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Jul 11, 2016
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Before anything else, we want you to know that Alexander Skarsgård’s ridiculously cut abs are 100-percent legit. No make-up, no CGI, no "Salamat, Doc."

Now, how do you achieve that?

JOE.co.uk interviewed Skarsgård's trainer and nutritionist Magnus Lygdback, who prepared the newest Tarzan for his toughest role yet. And what we found out didn’t surprise us. To get those guns and those cuts, you, and, uhm, us, must stick to to time-tested reliables—good ol’ fashioned hard work, lots of time training in the gym, and a diet of whopping 7,000 ultra-clean calories.

Lygdback's first job was to build Skarsgård some lean muscle mass. He designed a three-month bulking phase to add as much size as possible without adding too much body fat to the True Blood vet's already-lean frame, which was followed by a four- to five-week cut. The workout process consists of two phases.

Phase 1: Bulking

“Skarsgård is the ultimate 'hardgainer'—lean, tall, and fond of distance running, which probably gave him a metabolism quicker than a 14-year-old boy,” shares Lygdack. The first thing the trainer did was to stop the actor from running, preventing him from burning all those extra calories so he could start putting on weight.

The bulking phase started on 5,000 calories, but then, Skarsgård was losing weight and body fat, so this was increased to 7,000 calories per day. See the full diet here

To start adding muscle to his frame Skarsgård underwent serious strength work. His weekly training plan: a day each for legs, chest and front delts, back and rear delts, and for biceps and triceps. He also did core exercises every other day.

Skarsgård also did an additional power workout two mornings per week, which included yoga, resistance training, and sprints. These help the muscles really "pop."

Check out his workout plan below:

Phase 2: Cutting

Three months of clean bulking added muscle mass to Skarsgård's frame, but as filming approached they started to cut.

Lygdback reduced Skarsgård’s calorie intake and pushed him to do more cardio exercises. “The key was keeping his hard-earned muscle while shedding any residual fat to make him look as ripped as possible to play Tarzan,” says Lygdback.

Aside from dieting, Lygdback upped his fat burning power by introducing High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) in the mornings. These sessions were only 20 minutes long and included lots of sprints and functional movements to give his body a short, sharp shock. Increased intensity and high-paced exercises in his strength training were also added.


"What people don’t realize is that heavy lifting is one of the best fat burners there are," Lygdback explains. "It takes up to two days for your body and your muscles to recover.

"You will burn fat for up to two days after you’ve done heavy lifting. You burn more when you’re running around or when you’re doing high intensity training, you burn a lot at that moment. But if you combine that with strength training, you get the perfect combination."

Heavy lifting, according to the trainer, "also allows us men to produce more testosterone. Testosterone gives us more muscle mass, less body fat and more energy and helps us recover faster."

This is what one of his workout plan for Phase 2 looked like:

At the end of the day though, what really got Skarsgård his Tarzan body was his attitude.

"He’s such a hardworking man," says Lygdback. "He is a great human being. He is so determined and hard working. It was not hard for me to work with him."


Photos via Joe.co.uk