Warner Bros. Pictures / TNS
Brie Larson was hanging upside down and suspended by her legs when she was about to attempt one of her most challenging “Captain Marvel” stunts for the first time on set.
“I remember building up to this moment, if we were going to allow her to do it — if she was going to have enough strength and confidence to get past it,” Walter Garcia, the fight coordinator and assistant stunt coordinator said.
Yet as planned, Larson perfectly executed the stunt fall. She dropped four feet, flipped 180 degrees, and landed on her hands and feet.
“It was a special moment for not only the team to see her do it, but for her to build herself up to get to that point,” Garcia said. “Because months before that, she would never consider doing anything like that.”
It’s true. 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 at the start of her training, Larson achieved her goal of performing most of her own stunts for one of the most anticipated movies of the year, out this Friday.
Here’s a guide to train like a Kree warrior hero based on the star’s nine-month training plan.
Warning: Use caution before trying any of these advanced moves at home.
Set an appropriate goal
Larson’s initial inspiration was not a fellow superhero actor, but Emily Blunt in Warner Bros.’ “Edge of Tomorrow.” She actually tracked down Blunt’s trainer, Jason Walsh, and asked him to help her.
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, said Walsh.
Don’t rush it
Walsh, who trained Emma Stone for “La La Land,” Alison Brie for “GLOW” and Bradley Cooper for “American Sniper,” turns down more work than he takes on due to time-frame issues. He often gets requests from studios to train actors “to be in top shape” with just a few weeks’ notice.
It took Larson nine months to do it safely, which gives you an idea of how long it would take a mere mortal to get into truly elite shape.
So ask yourself: How much time do I have? Is my goal achievable with what I’m trying to acquire?
Try 5 moves Larson used
If you have watched one of the “Captain Marvel” trailers, you might have noticed that Carol Danvers has a rougher fighting style than other women in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That was intentional, says Garcia.
To help continue that trend of more powerful punches and stunts, 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:
1. Hip thrusts
Beginner: Lie on the floor, knees up, feet flat, as if you’re about to do an old-school sit up. Instead, press the back of your arms into the ground, engage your glutes, and lift your hips toward the ceiling 15 to 25 times. Continue until you feel the burn in your butt.
Advanced: Hold a 10-pound weight above your hips as you lift and lower. Keep your movements slow and controlled and add more weight as needed.
Superhero: Larson worked her way up to weighted, 400-pound hip thrusts, Walsh said.
2. Push-up drills
Beginner: 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).
Start in a plank position with your arms extended. Keeping your back and waist flat, slowly lower your body. Once your chest touches the pad, drop your knees. Then perform the reverse, extending your arms, straightening your legs and returning to the position in which you started.
Next, hover in a plank position with your arms bent for 30 seconds.
Advanced: Add weight to your back. Increase as needed.
Superhero: By the end of her training, Larson could do push-ups with 50-pound, weighted chains on her back.
3. Bulgarian split squat
Beginner: 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 your control. Keep your back straight and your knee from moving beyond your ankle, then switch sides. An alternative starting position is resting your left foot on a step stool or bench behind you for an extra extension.
Advanced: Hold weights as you do it. Once that’s comfortable, do one and a half reps, by coming all the way down, halfway up, back down and then stand up. You can also do these across an open floor with a barbell above your head, like Larson did at times.
Superhero: Marvel’s frontwoman eventually executed these with 60-pound dumbbells in each hand, or 120 pounds total.
4. Pull-Up Drills
Since upper-body strength was critical for Larson’s stunts, like rope swings, pull-up drills were a big part of her workouts.
Beginner: With the help of a partner or by yourself, jump to the top of the pull-up bar and raise your knees. Lower yourself with control and repeat.
Advanced: Work on the weaker joint angles by jumping to the top and lowering yourself until your arms are at about 90-degrees. Hold this for 10-15 seconds. Then drop down.
Once you’re ready for full pull-ups, start with a chin-up grip, with palms facing in, since that tends to be easier. Work your way to an over-hang grip, with your palms facing out. Once you master the single pull-up, do three in a row.
Superhero: Larson went from not being able to complete one pull-up to doing six consecutive ones.
5. Landmine dead lift
Beginner: Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell that’s light enough to allow you to maintain proper form. Start by engaging your glutes, bend at the waist, maintain a flat back, and keep the weights close to your lower body. Keep the glutes engaged as you stand up, bringing your hips forward to return to the starting position. That’s one rep.
Advanced: Stagger your legs to target each side, increasing the weight when you’re ready.
Superhero: “She got to a 225-pound deadlift, which is insane,” Walsh said.