In the video “How I Trained Mackenzie Davis for Terminator: Dark Fate,” celebrity trainer Magnus Ligbach takes you on a thrilling journey into the transformation of Mackenzie Davis into the super soldier Grace. Ligbach, with over 20 years of experience as a trainer and nutritionist, reveals the challenges and strategies he employed to train Davis for this iconic role. From overseeing training and nutrition remotely to working with a team on location, Ligbach ensures that Davis is in peak physical condition and ready to tackle the demands of the film. With a comprehensive five-day split program and a focus on high intensity interval training and core exercises, Ligbach and his team leave no stone unturned in preparing Davis for her role as Grace. Check out the Magnus Method training program app for more fitness inspiration.

Challenges of Training Remote

Filming in different locations

Training someone remotely can be challenging, especially when they are filming in different locations. In the case of Mackenzie Davis, she was filming another movie in Northern Europe while I was somewhere else in the world working on a different project. This meant that we couldn’t be physically present during the training sessions, which required a different approach to ensure effective training.

Working with trainers remotely

When training someone remotely, it becomes crucial to have a strong communication system in place. I had to oversee Mackenzie’s training program and give instructions without physically being there. To address this challenge, I relied on technology to stay connected with Mackenzie and her trainer. We would have regular video calls to check-in, discuss progress, and make adjustments to the training program if needed.

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Overseeing training and nutrition remotely

Another challenge of remote training is overseeing both the training and nutrition aspects remotely. I couldn’t be there in person to ensure that Mackenzie was following the program and eating the right foods. To overcome this, I had a trainer on location to execute the workouts and a private chef to ensure that Mackenzie received the proper nutrition. They would send pictures of her food daily, allowing me to ensure that everything was in line with the plan.

Training during Filming Another Movie

Bringing in a trainer to work with Mackenzie

To overcome the challenge of Mackenzie filming another movie, we brought in a trainer, Justin Ryan, to work with her on location. Justin was responsible for executing the workouts we had planned and keeping me updated on Mackenzie’s progress. This allowed us to continue her training even while she was busy with filming.

Overseeing training and nutrition remotely

I remained actively involved in overseeing Mackenzie’s training and nutrition even during the time she was filming another movie. While I couldn’t be physically present, I would sync with Justin every day to ensure that Mackenzie was following the program properly and making progress towards her goals. This remote oversight was crucial in maintaining the continuity of her training.

Training in Los Angeles

Handing off training to a new trainer

Once Mackenzie’s other film was finished, she flew to Los Angeles where I handed off her training to my trainer, Josephine Holmberg. Josephine seamlessly took over the training program and ensured that Mackenzie continued to make progress. This transition was smooth because of the clear communication and documentation of the training program.

Five-day split program

In Los Angeles, Mackenzie followed a five-day split program designed to target different muscle groups throughout the week. This program was divided into a three-day split and a two-day split. The first three days focused on lower body, chest, and back, and arms and outside shoulders, respectively. The following two days were dedicated to lower body and the entire upper body. This comprehensive split allowed Mackenzie to work on her entire physique and ensure balanced muscular development.

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Incorporating high-intensity interval training and core exercises

In addition to the split program, Mackenzie also incorporated high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and core exercises into her routine. HIIT is a great way to boost cardiovascular fitness and burn calories in a shorter amount of time. It involves alternating periods of intense exercise with short recovery periods. Core exercises, on the other hand, focus on strengthening the muscles in the abdomen, back, and pelvis, which provide stability and support during movement.

Training Program Details

Overview of the five-day split program

The five-day split program followed by Mackenzie consisted of specific workouts for each day of the week. The program targeted different muscle groups on different days to ensure optimal muscle growth and recovery. Each training session was carefully planned to provide a balanced and effective workout routine.

Sample exercises for each day

To give you a glimpse of Mackenzie’s training program, here are some sample exercises for each day of the five-day split program:

Day 1: Lower Body

  • Exercise 1: Squats – 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise 2: Romanian Deadlifts – 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise 3: Walking Lunges – 3 sets of 12 reps

Day 2: Chest and Back

  • Exercise 1: Bench Press – 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise 2: Bent-Over Rows – 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise 3: Incline Dumbbell Press – 3 sets of 12 reps

Day 3: Arms and Outside Shoulders

  • Exercise 1: Bicep Curls – 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise 2: Tricep Dips – 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise 3: Lateral Raises – 3 sets of 12 reps

Day 4: Lower Body

  • Exercise 1: Deadlifts – 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise 2: Bulgarian Split Squats – 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise 3: Leg Press – 3 sets of 12 reps

Day 5: Entire Upper Body

  • Exercise 1: Push-ups – 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise 2: Pull-ups – 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise 3: Shoulder Press – 3 sets of 12 reps
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Exercise 1: Treadmill Warm-Up

To start each workout, Mackenzie would spend five minutes on the treadmill for a warm-up. This helped to increase her heart rate, warm up her muscles, and prepare her body for the exercises that were to follow. The warm-up also provided an opportunity to mentally prepare for the training session ahead.

Exercise 2: Deadmill Sprints

One of the high-intensity exercises included in Mackenzie’s training program was deadmill sprints. This exercise involved sprinting on the treadmill without turning on the motor. The aim was to push herself to the limit and maintain high intensity for 60 seconds, followed by a 60-second rest period. This exercise helped to improve her cardiovascular fitness and burn calories efficiently.

Exercise 3: Lat Pull Down

To target the muscles in her back, Mackenzie performed lat pull downs. This exercise focused on the latissimus dorsi muscle, which is responsible for pulling movements. She would do three sets of 15 reps, ensuring proper form and a controlled movement throughout.

Exercise 4: Superset – Alternative Chest Press on Ball and Single Arm Dumbbell Row

Mackenzie would perform a superset of alternative chest press on a stability ball and single-arm dumbbell rows. This superset targeted her chest and back muscles simultaneously, providing a challenging workout. She would perform three rounds of 10 reps of the chest press on the ball and 15 reps of the single-arm dumbbell row, alternating between the two exercises without rest.

Exercise 5: Superset – Chest Fly and Reverse Fly

Another superset included in Mackenzie’s training program was the chest fly and reverse fly. This superset targeted the muscles in her chest and back. She would perform three rounds of 12 reps of the chest fly, followed by a quick transition into the reverse fly. This superset helped to improve upper body strength and posture.


Mackenzie Davis’s transformation for Terminator: Dark Fate is a testament to her dedication, hard work, and the expertise of the trainers and nutritionists involved. The challenges of training remote were overcome through effective communication and collaboration. The five-day split program, incorporating high-intensity interval training and core exercises, played a vital role in Mackenzie’s physical transformation. Overall, the success of Mackenzie’s transformation is a result of a comprehensive training program, individualized attention, and a supportive team.

The training program used for Mackenzie Davis is now available in the Magnus Method app, offering daily fitness advice and inspiration for anyone looking to achieve their fitness goals. With dedication and the right guidance, anyone can transform their body and become the strongest and healthiest version of themselves.