Try the Alicia Vikander ‘Tomb Raider’ Workout Plan to Get in the Best Shape of Your Life

Alicia Vikander might be an accomplished Hollywood actress, but she’s also a hardcore fitness buff. Many have come to envy the Tomb Raider star for her fabulously toned body. Her photos have caused a social media frenzy, like when she famously showed off a chiseled eight-pack in a red bikini in Spain.

As Vikander exercised and ate right, her goal was to possess the physique and skills of character Lara Croft in the action film reboot. Here we’ll show how she achieved her results. First, you’ll see her workout routine, followed by her diet (page 5). Lastly, see what a woman who tried the Tomb Raider fitness plan for four weeks had to say about it (page 7).

1. Swimming

She swam in ice-cold water. | Warner Bros.

One of the stunts Vikander undertook in the movie was swimming in ice-cold water. In real life, part of her exercise routine included swimming — although probably in more bearable water temperatures.

Swimming is a great way to both get a cardio workout and build muscle, without causing joint strain. Since endless laps in the pool can get boring, however, some swimmers follow an interval routine like this one provided by Shape magazine.

Next: A great strength-training exercise

2. Rock climbing

Alicia Vikander plays Lara Croft in Tomb Raiders

Alicia Vikander as Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft | Warner Bros.

In addition to strength training, Vikander worked to build the skills Croft possesses in the Tomb Raider movie and video game. One such method was rock climbing. “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.”

Next: An alternative for those afraid of heights


3. Weights

Weights are incredibly important to this regimen. | iStock

Vikander’s early days of training involved plenty of strength exercises to help her bulk up her five-foot-five frame. This helped her gain 12 pounds of muscle and achieve the toned arms and back that moviegoers see in the many action scenes. “I lifted more weights than I’ve ever done in my life,” she told E!. Her strength training went in four-day cycles as follows:

  • Day One: Legs
  • Day Two: Chest and shoulders
  • Day Three: Back and shoulders
  • Day Four: Biceps and triceps

Next: An intense exercise for core, arms, and legs

4. MMA-style training

She did MMA training to prepare for the role. | iStock

Vikander added MMA into her workout routine for both strength training and cardio fitness. Like swimming, a martial arts-type workout provides both of these benefits. MMA effectively helps strengthen your core, arms, and legs.

Taylor Ferber from Bustle tried a workout at the Tomb Raider “Croftcamp” in Los Angeles led by Lygdback (Vikander’s trainer). The session consisted of three stations, one of which was MMA. Ferber noted that station consisted of both throwing punches for minutes straight and taking punches. “Having the strength to endure continuous punches while holding your footing takes so much work,” she wrote.

Next: What she ate

5. Tomb Raider Diet

Eggs and other protein are the bedrock of the Tomb Raider diet.  iStock

Vikander ate a diet of balanced foods containing lots of protein. Lunch and dinner included 40 grams of protein, 40 grams of good carbs, and 30 grams of healthy fat. Here are some of the foods she ate:

  • Breakfast: 3 poached eggs
  • Lunch: Fish or other protein, plus slow carbs like quinoa or vegetables
  • In-between meals: Fistful-size, protein-rich snacks for a quick boost, like chicken skewers, sashimi, or grilled octopus

“For me, it’s important that if you know what you’re doing, you can actually have good food and enjoy it,” Lygdback told USA Today. “And you’ll have a six-pack after eating it.”

Next: Did she take rest breaks?

6. Rest Days

Alicia Vikander

Actress Alicia Vikander arrives on the red carpet for the 88th Oscars on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California. | Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images

Vikander took her training very seriously, and sometimes Lygdback needed to tell the Tomb Raider star to take a day off. Occasionally, “she needs someone like me (to say), ‘It’s OK. We’re going to take a step back. Take a day off. Relax,’” he said.

The pitfalls of overtraining can include injured muscles, a weight-loss plateau, trouble sleeping, exhaustion, and burnout. Taking a day to rest helps your muscles to grow. While working them hard stimulates muscle-building proteins, giving your body time to recover is equally important.

Next: This woman tried it.

A woman who tried the workouts

Actress Alicia Vikander

Alicia Vikander attends the 89th Annual Academy Awards in February 2017. | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Writer Amy Rushlow jumped at the chance to try the Tomb Raider workout when she was invited to train with Lygdback as part of the movie’s promotions. Rushlow followed an individualized plan of 45-minute weight-lifting sessions four days a week, core work, and high-intensity running intervals three days a week.

After four weeks, Rushlow felt stronger and toner with better endurance. She did feel it all required a lot of time and great physical effort. “Change requires pushing your limits and getting out of your comfort zone, which I definitely did, and I’m proud of myself for the effort I put in,” she wrote. See her Shape article for more on her Tomb Raider workout experience.

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