Brie Larson is making the jump from Oscar-winning actress to the most powerful superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But transforming into an all-powerful superhero like Captain Marvel—who can shoot energy beams from her hands and arms, and harness the power of flight and super strength—doesn’t just happen overnight.
That’s why Larson teamed up with trainer Jason Walsh to prepare for the action-heavy film. Walsh, who has worked with numerous Hollywood stars over the years—like John Krasinski, Bradley Cooper, Emily Blunt, Jessica Biel, Matt Damon, and Anne Hathaway—put together a comprehensive program for Larson to give her the physicality she needed to play Carol Danvers. It also built the necessary endurance and mental fortitude to handle stunts… and everything else production threw at her.
“There was a lot of work to do at the start,” Walsh told Men’s Journal. “I’m always completely up front and honest about what we need to do and achieve, and what it’ll take to do it. When you have someone 100 percent committed, and with the level of dedication that Brie has, it’s a great situation and a combination for success.”
When Larson first started working with Walsh, she joked about how she “wished she could do a pullup”. Walsh took that idea to heart.
“When she got back from Avengers, it was game on,” Walsh says. “We got deep into heavy progression, doing two-a-days, four days a week, sometimes five days a week unless Brie was feeling destroyed. She did the work—nutrition, recovery, sleep—everything required of her. The whole process took nine months of training, and we focused in on a number of key moves, including hip thrusts, which was a staple of our workouts.”
By the end of their training, Larson was able to bang out full sets of pullups with ease, and push Walsh’s 5,000-pound jeep.
“There was a lot of talk about the Jeep workout—and it was superhuman in a way—but that’s not something we normally did,” Walsh says. “What we tried to establish in the training was also part of character building: What’s the psychology of a character who’s basically invincible? I wanted to get as close to that as possible. Having that physical strength helped her become the character.”
A typical workout included soft tissue work and foam rolling to start so she could stimulate her muscles and get circulation around her body going.
“We’d go from mobility into activation work, which we considered a warmup, then into the primary strength exercises,” Walsh says. “That could be a squat aspect, bilateral exercises, unilateral moves, hip-hinge work, and a lot of hip thrusting and posterior chain work to fire up and support the spine. Then we’d do circuits of secondary exercises—basically everything other than those primary moves—and make sure her joints were supported and muscles were activated throughout the workout.”
Obviously all that training required a proper amount of fuel and recovery, too. Larson was “ravenous with her nutrition,” Walsh says.
Now, Larson is ready to take flight as Carol Danvers in Captain Marvel. As part of his work with Larson, Walsh has partnered with Disney and the Playbook App to put together a free two-week training program that fans can use to train like Larson did for the film.
Captain Marvel hits theaters Friday, March 8, 2019