Stuart Mcgill- Training the Core

Back/spine specialist Stuart Mcgill has some very interesting thoughts on training the core for lower back health and performance.
His exercises involve keeping the spine in a neutral position and keeping the core braced to resist movement (sit-ups and crunches are out).

Read the below articles;

Mike Boyle (in the article ‘Joint by joint approach to training’) wrote this-

The Lumbar Spine (Stability)

The lumbar spine is even more interesting. The low back is clearly a series of joints in need of stability, as evidenced by all the work in recent years in the area of core stability.
Strangely enough, the biggest mistake I believe we’ve made in training over the last ten years is engaging in an active attempt to increase the static and active ROM of an area that obviously craves stability.

In other words folks, you don’t need to stretch your low back. Trust me, I know what you’re going to say. “It feels good to rotate.” It does feel good when I do that stretch. Check out my article, Is Rotation Even a Good Idea? (link to Is Rotation Even A Good Idea?) on my site.

Do you know what I tell coaches and trainers when they tell me “it feels good when I do X,” I tell them scratching a scab on a cut also feels good. However, the result is bleeding and scar formation.

This is how I feel about rotational stretches for the low back. They’re like scratching a scab. I believe that most if not all of the many rotary exercises done for the lumbar spine were misdirected. Both Sahrmann (Diagnosis and Treatment of Movement Impairment Syndromes) and Porterfield and DeRosa (Mechanical Low Back Pain: Perspectives in Functional Anatomy) indicate that attempting to increase lumbar spine ROM isn’t recommended and potentially dangerous.

I believe our lack of understanding of thoracic mobility has caused us to try to gain lumbar rotary ROM and this is a huge mistake. So let’s get back to lifting.

The lesson here is, never, and I mean never use any kind of rotary torso machine. Eliminate all the trunk twists, Scorpions, etc. that you do to “warm-up” your low back. As McGill says, “Spare the spine.”

All this talk over the past ten years has been about core stability, not core mobility. The lumbar spine needs to be stable, not mobile. Squat tall with the bar high; deadlift with a flat back. If you have a history of low back pain, go single leg.


Ben got thousands of reps in. Got get those reps in.
Mike Boyle? Who has he coached in elite sprinting? No twists? No scorps? Not feelin it.

Dr. Stu said sprinters don’t breathe in the 100. That’s a lie. Bold face lie.

Yea why eliminate scorpions and other warmup exercises? Is the to fulfill the good ol’ boy’s club theory of “ankle:mobility, knee:stability, hip:mobility, spine:…hmmm has to be stability so we will never move it:eek: , shoulder: mobility”.
I’m god old (or new) boy certified. Robinson, Cressey, Hartman, and Boyle 4-life.

Robertson and Cressey can’t coach like a track man can. No speed.

You just have to balance the positives and negatives of any issue. Repeated loading in a hyper extended position is probably not the best idea but at the same time a few reps here and there won’t kill you either. My thoughts would be to just minimise the amount of hyper extension of the spine and most people do isometric torso work anyway, it makes a nice change and complements the “old” methods.

I’ve read a lot of McGill’s stuff and I definitely think he makes some good points. McGill himself often states that training for high performance and training to maximize back health are not always the same thing. A lot of it depends on the individual’s ability to handle the work safely. His back training book devotes quite a bit of discussion to qualifying those athletes who can tolerate more stressful work that would otherwise compromise back health for other people.

Id be interested to know what Charlies thoughts are on mcgills methods

Sprinting is a rotation of the hips. Its also dependant on a strong and stable core.

Too many times, Gurus come and say “dont do A do B” yet for yrs people have been doing B. However, some have found doing B leads to injury or just does not work, and in the process found A. Does that now mean everybody should do A now?
Why is it some cant do B? have they looked into and broken down its components to find out why? Most of the time, No!
Does a certain exercise, in this case A or B cause injury? Again, no, its just an exercise. If the person is doing the exercise correctly, then no injury should result - most of the time an injury happens due to incorrect use of or technique or even ability to “turn on” on certain muscles. Eg, some dont know how to turn on their Glutes and so their hammies tighten up every time. Or even little muscles like the rhomboids dont know how to be turned on during typical exercises.

My take,
core stability is a must
as is core flexibility

I agree with Flash’s comments. Depends on what you’re looking for and any pre-existing issues. You need to know what can be done both in a dynamic or static way to cover all eventualities.

Tell hammer throwers, in fact all throwers not to do rotational work, and see what happens.

For throwing sports, mcgill advocates twisting at the thoracic spine (around chest level) instead of at the lower back.
The theory is- stay stable at the lower back and twist higher up for efficiency

In terms of loading parameters, McGill has reinforced Charlie’s point that it’s the low intensity endurance aspect of the abdominal muscles that should be addressed with specific abdominal work.

The main point of difference (at least superficially) is the choice of preferred exercises. McGill’s Big Three exercises (curl up, side bridge and bird dog) are used as his starting point because they produce the least amount of compression and shear on the spine. However, keep in mind that McGill is usually writing from a clinical perspective in which the trainee in question is usually presenting some symptoms of back pain. If you read his book Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance he does get into more conventional exercises that are similar to what we’re used to seeing from other core training sources. McGill simply devotes more attention to determining who is qualified for these more advanced exercises and what the potential dangers are.

Stuart McGill - Low Back Disorders (Evidence-Based Prevention and Rehabilitation).pdf


Been training the core isometrically for over 3 years now, how it should be done.

Planks are a top 5 exercise IMO, but L-sits are great too.

Again with the copyright infringement. Are you trying to get the site shutdown or are you just a dumbfuck?

Hey dick!

Again with the copyright infringement. Are you trying to get the site shutdown or are you just a dumbfuck?

Get off my back, will ya?

Lyle McDonald’s book collection;

Sue me!

Oh but they are available for a free download on the Internet! All one needs to do is type your name and "pdf next to it and voila! Is this why you are going around, pointing finger and screaming? LOL Such is life!