Magnus Lygdbäck to prep for the warrior role, which yielded jaw-dropping results. We have all the secrets to Alexander Skarsgård's workout regimen for The Northman, so read on to learn more. And next, be sure to check out The 6 Best Exercises for Strong and Toned Arms in 2022, Trainer Says.

Training hard for movie roles isn't new to the Swedish actor

Alexander Skarsgard, Tarzan
Lalo Yasky / Contributor

Working out hard for movie roles isn't new to the 45-year-old Swedish actor, as he's played our favorite man of the jungle in The Legend of Tarzan. He also played the role of Nicole Kidman's (Celeste's) husband Perry in HBO's Big Little Lies and has adorned the cover of several magazines, including Muscle & Fitness.

In fact, Lygdbäck previously revealed to Muscle & Fitness that training for Skarsgård's Tarzan role in 2016 was pretty intense. "We went really hard but still kept it to an hour, and we never did two sessions a day during [the] bulking phase. He did six or seven days a week, and when we needed a day off, we'd take a day off. But when we took those days off, it was because I made him rest. He wanted to go every day," Lygdbäck says. Alexander Skarsgård also followed a high-calorie diet, consuming around 7,000 calories daily. Skarsgård reveals he was always eating, and he always felt full.

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Alexander Skarsgård started his Northman fitness regimen with the basics—"building a character"

Alexander Skarsgard, The Northman LA premiere
MICHAEL TRAN / Contributor

For both Tarzan and Northman roles, the actor worked out with Lygdbäck. Lygdbäck reveals to Men's Health, "Being Swedish, I know the history of Vikings," adding, "I knew this was going to be an important movie because it's an authentic Viking movie—you can argue it's the first authentic Viking movie. And I know Alex [has] been working on this project for a long time, and I just waited to get the call [to work together on the film]. I was really, really excited when I did."

How did Skarsgård train for The Northman? Well, Lygbäck started with the basics, explaining to Men's Health, "It's always about building a character … His spiritual animals in this movie [are] a wolf and a bear. He's a wolf-bear. So we needed him to move and be agile like a wolf, and we need him to look like a bear."

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He performed strength workouts based on the moves his character made in the film

Alexander Skarsgard closeup black outfit, northman screening
Mike Marsland / Contributor

The goal, according to Skarsgård's trainer, was to build the actor's muscles and make him "thicker" to what he refers to as "imposing." In addition to having his body look the part, Skarsgård had to train for moves his character would do in the film. For example, Lygbäck would plan strength training workouts based on the specific moves Amleth would have to make. "There's no CGI, there [are] no different angles, where you can cut from one angle to another to save the look of a movement. It's very pure, and it all needs to connect," Lygbäck tells Men's Health.

This is what the workouts Skarsgård did for The Northman looked like

battle ropes for workout

As for the Northman workouts? Because they were training amidst the COVID-19 shutdown, the pair constructed their own workout space in Skarsgård's garage in order to perform strengthening exercises for the actor's core, hips, and shoulders. They improvised with battle ropes, landmines, and more creative tweaks that replaced heavy weights and machines. See a sample of the workouts Skarsgård did below, and you can try to replicate to build your own Viking bod.

  • EZ Bar Biceps Curl (3-4 sets, 10-12 reps)
  • Battle Ropes (waves, slams, and side-to-side; 3-6 sets, 30 seconds-2 minutes)
  • Kettlebell Halo (3-4 sets, 10-16 reps)
  • Kettlebell Bulgarian Split Squat (3-4 sets, 8-10 reps)
  • Landmine Rotation (3-4 sets, 10-20 reps for each side)
Alexa Mellardo
Alexa is the Mind + Body Deputy Editor of Eat This, Not That!, overseeing the M+B channel and delivering compelling fitness, wellness, and self-care topics to readers. Read more about Alexa