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How to do the pull-ups that helped transform Brie Larson into Captain Marvel


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Photo: Instagram/@brielarson
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Morphing into a superhero is hard work—just ask women like Charlize Theron and Gal Gadot, who have undergone rigorous training regimens to become the action stars you see on-screen. And now that Brie Larson is preparing to become Captain Marvel (and the first female to lead a Marvel movie, no less), she’s started to share glimpses of the intense workouts designed to transform her.

Larson’s recent Instagram video snippets of the exercises she’s been doing in the past nine months of training feature one jaw-dropping move in particular: seemingly effortless pull-ups in quick succession.

9 months of training really does some stuff to your body 😂😂😂 #mondaymotivation

A post shared by Brie (@brielarson) on

Seeing her serious muscle definition and raw strength even has me reconsidering my middle-school choice to forever give up on completing a pull-up. (Seriously, Larson’s intensity is inspiring.) So I talked with Heather Marr, a personal trainer and co-founder of New York–based nutrition and workout program Liftologie, who shared four ways to ease yourself into the pull-up.

Check out four trainer-approved tips for completing a pull-up (or a few!).

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1. Use an assisted pull-up machine

This, Marr notes, allows you to offset some of your body weight with machine. “As you get stronger, you will be able to perform your repetitions with more and more of your body weight until you are performing pull-ups on your own.”

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2. Resistance bands are your friends

Take a note from Shay Mitchell‘s fitness book with this resistance-band hack—especially if you’re on the road, often. Marr notes that the portable bands are an inexpensive way to help workout warriors at different strength levels, as the tool is available in different levels of elasticity. “Simply attach the band to the bar you are using overhead and then place your foot or knee in the bottom of the band that is hanging below,” she says.

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3. Try the opposite route with negative pull-ups

When you’re “standing under your bar, jump up and grab the handles and pull yourself up using the momentum from your jump. Here you will be at the top portion of your pull-up position. Slowly lower yourself until your arms are fully extended,” Marr instructs.

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4. Tap your gym buddy for an assist

After you’ve recruited your pull-up assistant (here’s how to build a whole crew of workout-warrior buddies, or you could just make friends at the gym), “get in your starting position with your hands on the pull-up bar, and bend at your knees,” Marr says. Your partner should then grab your feet or legs, and “as you breathe out and pull yourself up toward the bar, your partner helps to lift you and offset some of your body weight.” 

Although J.Lo isn’t (officially) a superhero, she uses Spider-Man push-ups and a two-step plank variation to get into superhuman shape. 

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