Alicia Vikander Gained 12 Pounds of Muscle for Her Tomb Raider Role—Here's How

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Matthias Nareyek/Getty

Alicia Vikander is known best for her roles in films like Euphoria, The Light Between Oceans, The Danish Girl, and, as of this month, Tomb Raider. This stark transition from dramatic lead to action hero was only really only eclipsed, in our eyes, by the physical transformation she underwent to play the film's heroine, Lara Croft. For the film, she worked hard to become incredibly toned, defined, and muscular. Thanks to an intense fitness regimen developed by an expert trainer, her hard work paid off (just wait until you see her abs).

That trainer was Magnus Lygdback, who also worked with Alexander Skarsgård to build muscle for 2016's The Legend of Tarzan. Lucky for us, he recently opened up to Men's Journal about Vikander's specific fitness routine, detailing the exact exercises she did to gain 12 pounds of muscle before filming. Suffice to say, the fitness routine is intense. After you see it, you'll understand why we're giving major props to Vikander. You'll also understand why we're so inspired to hit the weights.

"Alicia had an incredible work ethic, which comes from her past as a ballerina," said Lygdback. "She was already strong going into this process, but she wasn't 'Lara Croft' strong." In order to get her there, Lygdback used four training phases, which focused on building muscle mass and then definition. Simultaneously, he put Vikander through a three-phase core program to target her abs. (This was the very same one he put Skarsgård through, in fact.)

This base workout routine was paired with a streamlined diet developed to build healthy muscle mass, with 40 grams of protein, 40 grams of good carbs, and 30 grams of healthy fat daily. She stuck to three meals a day, along with two protein-based snacks like chicken and sashimi.

On top of all of that, Vikander spent "hours" working on skills like rock climbing and mixed martial arts so she could better act out the character. "No matter where we were in the world we found cliffs and rock walls for Alicia to hang off of," Lygdback said. "We hadn't seen the script yet, we didn't have particular scenes to rehearse, but we were able to anticipate the kind of action that she would be doing because of the character." As you can imagine, this added up to a substantial amount of each day being spent in the gym.

If you're like us, and you have no idea where to start when building muscle mass and definition (nor endless hours to spend in the gym), know that you can follow a distilled version of Vikander's exact routine, which Lygdback shared. Before you see it, be warned: It's just as intense as he made it sound. Then add rock climbing and martial arts training, and we can see how it's a fitness routine made for Lara Croft.

Day 1: Legs

Day one consisted of deadlifts, squats, lunges with weights, and leg presses. Start off with a series that's comfortable for you, then build up resistance, weight, and/or reps as you get stronger. In other words, don't injure yourself by going too hard too soon. Consider consulting a fitness expert beforehand.

Day 2: Chest and Shoulders

Throughout the movie, Vikander does pull-ups, one-armed rope swings, and more. It's in these scenes that you see her incredibly powerful and defined shoulder muscles (seriously, we were majorly inspired to hit the weights after seeing them). To work the area, she did chest presses, bench push-ups, and dumbbell push-ups, along with machine work.

Day 3: Back and Shoulders

For back and shoulders, Lygdback put Vikander through a series of machine pull-downs, rowing, lateral raises, and more.

Day 4: Biceps and Triceps

Vikander's arms were targeted through traditional bicep curls (which you can see her doing on Lygdback's Instagram account), triceps presses, and push-downs. To see the specific amount of reps she did for each move, head over to Men's Journal.

To see a holistic view of Vikander's incredible fitness results, you can watch Tomb Raider, which is out in theaters now. Personally, we love to see a strong female lead taking over the silver screen. Watching Vikander leap, run, and swing around ruins as Lara Croft, gives us the same motivation and inspiration that we felt watching Gal Gadot take on the role of Wonder Woman. Can we all agree that the world needs more movies featuring strong female action heroes? We love to see actresses like Vikander and Gadot lead the way.