Stuart McGill’s “Big Three” consists of the curl-up, side plank and bird-dog exercise. All three exercised work on building endurance in the core while putting the spine under a safe amount of stress. For beginners the first step should be to enhance endurance in the core before increasing strength.
Exercises such as supermans, back extensions, sit-ups, leg raises put over 2500 N of compression on the spine. Any exercise that is greater than 2500 N of compression on the spine puts you at risk of herniating a disk.
Reverse Pyramid Rep Scheme to build true endurance. Hold each position for 8-10 seconds long.
Curl-ups- 5 reps, 4 reps, 3 reps
Side Planks- 5 reps each side, 4 reps each side, 3 reps each side
Bird-dogs- 5 reps each side, 4 reps each side, 3 reps each side
Once you have mastered this volume of exercise you can add more reps to the pyramid but don’t increase the duration each repetition.
To see the proper form of the exercises listed watch the youtube video below:
Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance by Stuart McGill