You might not be looking to raid a tomb anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get in top physical shape just in case some once-in-a-live-time adventure pops up — and you’ve got to raid a tomb. If this sounds like something you’re interested in, there’s good and bad news: The bad news is that the training is ridiculously rigor and you’re going to push yourself to your physical limits; the good news is that you’re going to have to eat five meals a day…or maybe that’s also bad news?
Warner Bro.’s Tomb Raider reboot hits theaters in one short month, and we’re about to be introduced to a brand new Lara Croft. Alicia Vikander is taking over the role for Angelina Jolie in the 2001 and 2003 movies, and we’re going to see a new side of Lara — we’re now along for the ride on her first adventure, way before she ever took up the mantle of the titular tomb raider.
In order to prepare for the role, Vikander started training three months before filming began with trainer and nutritionist coach Magnus Lygdback. While Lygdback needed to get Vikander into peak physical form for the movie’s intense action stunts — along with archer and MMA fighting — he also needed to mentally prepare her for it. HelloGiggles jumped on the phone with Lygdback to talk through training like Lara, and how if you want to train like her, too, you’ve got eat five meals a day. Really.
HelloGiggles: When you started with Alicia for Lara Croft, how did you simply start with her? I feel like, not only just for myself, but so many other, the first step in a new workout routine always the hardest.
Magnus Lygdback: We’re building a character, so the first thing you do is just sit down with the director, and then the actor or actress and you discuss the character. Who is this person? What does she symbolize? What skills does she need? What’s her background? Everything. I started Alicia off on my Magnus Method Lifestyle plan, which is just a way of boosting your metabolism, building health and muscle mass….The mental aspect and the physical aspect both are very important to me. I would say the journey’s more mental for [Lara] in the movie, than physically.
Did she fight you on anything you were suggesting she train with, or was there anything thing she absolutely hated doing?
ML: We butted heads a few times. Mostly, it was about me forcing her to take a day off. [She didn’t want to take a day for] recovery, she wanted to work out. She’s a very hard worker, super ambitious. I think that would be the only thing we disagreed on sometimes.
HG: Was there anything she pushed herself too hard on, and could you see it in the physical transformation?
ML: Obviously, there were times when I needed to step in and say, “Okay, let’s keep this a little more technical and less physical,” because you don’t want them to overwork themselves. When you need to learn five different things and make that physical transformation at the same time, it’s very…you get overworked. That’s just a part of what I do, work with anyone, and I can…that would happen with any actor I do transformation with, but you have to let them know when it’s time to work and you have to let them know when they need to take a step down and relax a little bit.
HG: Yes, relaxing and self care is just a huge part of all of us being healthy.
ML: Restorative training is very, very important, and treating yourself is very important. I’m a big believer in balance. You might not believe that when you see [Alicia’s transformation], I really preach balance. Life is all about balance, so we can work out the five days a week. That’s kind of a sweet spot. If they had a busy job, if they’ve got a family, three times a week might be enough. I eat five meals a day, and 17 out of 20 meals should be on point. 3 out of 20 meals, you should enjoy life. You should eat something that you like. All about balance.
HG: Once the overall transformation is complete, how do you maintain that after the training’s done?
ML: That’s a good question because that’s the hardest part. Absolutely the hardest part because you go through the buildup phase when they eat a lot of food and they get stronger and build muscle mass. Then, your cutting cycle when you shred the fat and you kind of ride on the border of giving not enough energy. Once they start filming, ideally, they have a lot of muscle mass and low body fat, right? To maintain that combination is extremely hard, so what I do is I just [pair clients] with a chef. Obviously, I make sure that the right food’s coming out on the right time, and that my actors eat it, finish it all. I stay very much in control of what they’re eating and how much they’re working and how much rest they’re getting. I monitor all the time, so I make adjustments accordingly. If I need to up your calories one week because we’ve got a lot of physical stuff going on, I’ll do that. It’s all about monitoring and adjusting.
HG: And now, for someone just like me, I do work out all the time, but I feel like I’ve just completely plateaued with my fitness. What would you suggest for someone who feels like that?
ML: What do you want to achieve? Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to build muscle mass? What’s your goal?
HG: I would love to build muscle mass, so I, too, could become a tomb raider. That’s actually my 2018 resolution.
If you want to gain muscle mass, then you need to focus a little more lifting weights. Strength training and making sure we get your macros in, your fat and carbs and protein. Maybe you’re not eating enough. Maybe you’re not eating five times a day. Maybe too sweet. Could be many things. Maybe you had too much cardio that your body doesn’t have the energy to build muscle. It could be many things, but you can’t do without your cardio and group training, it builds a lot of muscle mass. I can tell you that.
HG: What is the best, absolute best thing you can do to stay in shape, and what is the worst thing you can do?
ML: The worst thing you can do is to talk about training and nutrition in the same sentence. To think that you can treat yourself, are you just setting yourself up for failure if you start excusing yourself by talking training and nutrition? You need to get on top of both in a balanced way. I always say that’s the best way. Make sure that you are eating well, 17 out of 20 meals should be on point. Eating five times a day.
I think training wise, another thing I want to say is that [you should] try to find a workout that you like, and also try to find what do you need, and [a combination of those] two.
HG: I just sit for eight hours at a desk every single day. What is the best thing I can do during the day to stay active while I’m sitting?
ML: What [you need to do] for your brain is to get up at least once a day, or maybe twice a day, and take a five to ten minute walk. Just get up and go out and walk if you can. Just go for clear your mind, get some fresh air, get the blood flowing. I think that’s very helpful. It won’t change your physique, now that’s more your brain. Make sure you get your food in, your meals in. Eat every three hours. Eat your snack, eat your lunch, and get those five meals a day.
So, even though you sit for eight hours, eat five times a day. That’s the nutrition part. Training wise, make sure you get at least three workouts in a week. One hour, three times a week. If you can do all your times a week, that’s your sweet spot.
Okay, perfect. I really like this eat five times a day thing, but I am going to try to start eating healthier.
ML: That’s the way you get your blood sugar and insulin levels stable. That will boost your metabolism. You will see big changes, both mentally and physically.
Tomb Raider hits theaters on March 16th.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.