What is the role of the QL?  A hip hiker or lumbar spine side bender? What about in sport when for instance large hip power is required? In the Yoke carry the QL on the contralateral side  allows for hip abduction. Acc. to Pr McGill the hip is not strong enough to perform this movement alone!

Thanks to Chad Waterbury for filming & posting Videos of the assessment & training for the lateral stabilizers of the torso & pelvis. Here is an introduction to the function of the QL & lateral stabilizers.

I will be showing –


  • Side Plank Endurance (lateral chain)
  • Importance of Asymmetry

Basic Training (Youtube is w/ assessment)

  • Side Plank
    • Key Points – couple Lats w/ QL by packing shoulder down
  • Plank Roll
    • Key Points – maintain core stability by rolling not twisting; pack shoulder down throughout
  • Side Bridge
    • Key Points – pack shoulder down; use hip hinge pattern to achieve plank form knees to occiput

Functional Progressions

  • The Kettlebell Carry
    • Suitcase
    • Rack & Bottoms Up w/ elbow tucked in
      • Key Point – elbow tucks in to reactively facilitate core; Bottoms Up also facilitate core
    • Waiter (overhead) Rack & Bottoms Up
    • Key Points – Use weight that allows for ideal gait pattern; observe for motor control errors such as pelvic or shoulder unleveling

Developmental Exercise

  • The Baby Get-Up
    • Note: This is essentially the movement achieved by an ideal 7.5 month baby. It is “hard-wired”
    • Goal: Achieve side plank on knee & feel lateral chain w/out feeling shoulder/neck region
    • Key Point – Push off wall w/ balls of foot on bottom leg

Check out the Basic, Functional & Developmental Series of Training Exercises for the Lateral Stabilizers of the Trunk I would like to credit 2 great inspirations – Pr Stuart McGill & Dr Pavel Kolar PT

Pr McGill has shown that asymmetric side plank endurance scores of greater than 5% are significantly correlated with a history of LBP. Even more so than a decreased endurance time of less than 60 seconds. He has also explained how that during Strongman Carrying tasks the gluteus medius is not strong enough to abduct the swing phase leg. This is where the contralateral QL “saves the day”.


Endurance times for low back stabilization exercises- clinical targets for testing and training from a normal database

Functional training with the kettlebell. J Bodywork Movement Ther. 2011 Oct;15(4):542-4.
The Baby Get-Up J Bodywork Movement Therapy  2012 Jan; 16(1):124-6


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6 Responses to The Misunderstood QL

  1. Debra Bonnefin says:

    Thanks for the great post and video. The video’s will be invaluable for students!

  2. Chris says:

    According to the concepts of the Postural Restoration Institute, the posterior back muscles (including the QL) on the right side have a tendency to be tighter than the left side due to right leg dominance, among other things. I’m curious if other people have noticed this trend as well.


  3. […] addition reading: on Dr. Liebenson’s blog  & Chad Waterbury’s blog. Also a previous post by Dr. Cubos on Gluteus Medius activation […]

  4. G. Bowman says:


    Can you shed some light as to why the downside leg is pushing against the wall in the baby get up? Is the muscle chain activity between the hip and knee enough to replicate the developmental position and muscle coordination needed to carry out the movement? I am having issues with the audio so if you explained this on the video I apologize.

    Thanks for all the great info.

    • Craig Liebenson says:

      The baby would be rolling onto all 4’s. Pavel Kolar taught us this. Pushing off the wall helps the subject feel their core. Without this the shoulder tends to shrug and the subject usually feels the neck/shoulder girdle region, instead of lat-oblique abd. region. Great question. If you come to a DNS course you probably can get a more thorough answer.

  5. Tandy says:

    On the kettle bell exercises sbown on your video with the right hand kettle bell, is tblhis if the pain is in the left or right ql muscle?

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