Alexander Skarsgård’s Personal Trainer, Magnus Lygdbäck, was charged with transforming the 46-year-old actor’s physique into that of a Viking warrior of terrifying stature, for The Northman.
In just three months, Lygdbäck took Skarsgård through his transformation, using a demanding schedule of five or six workouts a week, using a combination of movements and weights to build muscle, strength and athletic capacity. Now, you too can put some Viking battle strength into your body, with this exclusive RSNG workout designed by Lygdbäck…
Strength and conditioning expert Magnus Lygdbäck was told that Skarsgård’s physique had to be shown in the same definition in multiple on-set situations – sitting, striding, holding weapons and, of course, in combat.
So, strength exercises that packed on muscle – whilst working into a total body plan that still offered movement and versatility – were crucial. Even though well into ‘middle age’, consistent training allowed Skarsgård to transform his physique, making it “thicker, stronger and as imposing as possible,” says Lygdbäck.
You’ll find anything that calls for on full-body strength, arm endurance and the ability to use rotational forces, much easier – from chopping wood, to playing a round of golf
Skarsgård ran a calorie surplus to help him pack on 20lbs of muscle for his role of the charismatic warrior and leader, who charged into battle with peak aggression, a weapon in each hand. So as well as more muscle, he required more endurance, in order to film these scenes.
Sure, you might not need to use a Viking hand axe in your day to day life but the workout below will bring new strength to your upper body, while increasing your athletic ability. You’ll find any activity that relies on full body strength, arm endurance and the ability to resist and utilize rotational forces much easier, from chopping wood, to playing a round of golf…
How To Do This Workout Do this workout twice a week, allowing 2-3 days between each session, or add it into your weekly program as a full-body workout that also targets the arms. Make sure that you select a weight that you can safely complete all reps with perfect form (you can increase the weight by 5% per week in order to progress and keep adapting). Keep the intensity up by timing your rest periods between sets and exercises.
This workout features intense periods of effort, so if you’re returning to exercise after a break, or working out for the first time, then make sure you consult with your doctor first, and do exercises under supervision.
Alexander Skarsgård’s The Northman Workout
1. EZ-Bar Biceps Curl Sets: 3-4 | Reps: 10-12 | Rest: 40-60 seconds between sets
- Select a weight that allows you to isolate your biceps and avoid using momentum and tilting your torso to lift.
- Curl the bar up and squeeze at the top for peak contraction.
- Lower the bar all the way down before lifting up again.
2. Battle Ropes Sets: 3-6 | Reps: 30-120 seconds | Rest: 40-60 seconds between sets
Take these movements one at a time, and do one or two sets of each:
- Take a battle rope in each hand, slightly bend your knees and brace your core.
- Alternately ‘whip’ each battle rope to create a wave running down the entire length.
- Keep the movement smooth and consistent.
- Brace your core and use your arms, shoulders and hips to lift up the ropes.
- Use your whole body to power the slam into the ground. Maintain the same force and intent throughout the set.
- Bring your hands together, slightly bend your knees, brace your core.
- Swing both ropes powerfully to the left.
- Keep the momentum going and swing the ropes to the right, keeping your core braced.
3. Kettlebell Halo Sets: 3-4 | Reps: 10-16 | Rest: 40-60 seconds between sets
- Start on your knees and brace your core.
- Keep your arms tucked in and the kettlebell in front of you, but not on your chest.
- Rotate the kettlebell around your head, making sure not to let your elbows back too far behind your body.
4. Kettlebell Bulgarian Split Squat Sets: 3-4 | Reps: 8-10 reps | Rest: 60-90 seconds between sets
- Rack a kettlebell in the creases of your arms, close to your chest.
- Place one foot on a bench behind you.
- Lower slowly into the split squat, keeping your torso upright and your knee aligned.
- Drive up through the heel of your forward foot.
5. Landmine Rotation Sets: 3-4 | Reps: 10-20 (each side) | Rest: 40-60 seconds between sets
- Use a ‘landmine’ attachment, or anchor the barbell in a corner using a weight plate.
- Brace your core, straighten your arms, then lower the bar to one side with an arcing motion.
- Use your core to help resist the weight on the lowering phase.
- Use the ground and your core to power the bar back to the start.
WHAT NEXT? Want some quick hacks to optimize your workout and get more done in less time? Then read the RSNG guide here.
Photos: Adobe Stock