Brie Larson is thriving at 32 and has the body of a (literal) superhero. “What am I dancing to? Wrong answers only,” the Captain Marvel actress captioned an Instagram photo of herself looking fabulous in a bathing suit and cut-out crop top. How does she stay so fit? Read on to see 7 ways Larson stays in shape and the photos that prove they work—and to get beach-ready yourself, don’t miss these essential 30 Best-Ever Celebrity Bathing Suit Photos!
Larson isn’t afraid of lifting weights, and credits it with not only getting her into shape but with connecting to her Captain Marvel character. “A huge part of [Captain Marvel] is her strength,” Larson told Entertainment Tonight. “I knew if I could go through that experience, I would get closer to her and I’d understand [her].” “We’re very familiar with the benefits of aerobic exercise like running, cycling or walking, but we haven’t focused on lifting and strength exercise. They’re seen on either ends of the spectrum – one makes you strong and muscular and one helps you live longer but that’s not true. The reality is the two, in terms of health benefits, overlap more than they differ,” says Dr. Stuart Phillips, a McMaster University professor in kinesiology and Canada Research Chair in skeletal muscle health.
Larson understands a balanced diet means not restricting or eliminating entire food groups, and would regularly eat almond butter and all-fruit jam or preserves for breakfast while filming Room. “The most recent science has shown that a little bit of fat and a little bit of simple sugar will actually increase intensity rate while you train early in the morning … and allow you to still continue to train and burn fat,” says Larson’s nutritionist Dr. Philip Goglia. “That really does start your engine for you.”
Larson challenged her fitness levels and pushed her body beyond what she thought was possible while training for Captain Marvel. “I affectionately called myself ‘an introvert with asthma’ before I got to play Carol Danvers and I started training first out of sheer panic, because I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, Marvel doesn’t know that I don’t even know how to walk up a hill without being out of breath.’ So, I started this journey thinking I’ll get strong and I had no idea. I went far beyond what I ever believed was possible for my body,” she told Insider. “Being able to hip thrust 400 pounds, deadlift 200 pounds, push my trainer’s Jeep, I mean, it’s an incredible experience to realize what’s inside of you is well beyond what you knew was possible.”
Larson makes her workouts look effortless on Instagram—but it wasn’t always that way. “They don’t realize that we actually started with all of these really fundamental, easy moves before we got to that point, and that’s one of the reasons why we built so much resiliency and you were able to not get injured,” says her physical therapist, Jason Walsh.
Larson typically plays roles that are powerful but not always glamorous. “I mean, a lot of the jobs that I’ve done have been characters that don’t have makeup on,” Larson told Allure. “And that felt incredibly empowering to me. I remember someone asking me once, ‘How did they do your acne for Room? It looked so real.’ And I was like, ‘Oh no, those were just my zits.’ That was part of my growth and expression, saying, ‘This is who I am and this is what I look like.'”
“I started scuba diving, and that became a whole new revelation as to how I get in and out of characters,” Larson told Allure. “You can’t just dive into the ocean. You have to have a plan. You have to understand the process of going down and then the process of coming back up, and you have to allow air for that.” “Scuba diving allows one to target specific muscle groups particularly in the legs, glutes, core and back while maneuvering through a medium that is hundreds of times more dense than air,” says Theresa Kaplan, director of communications for the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). “To move efficiently through the water, a diver learns to streamline their body—engaging core, glute and back muscles—and kick from the hip, as opposed to from the knee to glide through the water. Let’s also not forget the out-of-water benefits of diving. Lifting scuba tanks, weights and other dive equipment can be comparable to many weight lifting exercises.”
Larson is a big fan of using oils as part of her beauty regimen. “To wash my face, I might use coconut or olive oil,” she says. “When I used to travel and do pressers and things and I didn’t want to bring tons of products, I would just ask the hotel for olive oil. Oil my face, hot towel. [I found out about cosmetics brand] Decorté over a year ago when they just sent products and asked me to try them out. I really liked them, and it seemed that we both liked each other, and so they asked me to come on board and be this ‘brand muse,’ which is surreal for me. I just never thought that I would be the face of a beauty brand.”
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more