If you have watched the movie Captain Marvel, you might have noticed that Carol Danvers has a rougher fighting style than other women in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
That was intentional, says fight coordinator and assistant stunt coordinator Walter Garcia.
It’s a trend that film expert and Blerd City Con founder Clairesa Clay has noticed in recent years, with female action heroes appearing “much more valued and on par with men”.
“Superhero films are going in a direction of teaching younger women not to be afraid to be as strong as a man.
“You can still be feminine, you can still be a girl, but that doesn’t mean you cower to men or you’re not on equal footing.”
To help continue that trend with powerful punches and stunts, actress Brie 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 (4.5kg) 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, 400lb (18kg) 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 50lb (23kg), 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 60lb (27kg) dumbbells in each hand, or 120lb (54kg) 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°.
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 225lb (102kg) deadlift, which is insane,” Walsh said.
The lines between actress and real-life superhero blurred when Larson achieved her ultimate goal: pushing a 5,000lb (2,268kg) jeep by herself.
“She got so strong pushing and pulling the sled 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.”
Getting to that point started with a drill that anyone can practice from home.
Beginner: Standing arm’s length away from a wall, extend your arms and push into the wall as you run in place.
Advanced: If you have access to a weighted “sled” at your local gym, practice pushing it along an open floor, keeping your back flat.
Superhero: This is only for the strongest beings in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – Larson was able to push a Jeep for 60 seconds. – Los Angeles Times/Tribune News Service