The Pillars of Strength

Start seeing results with effective personal training

By Conrad Larsen, WAC Personal Trainer

Are you working hard in the gym but failing to see results? Before you throw in the towel, consider revamping your approach by incorporating what I call the Pillars of Strength protocol. This recipe for workout success consists of classic weight room exercises, among them squats, dead lifts, bench presses, overhead presses, rows, and pull-ups.

Incorporating these specific compound exercises will help you overhaul your fitness and achieve functional movement patterns, postural stability, muscular strength, bone density, and weight loss. As you move through the Pillars of Strength, we will individualize the exercise selection based on your personal needs, focus on proper lifting form, and challenge you with progressive overload tailored to your ability and potential. The protocol can be undertaken as part of individual or group training.

The pillars provide a super-charged shock to the body’s metabolic system, rapidly building lean muscle tissue and accelerating calorie burn. This is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Individuals respond differently to various intensities, exercise order, training load, repetitions, volume, and rest periods. Based on what you want to achieve, a specialized plan developed specifically for you can be scientifically designed to help you reach your goals.

Contrary to what many people think, exercise order matters tremendously in a workout. Power lifts should be performed first so your body executes these dynamic movements with the most energy available. This also allows you to safely complete compound lifts with excellent form. Next come other non-power core moves, followed by auxiliary exercises.

To ensure you’re lifting under the correct biomechanical workload, trainers often use biomarkers, such as rate of perceived exertion, where you describe how fatigued you feel on a scale of one to ten. This allows your trainer to check in with you regularly and make sure you remain in the correct intensity range to acquire your desired fitness adaptation, whether that’s muscular endurance, hypertrophy (i.e., muscle growth), or maximum strength.

Been skipping the gym lately? No problem! Starting in a deconditioned state means you’ll get to begin low and go slow with an eight-week general preparatory period to let your body gradually adjust to weight training. As your body creates new neuromuscular adaptations, I guarantee you’ll start to see and feel a difference within the first few weeks. So let’s get started! 

—Learn more about WAC personal training at Reach trainer Conrad Larsen at

As published in the July/August 2019 issue of WAC Magazine.

—Posted July 3, 2019

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