Objective: The aim of this study was to compare the effects of a high load lifting exercise with low load motor control exercises on pain intensity, disability and health-related quality of life for patients with mechanical low back pain. Design: A randomized controlled trial. Subjects: Patients with mechanical low back pain as their dominating pain mechanism. Methods: The intervention programme consisted of a high load lifting exercise, while the control group received low load motor control exercises over 8 weeks (12 sessions) with pain education included in both intervention arms. The primary outcome was pain intensity and disability, and the secondary outcome was health-related quality of life. Results: Each intervention arm included 35 participants, analysed following 2-, 12- and 24-month follow-up. There was no significant difference between the high load lifting and low load motor control interventions for the primary or secondary outcome measures. Between 50% and 80% of participants reported a decrease in perceived pain intensity and disability for both short-and long-term follow-up. Conclusion: No difference was observed between the high low load lifting and low load motor control interventions. Both interventions included retraining of movement patterns and pain education, which might explain the positive results over time.