Do the McGill Big 3 Work?

Jun 17, 2024

The McGill Big 3 are a set of exercises I talk about a lot. But they are often misunderstood. Sometimes what I see people using them for is a little different to what I believe they should be used for.

 Let me explain...

What are the McGill Big 3?

I run through these with a demo in the video above. But in summary: 

  1. Arguably the most well known ‘Big 3’ exercise is the bird dog: getting onto all fours and raising alternate arms and legs. This position and movement acts mainly on the posterior chain of muscles - the glutes, the lats, the longissimus, iliocostalis, thoracal lumber etc. 
  1. Second is the side plank, which works more on the lateral musculature, as well as the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus - particularly when you hold this position.
  2. Finally, the modified curl up. Laying on the back, this is a simplified version of a curl up, where we maintain position of the lower back, lifting only the shoulder blades. We then hold this position so we feel...
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The importance of the Bird Dog for your Low Back Pain Rehab or Core Workouts

May 14, 2024

If you, like many of my clients, suffer from low back pain, but still want to be able to develop core strength, stability and endurance, then Bird Dog could be an important addition to your routine. In the tutorial above I talk about why it’s so important as well as some of the ways I see people getting it wrong.


Why is Bird Dog important for low back rehab?

Bird Dog is useful and important for 3 reasons: 

  1. It's helping you develop something I call joint awareness.
  2. It's a high stability exercise – developing good quality stability.
  3. It's a low compression exercise - so it doesn’t put a huge amount of stress on the spine.


What do we mean by joint awareness?

If you want to be technical, we should be calling this proprioception, but I just want to keep it simple here. That’s why I’m calling it joint awareness. This means what is your body doing when you ask it to perform specific exercises? Where are you feeling the movements? Are you...

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Are Back Extensions a Good Exercise for Strengthening the Lower Back?

Apr 18, 2024

Opinions differ when it comes to the subject of whether back extensions are a good exercise for strengthening the lower back. In fact, I don’t often prescribe the back extension as I feel there are usually other exercises that can get you a better result.

But I’m aware there are people who don’t agree with me, so for the sake of balance, let’s look at the positives and negatives.


Performing back extensions – what are we actually trying to do

There are lots of ways of doing the back extension. One being on the floor, another with a machine. You’ll see in the tutorial video, that I demonstrate using a piece of equipment that allows me to hinge at the hips and then extend back up. This helps to activate and strengthen the lower back muscles.

In short, what we’re aiming to do with back extensions is to get the longissimus and the iliocostalis, along with other muscles of the lower back and even the glutes, to activate or come online. You...

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What are the best core exercises? Plank, Deadlift or Chops

Mar 18, 2024

Should you train your core dynamically - with movement, or isometrically - without movement? In the tutorial above, I explore the best core exercises, covering things like planks, deadlifts and chops. And I offer plenty of practical tips to help you put them together into a workout or programme.


Isometric versus dynamic: which is best for core exercises

First things first, isometric exercises are performed statically. You’re probably familiar with the plank, side plank and bridge. But the question is, are these types of static exercises the best ones for your core? Or should you be working in a more dynamic way.

In short, the answer is you should be doing both. But in the right way – start isometrically and only progress to more dynamic movements once you’re ready.


Why is it better to start with static exercises for your core workout?

I often talk to clients about the benefits, both physiological and psychological, of starting with isometric exercises...

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Straightening Things Out: Dealing with Lumbar Lordosis

Feb 20, 2024

Lumbar Lordosis, or an overly pronounced curve in the lower back, can cause pain, soreness and even fatigue. Often impacting day to day life. The good news is with better understanding and some practical exercises, you can live better with Lordosis in the longer term and even overcome many of the symptoms you’re experiencing. But it’s not just about stretching exercises, as you may have been lead to believe.

In the tutorial above I focus on the 3 things you need to do before you begin those exercises:


  1.  Foam rolling the anterior parts of the hip

With Lordosis, it’s important to understand that the main culprit is the psoas muscle. This is the one that joins onto the spine, pulling it in to create that inward curve. The anterior pelvic tilt we see actually comes as a secondary effect, caused by your body compensating as it moves.  And this often results in tightness through the front of the hip.

This is the bit we can access with foam rollers.


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Unlock Your Core Potential: 5 Exercises for a Rock-Solid Torso

Jan 15, 2024

In this month’s blog I am talking about how you can unlock your core potential. To do that we’ll look at the different components that make up core training as well as five exercises to help you build a robust core, giving you the strength, endurance and stability you need

Exercise 1 - Core Endurance – Side Plank

When we want to build the core, we don't just build core strength, we don't just build

core stability we need to build all the different components. So for core endurance we use the side plank because it’s a relatively simple position to hold, yet it gives us the ability to challenge the muscles over a prolonged period of time.

When we’re performing the side plank we want to imagine a straight line all the way down the body. Don’t allow the hips to hike up or sag, try to create a nice straight line going through the two shoulders. As we do this on both sides, we’re able to challenge the right side, the left side and a portion of the...

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Stop looking for a one size fits all program

Dec 15, 2023

Are you looking for a package or product that’s going to fix your lower back pain? A specific exercise perhaps? A few rules to follow? A magic wand to wave?

There are plenty of people around who will try to give you the answer. “Do this stretch,” they’ll say. “Try that technique.” And while these may be things that have worked from some people in some circumstances, and while they may be science-backed, to some extent at least, the suggested exercises will often be generalised. And just because a certain technique is better for lower back pain than another, does not necessarily mean that it’s the right thing to do for your lower back pain.

How to know what will work for you?

As there are so many different suggestions floating around, it can be hard to really set up a routine that works over time. Simply trying different things here and there is unlikely to help. And even if it does seem to, it will be near impossible to unpick what’s...

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Learn the Turkish Get Up with these steps and modifications

Nov 17, 2023

The Turkish Get Up is a perfect exercise for core stability and joint mobility, however it can be difficult to get to grips with. That’s why I wanted to create a tutorial to go through some of the tips and tricks I share with my clients to help them build up to the full exercise. And hopefully this will help make things easier for you too.

Prerequisites for Turkish Get Up beginners

If you‘re coming to the Turkish Get Up as a beginner, and you’re looking for a place to start, let’s talk about some prerequisites.

  1.  Hip extension

The first thing you’ll need for a smooth Turkish Get Up, is adequate hip extension. When you’re lifting up from the floor to the correct position, you need the hip to be extended rather than flexed in order to be able to get your knee underneath your body. You’ll find that successfully mastering this first part of the move comes down to glute muscle strength as well as range of movement.

  1.  Hip and shoulder...
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When overcoming low back pain, this doesn't get talked about enough

Oct 17, 2023

This might not necessarily be something you think is important. But it is. It’s something that doesn’t get talked about nearly enough. That’s why in this tutorial I wanted to go back to basics and  show you why, if you are struggling with lower back pain, you should be rethinking everything you do. 

So, what is this untold secret? 

It's small movement errors, the things that happen when we lift or twist, when we’re in a rush or not thinking. It’s the fact that just a little more concentration on the way we perform these everyday adjustments could make a very real difference on the recovery or recurrence of our lower back pain. 

Let’s get more specific:


  • Rounding the lower back 


When we get ready to lift something, we naturally round the back. Particularly when it’s something we don’t view as ‘heavy’. The problem is this rounding puts extra stress on the discs of the lower back. And...

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Exercising Strategies for Alleviating Lower Back Pain

Sep 15, 2023

When I speak to people struggling with lower back pain, they often ask the same questions: should I continue to exercise? What exercises should I do? And how do I make sure I don’t make it worse? 

In this tutorial I want to set out the journey you’ll go on and what you should be doing. As well as how I can help you to implement lots of positive changes, step by step without aggravating your lower back pain.


The importance of understanding lower back pain

The first thing I want to say here, is that your lower back pain is specific to you, you will have your own triggers. There will be specific postures, and scenarios that make it better or worse. The first step is to get to know and understand your own lower back. Because that’s the only way you’ll be able to learn how to do the right thing for it. 

When you join one of my online programmes, or work with me face-to-face, the first step will always be an assessment of your lower back pain. This...

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