Encore legends: Dr Stuart McGill

Dr Stuart McGill’s is one of the most prolific authors and practitioners in the world when it comes to lower back pain and it’s prevention.

We’ve covered a few legends over the last few months, but when Prof McGill was discussed as making an appearance it took me a while to get across how important this guy is to the rest of my team.

In summary: when it comes to protecting the back, what McGill says goes. End of.

If there’s an exercise that he says will help your back, then do it. If there’s a different version of an exercise that McGill prefers, then do it.

What this guy doesn’t know about back pain and core training…. well it doesn’t exist. He literally wrote the book on it. Several in fact. And probably proof-read all the others for his colleagues.

But we all know that prevention is better than cure, and luckily professor McGill isn’t shy about sharing his top tips to help bulletproof your back and core.

The ‘McGill Big 3’ are three movements you can do at home to relive and even prevent back pain. They’re all designed to improve the core musculature’s resistance to flexion, extension and lateral flexion (bending). This way we get really good at protecting our spine when under load or performing day to day tasks.

The Big 3 are:

Isometric Curl Up

  • Lie on your back with one leg straight and one had behind your back
  • Place one had underneath your lower back to maintain a neutral spinal arch
  • Pull head and shoulders off the floor using your abs and hold for 5-10 seconds

Repeat 3 times, then switch sides and repeat

Kneeling Side Bridge

  • Lie on your side ensure your forearm is underneath your shoulder and knees are in line with shoulders.
  • Elevate your hips using your obliques and hold for 10 seconds then drop your hips back to the floor.

Repeat 3 times then switch sides


  • Assume a quadruped (all fours) position ensuring knees are under hips and hands under shoulders.
  • Raise the left arm and right leg simultaneously ensuring the at the end position your arm and leg are parallel to the floor

Hold for 10 seconds – Re-assume your starting position and repeat 2 times each side

The Encore approach to non-stop progress

At Encore, you will find a results-focused fitness environment, designed to constantly move you towards your personal goals.

Our unique blend of intelligently intense small-group sessions, evidence-based exercises and ever-changing programmes trains you as an elite athlete, keeping workouts challenging and exciting.

Our strength and conditioning training programme includes classes that focus on lifting weights, in a closely monitored environment, while other build aerobic capacity.

The Encore team also provides nutritional guidance, sharing a range of information sources and expert advice to complement your fitness programme, and help you reach your goals.

Join us and get fitter, leaner and stronger.

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