Magnus Lygdbäck during a press day at the 1 Hotel West Hollywood in Los Angeles, California | Courtesy of Ivanna Jackson
Young Prince Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård, “The Legend of Tarzan”) is on the cusp of becoming a man when his father (Ehan Hawke, “Training Day”) is brutally murdered by his uncle (Claes Bang, “The Square”), who kidnaps the boy’s mother (Nicole Kidman, “Moulin Rouge!”). Fleeing his island kingdom by boat, the child vows revenge. Two decades later, Amleth is a Viking berserker raiding Slavic villages, where a seeress reminds him of his vow: avenge his father, save his mother, kill his uncle. Traveling on a slave ship to Iceland, Amleth infiltrates his uncle’s farm with the help of Olga (Anya Taylor-Joy, “The Queen’s Gambit”), an enslaved Slavic woman — and sets out to honor his vow.
I was invited to get a taste of what it was like to train like a Northman. We did floor crawls, turning sit-ups and more. Magnus Lygdbäck is the mastermind behind the fitness that gave Alexander Skarsgård the hot viking fit look. I had a few minutes to speak to Lygdbäck to talk about being part of the making of The Northman. In addition, talking about fitness and how he came to be a celebrity trainer and more!
Nancy Tapia: There is no surprise to see you involved in this big film. You’re a celebrity trainer. You were behind the training for our current Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot. What was the challenge for The Northman?
Magnus Lygdbäck: There’s always a challenge. There is a lot of pressure getting someone there for the part. So that is always the challenge and the pressure. This time it was about building a viking who looks like a beast. I definitely felt the pressure in the whole process. You always do and you want to get there.
Magnus Lygdbäck: Normally it’s the actor that wants you. Sometimes the production or director or producer. But I worked with Alex on The Legend of Tarzan so we got to know each other, we became friends. I knew this movie was in the making so I was very happy when Alex gave me the call. So yeah, he is the one who reached out.
Nancy Tapia: How do you start? How do you put it together with meal plan, training, routine. When did you start?
Magnus Lygdbäck: About six months before. We had a little break because of the pandemic for three months. So a total of nine months of training. You start by looking at someone where they are and where you need to go for how you want them to look. To move the right way and execute everything because you need to build a strong foundation. The thing we never talk about is the look, although it’s about the look. My main objective is to keep someone danger free. So I needed to make sure he was physically moving as well and stayed danger free. That’s something to really pay attention to in the beginning.
Nancy Tapia: What was Alex’s best part? Diet, training?
Magnus Lygdbäck: I think he loved the build up, the bulk up phase. He loves food, so he enjoyed that. He didn’t have to be on a crazy diet while filming. So I think he enjoyed those Saturdays that he got to cook and have a glass of wine.
Nancy Tapia: You gave us a taste of what it was like to train to be a Northman. And mentioned training while filming? How often did this take place?
Magnus Lygdbäck: Everyday. I think for physical and elemental standards if you’re going shirtless on set it’s important to start the day with a workout. Because it sets the physical element and standard that you take with you on set for the day.
Nancy Tapia: So for how many hours a day?
Magnus Lygdbäck: One hour and never more than one. We might do stunt work a month before. But then it’s more technical. I never train more than an hour with any of my actors. Never for more than one hour a day.
Nancy Tapia: We usually have this idea that celebrities train 6-8 hours.
Magnus Lygdbäck: I know, it gets misinterpreted. When you ask an actor how much they worked out they might say an hour at the gym then stunt work, fight scene that turns into more than an hour thing. But that’s mostly technical. In the gym you don’t spend more than an hour. Or at least I don’t. What doesn’t happen in the first hour at the gym it won’t happen the second.
Nancy Tapia: That’s brilliant. It’s like music to my ears, haha… You also mentioned being a strong believer of being able to have a little bit of everything.
Magnus Lygdbäck: Yes, I think it’s extremely important to not deprive yourself. You need to stick to a strategy that works and can live. What’s the reason if you can’t have the food that you like,that’s a poor life and it’s going to be really hard to stick to it. You need to come up with a strategy that works long term. So at the end of the day there is protein, fat and carbs. You need to eat a combination of them, and the right combination of them. And there is room to eat pizza if you want to.
Nancy Tapia: I love hearing that we should not deprive ourselves. But now let’s talk a little bit about you. How did all this come into your life and making it a career?
Magnus Lygdbäck: That’s an interesting question. I played a lot of sports growing up. I used to play professional hockey back home in Sweden. I became a trainer and been doing it for 21 years and I always wanted to help people. I always say, these movies are the best side gig I’ve ever had. My passion is to help people from darkness to light. To be healthier and be healthier.
Nancy Tapia: How have those trademarks been for you with fitness and entertainment?
Magnus Lygdbäck: Yeah, that started 15 years ago. I started to work with pop artists. What people don’t know because I never talk about it is that I’ve been working with a lot of big pop artists in the work. Helping them structure and traveling on tour. Making sure to help them prepare for touring and performing. So it’s how it started, started with athletes, artists then some actors and now that’s mostly what I do.
Nancy Tapia: Now tell us how we can train like a Northman. There’s your website magnusmethodapp.com I checked it out and it looks super moting!
Magnus Lygdbäck: Yeah, I am super excited that om magnusmehodapp.com we have a six week Northman program with the training I put Alex through. Both men and women can do it, it’s $1 for 30 days. I am happy to give people that opportunity.
Nancy Tapia: And it’s super affordable at $14.99 after 30 days. We spend more than that a month on coffee.
Magnus Lygdbäck: Yes, I’ve been doing this for 21 years. The proof is in the pudding. I feel like I know what I am doing so people will get results in that program and I am excited. Every time I do a challenge like this on an app people get great results. I am really happy to be able to do that.
Nancy Tapia: You have a very successful career, what is your next goal?
Magnus Lygdbäck: The next goal is trying to invest in companies that are doing good in the world and being a part of that. Allow myself to be creative in those ways. But my goal is to get Anya Taylor-Joy trained before Furiosa. I am prepping her right now to take the role now as a young Charlize Theron. So that is the short term goal that I have.
Nancy Tapia: That’s exciting! Thank you so much for the time and the work out you gave us earlier. I broke a sweat, haha…
Magnus Lygdbäck: Haha…thank you so much for coming.
The Northman in theaters April, 22, 2022