The Dolph Lundgren Triangle to Success
Action star Dolph Lundgren has made over 70 movies and at 62, he’s not done yet!
With a new approach to life, a beautiful young fiancée, and even more film projects on the horizon, the Swedish-born Rocky IV star is looking and feeling better than ever!
“I think it’s a combination of things,” Dolph says when I hastily attempt to chip into his secret to eternal youth.
If Zoom had a baby face filter, I’d believe he had it switched on!
“When you’re talking about some-one’s looks, there’s the facial structure and the muscles and all that kind of thing, but looks come from the inside as well,” he says. “You can’t expect to have a youthful body without the mindset to match.”
Dolph first took up martial arts in his early teens and it was at this time he began to explore the relationship between his body and mind.
“I think the dichotomy between being a fighter and my laid-back nature is perhaps what helps to keep me young,” he says. “Most people know me for saying ‘I must break you’ (as Ivan Drago) and running around with an assault rifle, but I guess I have two sides. My childhood was abusive, and my dad beat me a lot. I think a lot of kids who were beaten by their dads go into contact sports or the military because they’re some- how trying to be strong and make up for that. On the other hand, I have a
certain softer side to me and a search for the inner truth.
“I started martial arts when I was 14 years old and I had to learn to be a fighter, but I also had to practice the spiritual side of it. This seemed to give me some kind of inner peace and inner calm. Practicing karate and judo was an internal journey as well as a physical one. As I got older, I started to do a lot of meditation. I’ve always continued with that spiritual journey.
“I had a very tough time dealing with the trauma of my childhood up until about five years ago or so. I sort of went in both directions because of it, I guess. Most people who know me, know that softer side and the people who don’t know me, don’t.”
“I had a very tough time dealing with the trauma of my childhood up until about five years ago or so.”
With over 70 movies under his belt, Dolph attributes this professional creativity to his ability to suppress pent up emotion and anger. But he wasn’t born into a creative family and was encouraged to take an academic career path.
“I studied chemical engineering to try to appease my dad,” he says.
“My older brother was an engineer and I wanted to impress my dad and get his love and acceptance too. I was intelligent as a kid and I channeled that into engineering. I got a scholarship to his favourite school, MIT, and at that point I thought ‘well I’ve proven myself now’ and I started to do some acting. I knew that engineering wasn’t for me. It was a nice way to get out of Sweden, but it wasn’t what was going to make me happy.
“My analyst (therapist) said, ‘you can either hijack an emotion and use it as a fighter in a ring for a real fight, or you can use it for a movie character’. The problem is, you can hijack an emotion and use that, and you feel good for a while, but then three days later it comes back, and it starts running your life. In my case, I was very self-critical and self-destructive.
There was a time in my life when I was drinking too much and doing dangerous physical feats. If you asked me to do anything a little bit dangerous I’d have said yes! Had I not have become an actor, I’d have been far more destructive for sure, and that would have ruined my life and my kids’ lives. If you look at fighters and you look at their private lives they’re usually not very stable.
“I’ve made over 70 movies now which is amazing. I remember when I first started, I read an article about John Wayne — he’d made over 100 movies and I’d made one. I read this article and I was going, ‘holy sh*t, I’ve made one and I’ve got 99 left!’ but now I’m creeping up on him.”
Dolph enjoys meditation and advocates a clean eating approach to fueling his body and mind. He has recently developed a work-life balance that he believes can slow the ageing process.
“I’m usually super organized, but lately I’ve been trying to be a little more free-flowing with it all,” he says. “I meditated more or less every day for six years or so, but now I give it a break every once in a while. On a typical meditation day, I get up anytime from say 6am. I used to get up at 4am, but that was like a masochistic approach! I try to meditate for 30-45 minutes depending on how much time I have, check some emails, and then train either be- fore breakfast if I’m doing some cardio, or after breakfast with weights. If I’m filming, sometimes I’ll train after work. Lately I’ve been going for a hike before breakfast or doing my cardio, then trying to chill for a bit on the couch and watch the news. I do some strength training two-
to-three times a week, then go hiking or do boxing two-to-three days a week, so I train about five days in total.
“Food wise, I try to eat three clean meals a day and two snacks. I try to keep my protein intake over 100 grams a day. I don’t eat meat- I eat fish and eggs. I’m pescatarian and I do use supplements and take protein shakes and bars sometimes too.
“There was a time in my life when I was drinking too much and doing dangerous physical feats. If you asked me to do anything a little bit dangerous I’d have said yes!”
“I try not to stress too much because that ages you more than anything. I was very stressed for many years. I’d get up and immediately go for a run, immediately train and then immediately go to work and never took a break, and then after work go out drinking with friends. It was a vicious never-ending cycle and I had to stop because of various injuries and also I knew I couldn’t go on like that. Two months ago, I was prepping for an exhibition fight in Vegas so then I was boxing
two-to-three times a week, but that couldn’t take place because of the COVID pandemic, so now I do about 15 minutes warm-up and then 10 x three-minute rounds once a week, either with the bag or shadow boxing. I then do push-ups and sit-ups for three minutes on, three minutes off . It varies but right now I am doing one day a week or two and then hiking. Since I’m 62 1⁄2, I don’t necessarily want to train every day all the time. I think it’s better for your body to have a day off .”
Having undergone double hip replacement surgery in April 2017, Dolph bounced back determined to maintain his strength and stamina.
“I had some more surgery five weeks ago, so I’m in the build-up phase at the moment,” he says.
“I have a film starting in five weeks with the British actor Scott Adkins, he’s a martial artist I’ve made a couple of films with. It’s
about two guys who’ve become unlikely partners in this kind of heist they’re involved in. I’m directing and because of that I
am working on packing on some muscle.”
Dolph is performing a 3-day split routine ahead of his next movie role.
Day one: Back & Biceps
Day two: Chest,
Shoulders & Triceps
Day three: Legs
“I like doing supersets, especially for triceps,” he says. “I don’t like to lift super heavy. I find if I go too heavy it just makes me tired, I don’t have time to recover and I don’t get any gains from it. When you’re 25 it’s okay, but when you get to a certain age it’s pointless trying to overdo it.
“When I did rocky IV, it was six months of hardcore training. Sly and I had a 10pm curfew, but following that stint, I had twenty years of lights out at 4am partying! Now I’m back to the lights out by ten.”
“I did forty years of martial arts and a lot of my friends have had hip replacements as well. Thousands and thousands of round- house kicks full blast and fighting and sparring take their toll, so I had all that and it certainly crept up on me; that’s when I had my hips replaced. About two years ago I was doing something stupid and one popped back out when I was doing Aquaman. They had to cut the scene and it was the same scarring to fix it, so ever since then I’ve been cutting out the kicks and mostly I do boxing now. It’s obviously mostly upper-body, but you’re moving around so you still get a full-body workout.
I don’t do super heavy squats or deadlifts but I can go heavy enough now that it helps me with age. I just don’t do highs kicks or the splits anymore.
“I abused my body a lot through fighting and action movies and lack of sleep and I burned the candle at both ends, so now I have to be careful and take care of myself. I train less and I look and feel better. When I did Rocky IV, it was six months of hardcore training. Sly and I had a 10pm curfew, but following that stint, I had twenty years of lights out at 4am partying! Now I’m back to the lights out by ten.
“It’s all about balance and self-love. You can go to Italy and see a guy who lives on red wine and pasta and looks great and then see a healthy guy in LA who looks older through stress, so it’s about finding the right balance and happy point for you and trying to be relaxed in your approach.
“I would say that right now I’m the most balanced as an individual I’ve ever been. It’s so strange that I had to get to this age before I figured it out. Some people figure it out immediately and don’t know what they had and then they lose it, others have it and keep it, and for others, like me, it takes a long time to figure it out.
I’m a perfectionist and it took me time to put together all the pieces. My dad put me through trauma that caused me to carry a lot of negative emotion, but I found my happy place in the end.
“I like doing supersets, especially for triceps,” he says. “I don’t like to lift super heavy. I find if I go too heavy it just makes me tired, I don’t have time to recover and I don’t get any gains from it.”
“Most people struggle to slow down and reflect. They’re all running to try to get there quickly, but where are they trying to get to? Where are they going? We know there’s an end, so what are people trying to do? The important thing is to try to learn to enjoy the moment. It sounds like a cliché, but I think you have to be in touch with yourself physically, mentally and emotionally and work on all those factors. It’s a triangle.
“I’m trying to actively go in the other direction and reverse ageing. I think it’s part of my job and if I hit that triangle I can do that. I feel younger as a person than I did five years ago.”
Following his divorce from Anette Qviberg, the mother of his two daughters and subsequent break-up from girlfriend Jenny Sandersson in 2017, Dolph was happy to focus on work and training outside of a relationship, but fell head over heels for Norwegian personal trainer Emma Krokdal, 24, whom he began dating in July 2019 and since became engaged to.
“I certainly didn’t have in mind to meet someone new,” he says. “I was almost the complete opposite! I wanted to be single and have a breather from the pain and the heartache of my last relationship and then Emily came along and I realized that a lot of young people have a really fresh outlook on life. The younger generation are going to take over the world and many 24-year olds are very mature by then. Artists like Jim- my Hendrix and Bob Dylan had a very profound insight into life at a very young age. Back in the day, a lot of young women probably would have had like seven kids, but the world is a different place now. Emma trains me with the weights which is her speciality and I train her with the boxing. We’re a perfect match.
“They say youth is wasted on the young and whilst that’s not true for everybody- like Emma- it is true for me because I matured very late. I feel very lucky that I have someone like Emma at this age, it’s changed my life and I hope I can give her the kind of
help and support that takes a lot of time to discover and amass.”
“I would say that right now I’m the most balanced as an individual I’ve ever been.”
“When it comes to training, Emma teaches me stuff I didn’t know because there is a new approach to fitness now that I wasn’t aware of. When I trained with Stallone back in the 80s it was very basic.”
“It’s been great getting to know Greta, and Dolph has been taking us through some boxing sessions,” says Emma. “We get along great! She’s super sweet and easy to get along with.”
“Dolph and I met at the gym where I worked and we just hit it off right away,” says Emma. “When we train he works really hard and he barely rests. I have to tell him to rest sometimes because he’s always ready to go. Generally speaking, Dolph always wants to do more, but I tell him he shouldn’t do too much because right now he’s in the building phase, so he needs to put on muscle after his surgery.
“When we train he works really hard and he barely rests. he’s always ready to go.”
“When we first met, I was so impressed by how much time he spends on taking care of himself.
He really prioritizes his skincare routine and has never had any Botox or aesthetic injections. He puts lotions on injuries and people often don’t take the time to do that, but you have to put that effort in if you want to stay young. Dolph eats clean and has really learned to relax. We will go to bed at 8pm and watch a movie and get up at six. We enjoy a glass of red wine and pasta if we go out, but we try to eat at home as much as possible because that way we know exactly what we’re putting into our bodies. I cook all his meals to make sure he gets enough protein.
“We went vegan for six months and during that time we definitely ate less protein, but now we’ve gone back to being pescatarian. We wanted to try it out for six months but then we went to Sweden and they have the best chocolate and fish over there, so we figured we had to have something delicious!
When you leave LA it’s very hard to be vegan. It’s a bit limited in some parts of the world. It was a fun challenge and we both had lots of energy but having gone back to eating fi sh we can enjoy a lot more variety and switch it up more. In Mexico City it was impossible to be vegan- they don’t know what you’re talking about and it becomes such an effort”
DOLPH’S TRIANGLE TO SUCCESS
PHYSICALLY: “It’s important be in touch with your body, exercise and treat it well.”
MENTALLY: “I’m lucky because I’m in the creative business so I can work with young people and that makes you feel young.”
EMOTIONALLY: “When you find a good partner, give energy.
Day one: back and biceps
• Lat pulldown
• Decline smith machine row
• Rope pulldown
• Cable bicep curl
• Seated bicep curl
• Dumbbell hammer curl
Perform 4 sets of each exercise
for 10 reps or 3 sets as a pyramid for 8, 10, 12 reps.
Take 45 seconds rest in-between each set.
• 15 minutes warm-up and mobility
• 10 x 3-minute rounds once a week (either with a bag or shadow boxing)
• Push-ups and sit-ups for 3 minutes on, 3 minutes off
• Stretching (hold each stretch for a minimum of 10 seconds
Day two: Chest, Shoulders & Triceps
• Dumbbell chest press Day three: legs • Lying dumbbell fl y
• Upright row
• Front raise
• Side lateral raise
• Seated overhead lateral raise
• Rear delt raise
Perform 4 sets of each exercise
for 10 reps or 3 sets as a pyramid
for 8, 10, 12 reps.
Take 45 seconds rest in-between each set.
Day three: legs
• Dumbbell Romanian deadlift
• Smith machine squat
Perform 4 sets of each exercise for 10 reps or 3 sets as a pyramid for 8, 10, 12 reps.
Take 45 seconds rest in-between each set.
Note: Dolph’s leg workout is limited due to his recent hip surgery.
We wish him well and can’t wait to chat with him again soon!