Stop making these 3 core training errors and optimise your strength

Mar 17, 2021

 Core training isn’t just about achieving that flat, six-pack stomach or abs. It’s far more important than that!

Strong core muscles are vital to support your body and aid even the most common of everyday movements, from running and walking to sitting, bending and carrying the shopping. If your core muscles are weak it can lead to problems with the spine as well as other parts of the body such as the hips and shoulders.

But unfortunately, many of the things we’ve been taught are good to develop core strength can actually do more harm than good. And I’ve seen these problems affect people time and again.

What are the 3 fundamental errors people make when train their core?

It’s easy to make mistakes when training, but it’s important to learn what will and won’t benefit your body so that these errors can be kept to a minimum.

  1. Doing sit-ups and crunches

Just because once upon a time we were told that sit-ups and crunches were the thing to...

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How to improve your Core Stability with one exercise

Feb 15, 2021

We’ve talked about core stability plenty of times on the blog, discussing the anatomy surrounding it as well as various exercises that can help to improve our balance and coordination. I often talk about the fact that core stability, unlike core strength, is about muscle timing and smoothness of movement. It’s not how many repetitions of an exercise you can do, but the quality of the movement that is important.

The limitations of training for core stability

When we train for core stability, we are really looking at general principles. This is because core stability is specific to the aspect of sport and fitness we’re doing. Whether we’re running, cycling or swimming, a strong core can help us to balance, maintain the correct position and support the larger muscles to generate the power and consistency we need.

One exercise to help improve core stability

If I had to recommend just one exercise to help you work on these general principles of core stability,...

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The limitation of the McGill's Big 3

Jan 14, 2021

McGill’s ‘Big 3’

Thanks to years studying the spine, Dr McGill has identified three specific exercises that work together to effectively rehabilitate the back and build core stability. Known throughout the industry as ‘the Big 3’, these are some of the first exercises reached for by people and professionals alike when trying to overcome lower back pain.

In this tutorial, however, I want to explain why I think there’s more to it than that.

What do I know?

I’m not trying to be controversial, or to negate the work Dr McGill has done. I use it with people with lower back pain all the time, so I have a good understanding and appreciation of it. But we do have to understand the context in which we’re doing the exercises and make sure we don’t build them up to be something that they’re not.

I’ve read all four of Dr McGill’s books, I’ve completed his level one foundation course, his level two course on assessing...

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Lower back pain: One essential exercise to help heal a disc bulge

Dec 16, 2020

 Have you ever thought about how hard your spine has to work? It allows you to stand and bend. It enables you to walk and move around. In fact, it’s integral to almost every movement you do. And if you suffer with any degree of pain in your spine, you’ll know it can be really quite debilitating, impacting on large parts of everyday life.

Unfortunately, as we age, our spine starts to degenerate and weaken, leading to ‘wear and tear’ of its various parts. In today’s tutorial I want to talk about one such issue that can crop up, the bulging or herniated disc, as well as exercises I advise (and don’t advise!) you to do to aid recovery.

What are spinal discs?

Your spine is made up of 33 vertebrae which are split into five different categories, or types, depending on where they sit and how they behave. The lowest nine, around the tailbone or sacrum, are fused together, however the remainder, from the lumbar region upwards are separated by spinal...

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Scoliosis: 5 Fundamentals of Scoliosis Treatment

Nov 16, 2020

The first step in learning how to stretch out or rehabilitate a specific condition is to understand what’s happening anatomically. Without that detailed knowledge, it’s difficult to understand the reasons behind particular movements and techniques. Which means it’s hard to stay motivated.

If you can see how or why something works, you’re much more likely to stick to it and therefore more likely to see results.

That’s why in this tutorial I want to talk about the way I approach scoliosis treatment and how and why this can help improve associated back pain and discomfort.

What impact does scoliosis have on the body?

Scoliosis causes curvature of the spine. It can be present from birth, or more usually appears during adolescence. Sometimes this may be as part of a condition such as muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy, but often the cause is unknown. Depending on where on the spine the curve occurs, and how severe it is, this may be visible, affecting a...

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Core Stability: How to Train Your Small Stabilising Muscles

Oct 15, 2020

I fundamentally believe that one of the best ways to succeed in core training is to understand, anatomically, what it is doing for you and how your body is benefiting from the exercises you choose to do. That’s why I almost always stray into the biology when I’m presenting these concepts in my YouTube tutorials.

And this one is no exception. Here we look at core stability and how and why you can take it to the next level by focusing in on the bodily systems that work so closely together to keep us balanced and moving smoothly.

What is core stability?

As we often discuss, core stability is different to core strength. Core strength is your ability to hold a posture. Whereas core stability is about the timing of muscle movements. It’s about the small adjustments our body makes almost all of the time to improve our balance and keep us moving smoothly and efficiently.

We’re not talking about the big global force-production muscles that give us the strength and...

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Exercise for low back pain: Why you should stop doing back extensions

Sep 15, 2020

Back extensions are popular with people looking to target and rehabilitate their lower back. But if you’re in that position or these have been suggested by your trainer, there are a few reasons you should think twice before giving them a place in your exercise regime. 

In this blog we’ll look at some of the anatomical reasons you should think about your approach to low back rehabilitation differently. We refer to the book, Low Back Disorder by internationally recognised low back specialist, Dr Stuart McGill, and we look at an alternative exercise that could work to help improve your low back pain.

First, some anatomy to help us understand the back muscles at play

When we’re talking about the lower back and lumbar region, we often talk about groups of muscles called extensors, flexors and iliopsoas. These attach to the spine via soft tissues or tendons. And if injured or weakened can cause pain in this tendinous lower back area. 

This time though,...

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Low Back Pain Treatment: I get low back pain while I walk

Aug 16, 2020

Do you get low back pain while you walk? It's an essential everyday task and it could be due to some simple posture faults that can be easily corrected. This isn't a magic pill that will correct your pain overnight, it's a slow and steady process that gets your body working correctly and reduces your lower back pain over time.

Some of the key learning points you'll cover in this blog

  1. What is poor walking posture/technique?
  2. The impact of poor walking on the spine
  3. What is better walking posture/technique?
  4. The impact of better walking on the spine

What is poor walking posture/technique?

During walking the compressive load on the lumbar spine is approximately 2.5 times your bodyweight, along with very modest shear forces. These forces can slowly wear down your body and eventually you'll experience pain. Over time this pain can come on earlier and earlier and you need to reverse this trend.

What is poor walking posture/technique?

  • Slower pace, little to no arm swing and hunched posture...
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Core Strength: The 2 fundamentals of core training

Jul 15, 2020

Core training isn't doing sit ups, crunches and other spine bending exercises because these movements are done at the expense of your spine. Overtime, as these exercises damage the spine your core strength and stability will reduce. Core training means following two fundamentals;

  1. The torso is designed to prevent movement
  2. The limbs are designed to produce movement

Why Sit Ups & Crunches are not core training

These two exercises violate the first fundamental because they bend the spine. Side bends, back extensions and twists are the same, they produce movement of the spine rather than prevent it. These exercise slowly diminish the structures of the spine that lead to injury. This doesn't mean your spine cannot or should not bend, twist or extend but under the load of an exercise it increases the risk of injury. 

The 2 fundamentals are based on how your body is built

I have pulled these fundamentals from thin air, if you look to your anatomy it begins to paint a picture...

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A practical guide for treating Lordosis

Jun 18, 2020

In order to improve your Lordosis you need to do more than a few token stretches. Your body need to learn better posture because if it can learn bad posture it can learn good posture. This is quick to say but takes longer to do and it happens small increments.

How do you learn good posture?

As I've mentioned it takes time and different pieces to the puzzle.

  • Massage
  • Stretch
  • Move


This doesn't have to mean seeing a massage therapist every day or week, you can self-massage with a foam roller for example. The key is to reduce the rigidity to tight muscles ready for stretching. I find the chewing gum metaphor to describes it best, if you take a stick of chewing gum and pull it apart it'll snap in two. If you chew it first and the pull it apart it'll stretch. Massage for the muscles is like chewing is for the gum, it brings suppleness to the muscles so stretching is more effective.


Now that you have supple muscles you can stretch them and this sets you up for the...

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