It’s been 15 years since we last saw Lara Croft, the archaeologist-turned-adventurer who transformed Angelina Jolie into one of this century’s best-known action heroines. But, in an era that has brought us fierce females Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Black Widow (Avengers; Scarlett Johansson) and Rey (Star Wars; Daisy Ridley), now seems the right time for a revival. Only it’s not Angelina Jolie swinging Croft’s axes and shooting her arrows, but Swedish actress Alicia Vikander. Vikander, 29, has already received global recognition for her roles in The Danish Girl and Jason Bourne, and now she’s ready to set the film world alight with her powerful portrayal of a young Croft in the new Tomb Raider reboot, which hits UK cinemas on March 16.
GET A ! Lara Croft Body Photo Gallery
Rumour has it viewers are set to be mesmerised by Vikander’s energetic performance and equally strikingly lean physique. Everyone on the media circuit is already talking about her eight-pack abs, and it’s been widely reported that Vikander’s toned silhouette is down to stepping up her fitness regime with guidance from Hollywood trainer Magnus Lygdbäck. Lygdbäck is the mastermind behind the Magnus Method (magnusmethod. com), in which he builds training plans with the same structure as those created for professional athletes. His long list of A-list clients include Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Mike Posner and Avicii, plus he can be credited for getting Alexander Skarsgård in shape for Legend of Tarzan and Ben Affleck bulked up for Batman vs Superman. And now he’s turned his attention to Vikander. ‘I started working with Alicia seven months before filming,’ Lygdbäck told us of his time on Tomb Raider. ‘I sent her daily workouts and nutrition plans before joining her in London to train with her every day.’ Vikander’s role as Lara Croft is her most physical so far, and both actress and coach claim that she pushed her body to the extreme for it.
Shaping up ‘I wanted her [Lara Croft] to be strong, so I started to gain muscle and gain strength,’ says Vikander. ‘It’s been a very physical adventure.’ Fight scenes, wirework, high-speed chases, water stunts – the rebooted Lara Croft is incredibly athletic, and Lygdbäck says Vikander was the right woman for the role. ‘Alicia is a force of nature. She never complained about anything,’ the trainer reveals. ‘We wanted her to look strong but not bulky. To be lean, she had to have low body fat. Then she needed skills – we needed a Lara Croft who could jump, fight and use an axe.’ While Vikander had a stunt double for the more dangerous exploits, she was determined to do a lot of the moves herself. ‘Bruises and hits, you suck up, but the cold is the tough thing – when you reach hypothermia level,’ said the actress. ‘We even had to re-shoot things because I turned too blue.’ It’s this do-or-die attitude that helped Vikander get in such great shape for the film. ‘Alicia never complained about anything,’ adds Lygdbäck. ‘The only times our heads would clash is when I forced her to take a day off.’ It’s rumoured that Vikander, who is a trained ballet dancer, gained an impressive 12Ib of muscle for the movie – and it shows.
It wasn’t a short journey. To help Vikander build a foundation of fitness, Lygdbäck put the actress on his Magnus Method Lifestyle Plan. This emphasises basic movement and strength training, as well as a nutrition programme that consists of eating healthy meals every three hours. ‘After that, we went to the extreme,’ says Lygdbäck. ‘An extra day in the gym when I would normally tell someone to take a day off. All meals were on point; there weren’t any “cheat meals”.’
Four months before production, Vikander started one-on-one ‘heavy training’ with Lygdbäck. The first phase was a ‘build-up’ plan for two months, and consisted of four strength workouts. The second phase was the ‘cutting cycle’, which defined Vikander’s physique with explosive moves and supersets. ‘In the build-up phase, we never did more than 60 minutes of strength training,’ explains Lygdbäck. ‘During the cutting cycle, Alicia started doing around 25-30 minutes of high-intensity training in the morning and another 45 minutes of strength training in the afternoon.’ Vikander also had to learn MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), climbing and archery. ‘We tried to keep the stunt training as technical as possible,’ adds Lygdbäck. ‘There might have been four to five hours of different work every day, but the stunts were very skill-based, so Alicia could expend all of her energy in the gym.’ A strong core was a must. ‘Her core changed dramatically – Alicia had an eight-pack,’ says Lygdbäck. This was thanks to the Magnus Core Special plan – a three-day cycle of core exercises on top of all her other training. Phew!
After seven months of training, you’d think Vikander would be due a break – but working out doesn’t stop when filming begins. ‘For me, the most important part of the plan is when they start filming,’ explains Lygdbäck. ‘They’re filming for six months, so there’s no way you can let it [Vikander’s fitness] go.’ Vikander started her day on set with one of Lygdbäck’s exercise sessions. ‘Before my actors go into make-up, we do a workout,’ he says. ‘That sets a physical and mental standard for the day.’
The sheer amount of exercise Vikander did for her role is impressive. But for Lygdbäck, whose Magnus Method focuses on a holistic approach to fitness, it’s not his signature selling point. ‘Believe it or not, I preach balance through the right training and nutrition,’ he says. ‘You should eat foods you like – a fistful of protein and a fistful of energy [in each meal], which could be good fats or carbohydrates. Seventeen out of 20 meals should be healthy; three can be treats. Same thing with training. Same approach to everything in life.’ As a certified life coach who has been training clients for more than 18 years, Lygdbäck’s holistic approach makes sense, but he admits balance isn’t always possible for action roles. ‘They [actresses] don’t have much time and they’re getting paid to look a certain way – it’s their job,’ says Lygdbäck. ‘They can take it a step further than a normal person would.’ And it’s not only Vikander that’s training hard. Lygdbäck is already working with Gal Gadot for her role in Wonder Woman 2, out in 2019. ‘It’s a great year, a great era, for empowering women,’ says the Hollywood trainer. ‘Nowadays, it’s OK to be a strong woman. I’ve been preaching that for 18 years so I’m very happy to be part of something like this.’ Girl power!
TRAIN LIKE ALICIA VIKANDER
Do you have the stamina to work out like an action heroine? Try these moves based on Lygdbäck’s Magnus Method and watch the fat fall away!
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