Brie Larson was hanging upside down, about to attempt one of her most challenging “Captain Marvel” stunts for the first time on set.
As planned, she perfectly executed the stunt fall. She dropped four feet, flipped 180 degrees, and landed on her hands and feet.
Before the Oscar winner was cast as one of the most powerful heroes in the Marvel Universe, Larson was “never particularly active,” she admitted. Despite not being able to do a push-up or pull-up at the start of her training, Larson achieved her goal of performing most of her own stunts.
So how did Larson gain superhero strength — and how can you?
• Set an appropriate goal: Larson’s initial inspiration was not a fellow superhero actor, but Emily Blunt in “Edge of Tomorrow.” She tracked down Blunt’s trainer, Jason Walsh.
His first piece of advice? Don’t get caught up in achieving a certain look. Focus on building your strength, and the aesthetics will come later.
• Make a timeline (don’t rush it!): Walsh often gets requests from studios to train actors “to be in top shape” with just a few weeks’ notice. Larson trained over nine months.
• Try moves that Larson used: Larson began with daily 90-minute workouts for the first six months, before ramping up to twice-daily two-hour workouts. She started with these exercises:
Hip thrusts: Lie on the floor, knees up, feet flat. Press the back of your arms into the ground, engage your glutes, and lift your hips toward the ceiling 15 to 25 times. Larson worked her way up to weighted, 400-pound hip thrusts, Walsh said.
Push-ups: If you can’t do a push-up, don’t fret. Walsh helped Larson do her first one by starting with a pad on the floor beneath her chest. (You can also use a folded towel). By the end, Larson could do push-ups with 50-pound chains on her back.
Bulgarian split squat: Take a knee, with your left knee touching the ground and your right leg in a deep forward lunge. Raise yourself up, and then lower yourself back down to the starting position, maintaining control, then switch sides. Larson eventually executed these with 60-pound dumbbells in each hand.
Pull-ups: Jump to the top of the pull-up bar and raise your knees. Lower yourself with control and repeat. Larson went from not being able to complete one pull-up to doing six consecutive ones.
Bonus Drill: The lines between actress and superhero blurred when Larson achieved her ultimate goal: pushing a 5,000-pound Jeep.
“She got so strong that we wanted to do something that was radical, and I knew she’d be safe doing it,” Walsh noted. “It’s just something she aspired to try.”
• Celebrate how far you’ve come: Looking back at her intense training, Larson reflected, “Using my body as a tool that can do incredible things was the beginning of unlocking myself and unlocking who Captain Marvel is as well.”
— Christina Schoellkopf, Los Angeles Times