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Introducing the 5 Pillars of Strength

Strength is for everyone.  Every single person can benefit from strength.  But to get you strong, we first need to make sure you move properly.   A good house always has a solid foundation.

The SVPT way is mastering the strength basics, and building the foundation.  Building a solid foundation of proper movement ensures great mechanics for more complicated lifts, injury prevention, and above all else a more adventurous life!  We build you up from the ground up by getting you do the basics exceptionally well.

So, what are the basic strength movements that we get our clients to master, to help build that foundation?

  • Hip Hinge
  • Push (Vertical and Horizontal)
  • Pull (Vertical and Horizontal)
  • Squat
  • Loaded Carries

Once our clients have mastered these basics, in a unilateral (one arm/one leg) and bilateral  (two arms/two legs) form, we progress them to more complex movements and lifts.

The Hip Hinge

The hip hinge is a hip dominant movement, with minimal knee bend, focusing on the posterior chain strength while teaching to dissociate the hip from the lumbar spine.   We feel it’s the most important of all the movements because when mastered it can create a more expansive exercise tool box.  Every day we bend over to lift things, so learning to hinge your hips properly, will save you from injury and allow you to do more activities, safely.

Hip Hinge Progressions

  • Dowel Hip Hinge
  • Kettlebell Deadlift (1 or 2 Kettlebells)
    1. Kettlebell Swings
  • Trap Bar Deadlift
  • Barbell Deadlift


*We also progress to single leg deadlifts/hinges because it’s important to be able to move through each hip separately.

What can mastering the hip hinge do for you?

  • Teach you to bend over properly without using your back
  • Strengthen the glutes and hamstrings that become weak from sitting too much

The Push

Pushing movements focus on the muscles on the front of the upper body. Learning pushing movements will help with learning scapular control and stability (shoulder girdle). When you have great shoulder stability and strength, you can progress to more complicated lifts and prevent injury. Pushing movements come in two forms – vertical and horizontal.

The most popular and basic of all pushing movements is the push-up. Other more popular pushing movements include shoulder press and bench press. We build clients up by starting clients with an elevated push up to teach shoulder and core control, as well as the landmine for a controlled range of motion for shoulder pressing.

To add more challenge, we eventually progress a client to using kettlebells because there is more demand for stability and they are just fun!

Pushing Options (Based on Needs from Assessment)

  1. Torso Elevated Push Up (Horizontal)
  2. Dumbbell Bench Press (Horizontal)
  3. Landmine Shoulder Press (Vertical)
    1. Standing
    2. Tall Kneeling
    3. Half Kneeling
  4. Bottoms Up Kettlebell Press (Vertical)
    1. Standing
    2. Half Kneeling
    3. Tall Kneeling

We also progress to single arm variations, based on ability.

Be sure to try to include both a vertical and horizontal pushing movement in your training program.

The Pull

Pulling movements work the muscles in your back, which are the muscles that help create better posture.  Working on computers, texting, driving and excessive sitting create weak back muscles that can contribute to neck and back pain.

Poor posture is one of the issues we see in almost every client, and we make sure that we put a focus on pulling movements to help strengthen the muscles of the back that can pull you into better posture.

The pulling muscles also work with the pushing muscles to help create an all-around stronger, stable and injury free upper body.  Pulling movements are also important because the muscles in the back of our body are the stabilizers for bigger lifts, such as deadlifts.

Like the pushing movements, pulling can be done vertically and horizontally.  The most well-known vertical pull is a chin up, or pull up, and the most common horizontal pulling movement is the row.

Pulling Options (Based on Needs from Assessment)

  1. TRX Pull Up or Row (Horizontal)
  2. Dumbbell Chest Supported Row (Horizontal)
  3. Dumbbell or Kettlebell Unsupported Row (Horizontal)
  4. Assisted Pull Ups or Chin Ups (Vertical)
  5. Cable or Strength Band Pulldowns (Vertical)
    1. Standing
    2. Half Kneeling
    3. Tall Kneeling

We also progress to single arm variations, based on ability.

Be sure to try to include both a vertical and horizontal pulling movement in your training program.

The Squat

Squats are a hip, knee, and ankle dominated action that happens more than any other movement in everyday life.  When done properly, squats improve knee stability and strengthen connective tissue.  While its primary focus is leg strength, squats can be a whole-body exercise when done correctly – leg and hip strength, core strength and depending on the squat variation, upper body strength and stability.

Squats are also one of exercises that is frequently performed incorrectly.  Before squatting with weight, we always clean up the client’s the squat pattern with correctives such as hip, ankle and thoracic spine mobility, and core strength and stability.

Next to bending over, like in the hip hinge, we squat every single day without really realizing it.  A good squat can give you an easier life!

Squat Options and Progressions (Based on Needs from Assessment)

  • Bodyweight Squats
  • Goblet Squats
  • Kettlebell Front Squats
  • Barbell Squats (Front and Back)
  • Zercher Squats

Single Leg Options

  • Bodyweight Split Squats
  • Goblet Split Squats
  • Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats
  • Single Leg Squats to Bench

It’s important to train squats unilaterally (single leg) because life doesn’t always happen on two legs. Training on one leg helps to even out any strength imbalances, as well as works stabilizing muscles and balance. Most people tend to use one side of their body more than the other in everyday life and this bias can be intensified if you only train on two legs.

The Loaded Carry

A loaded carry is essentially a loaded walking plank – all the core that you can imagine using in everyday life! Loaded carries are important because every day we walk while carrying things – groceries, kids, suitcases, etc. The act of carrying heavy things over a distance is the most functional and fundamental movement. Like all of our other pillars, this movement is for ALL fitness levels and ages because of the transfer to everyday life.

It teaches how to create tension and brace your core for other more demanding compound lifting. Loaded carries are great for training the grip, building muscle, work capacity, core strength, coordination, and even improving function of the shoulder girdle. They really do offer something for everyone!

Loaded Carry Options (Based on Needs from Assessment)

  • Farmer’s Walk (Dumbbells or Kettlebells or Trap Bar)
  • Suitcase Carry (Dumbbells or Kettlebells)
  • Goblet Carry (Dumbbell or Kettlebell)
  • Sandbag Front Carry
  • Kettlebell Racked Carry
  • Overhead Kettlebell Carry

We progress carries based on the client’s ability, but many end up progressing to fun carry variations that include off-set weight (2 different weights in each hand), barbell carries with banded kettlebells, carries with bands for extra instability, and so much more.

5 Pillars of Strength

Strength is for everyone.

A good house always has a solid foundation.  We believe in building a solid foundation by mastering five strength movements.  By mastering these basics, we lay the foundation for more complicated lifts, injury prevention and above all else, LIFE!  Because isn’t fitness about creating a more adventurous life?

Over the last five weeks we have shared with you the principles of how we build a client up, and build the foundation.  Each training session with our clients always includes all or most of the 5 Pillars, in some form or variation:

  • Hip Hinge
  • Pushing
  • Pulling
  • Squat
  • Loaded Carry

Let us help you learn to build your house.  Book your FREE assessment today!