‘Heels’ star Alexander Ludwig Had to ‘Ace’ His Diet to Get Wrestling Ready


Alexander Ludwig has never been afraid of a challenge. The former competitive freestyle skier and skydiving enthusiast is all about finding that next hit of adrenaline and fortunately for him, the chance to play professional wrestler “Ace Spade” in the STARZ hit show, “Heels” provides an opportunity to combine his love of acting with a seemingly innate desire to push his physical boundaries.

In order to appear convincing as a legitimate grappler on-screen, Ludwig gained around ten pounds of muscle to step between the ropes and, in an exclusive interview with M&F, ahead of “Heels” Season 2 (premiering July 28), we found out how the 31-year-old actor and musician manages to bulk-up while still maintaining a lean physique. We also learned why Ludwig has a ton of respect for all the professional wrestlers who risk their bodies for our viewing pleasure.

“The key, honestly; it does come down to one word, that’s ‘eating,’” says Ludwig of his process of gaining mass while staying ripped. “I’ve done a lot of my own research, and I’ve been lucky enough to work with a lot of what people would say are the highest qualified trainers, or whatever, and they are really good at what they do, but I realized that everybody has to find what works for them.” For Ludwig, there was a lot of trial and error before he found a way to keep his eating in balance with his training. “I used to work out like a crazy person,” he shares. “But then by the end of the night, I was so hungry.”

The 6’2,” star from Vancouver, British Columbia, was rationalizing that it was OK to over-eat because of the time he’d spent that day training in the gym. But the result was that Ludwig became totally off balance with his nutrition. “We always think we burn more calories than we do,” he observes, noting that without tracking his fuel in versus fuel out ratio, his preparation was failing to get the desired results. In a desperate effort to torch fat, Ludwig says he was attempting to run 5 miles each day, but although he loves a good run, this was unsustainable for him. Finally, the penny dropped. “For me, it’s finding that balance between my caloric intake and then (the energy burned via) my weightlifting,” he says. “I really think balance is the answer.”

Alexander Ludwig has learned to track his calories to control his body composition

Bulking up to play “Ace Spade,” the younger brother of Stephen Amell’s “Jack Spade” in “Heels” was far from a new experience for Ludwig, who says that he’s never turned to HGH or testosterone replacement therapy and has earned his lumps and bumps by eating right and heavy training. “If you wanna get bigger you have to eat more. If you wanna get smaller you have to eat less, period. Then, if you wanna get bigger and look lean, you have to eat more, work out, and eat clean food,” he says. “You can’t take in, you know, a bunch of McDonald’s burgers and expect to look great — because you’re gonna put on weight but it’s not going to be the good kind of weight.”

One snack that does work wonders for the actor whether bulking or maintaining his calories is to choose protein bars such as Rx bars, since they don’t contain added sugar and rely on natural ingredients such as fruits and nuts. Ludwig’s refrigerator regularly contains liquid egg whites too, since they can be turned into a low calorie, high protein omelet at any time. As a new father, convenience is vital for staying on course with any fitness regime.

Ludwig tells M&F that he has learned better habits around eating, and he’s also turned to the MyFitnessPal app so that he can track that all-important caloric and macronutrient intake. Joking that he should be being paid to promote the app, because of his enthusiasm and reliance on it, the star says that when he’s not bulking up for a role, he likes to maintain a daily target of 2,270 calories. Living with the extra muscle proves to be a heavy weight to bear for the former competitive skier however, and following the filming of “Heels” he is now happy to be returning to his preferred base weight of 210 pounds. But when required, the talented actor goes all-in to hit his target physique. “About 225 pounds is where I was at for Bad Boys,” says Ludwig of his role as “Dorn” in the 2020 movie “Bad Boys for Life.” From 2014-2020, Ludwig also starred in “Vikings” and was required to bulk-up to play the Viking king “Björn Ironside.”

Due to the physical agility required to play a professional wrestler in “Heels”, the actor weighs-in for this role at 217-220 pounds. Of course, for many seasoned M&F readers, the principles of eating more, eating clean, and hitting the gym to grow lean size will be more than familiar, as will the barrier that threatens to derail all of our progress. “The hardest thing is the consistency of it,” Ludwig acknowledges. Fortunately, he feels that sticking with a gym routine is non-negotiable for him. “Going to the gym is just a bonus because you look more toned, and then it’s good for your health,” says the star. And that’s just as well, because “show muscles” won’t get you too far in the quest to hang onscreen like a professional wrestler can. In “Heels” Season 2, Ludwig is being relied upon more than ever to undertake complex choreography in the ring.

“I think they’re insane,” says Ludwig of those that run the ropes on a regular basis. “But I respect the s**t out of them. … It is nuts. It’s the same schedule as a touring musician, except that instead of playing a show you are getting hit over the head with a guitar. It’s like, these guys are insane but I love them, they’re my family and I really respect wrestling.” That respect is clear to see from the serious commitment that Ludwig has shown to portraying one. He’s thrown himself head first into the fight scenes, and can even be seen executing a backflip off of the top turnbuckle. The star is only swapped out for a stunt-double when producers decide that a move is too risky and could disrupt filming should an injury occur. “So much of my physique in season one wasn’t even just, like, to look good in tights,” shares Ludwig. “It was really just because I had to get my body, especially my back, to a place where I could withstand the pressure, because you can’t fake a lot of this stuff.”
Alexander Ludwig returns for more thrills and spills in “Heels” Season 2, premiering July 28 on STARZ.



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