Kevin Wendell Crumb is no easy role to play. Crumb suffers a dissociative identity disorder, which gives him 23 different personalities, including “The Beast,” a brute with insane bodily strength and other superhuman abilities. James McAvoy first played the role in 2017’s Split, and he returned to it again for this year’s Glass. But the new film required him to appear in even more shirtless rampaging scenes, which meant taking The Beast to the next level. To prepare, McAvoy had to bulk up with a good workout routine.
Before starting production on Split, McAvoy simply surfed the Internet to find workouts that would help him gain some muscle. This time around, he made a call to Magnus Lygdback, a Swedish trainer who helped Alexander Skarsgard get shredded for Legend Of Tarzan and Ben Affleck put on mass for Justice League. With only 12 weeks to get his new client into beastly shape, Lygdback flew to Montreal, where McAvoy was filming the latest X-Men movie, Dark Phoenix.
The work began almost immediately. Each morning before McAvoy reported to set, Lygdback would lead the actor through a dynamic bulking regime.
“James is one of those guys who loves the process,” said Lygdback. “Because he had already been hitting the gym, and the framework was there, we were able to get more accomplished than I ever imagined.”
The workouts usually clocked in at around an hour, with the rest of the focus going into how McAvoy was getting his fuel. Lygdback’s trademark “Magnus Method” includes coaching for his clients’ nutrition, mindset, and lifestyle.
“Good old Magnus Lygdback had me eating a lot,” McAvoy shared on his Instagram. “We didn’t count a single calorie. We counted macros. I think probably a healthier way of tracking intake.”
Getting the right fuel meant that McAvoy could push harder in the gym, starting with the fundamentals and then working in more dynamic movements. To kick things off, he did 13 straight days of training different muscle groups; eventually Lygdback incorporated rest days into the routine as well. The sessions evolved over time: Once McAvoy got comfortable with an exercise, they would jack up the weight, bring down the reps, and work in pyramid sets.
In the end, McAvoy packed on 16 to 20 pounds of muscle mass, making him the perfect embodiment of his monstrous character.
“I am incredibly proud of the results,” said Lygdback. “Not only is James an amazing actor on camera, but he is not afraid of working hard off of it as well.”
Here’s how he did it.
The Beast Workout: Chest & Arms
Assault Bike: 5 minutes (30 seconds on, 30 seconds off)
Take only minimum rest between sets. Once you get more comfortable with these movements, bring down the reps and bring up the weight.
1. Incline Pushup (on bench): 4 sets of 15 reps
2. Chest Flye (on bench): 3 sets of 15 reps
3. Alternating Biceps Curl: 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps (each side)
4. Skullcrusher: 3 sets of 15 reps
Superset (3 sets)
5A. Cable Curl: 12 reps
5B. Triceps Pushdown: 12 reps
6. The Penguin: 3 sets of 60 seconds each (How to do it: Lie down with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Keeping your legs in this position, crunch up as you reach your right hand toward your right foot. Slowly lower back to center without dropping your torso—keeping constant tension on your abs—as you reach your left hand toward your left food. Repeat this continuous motion.)
7. Dipping Side Plank: 3 sets of 15 reps (each side)
Check out Lygdback’s training programs and tutorials at magnusmethod.com.