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Trainers Favorites

Trainer Favorites is a series that highlights exercises our very own personal trainers do for their own workouts. Every other week we will select a new trainer and focus on a new muscle group, to give you new, fun exercises to try!

This week: Mikala Maiers

Mikala Maiers is a senior at Iowa State and one of our many fantastic personal trainers. She has been a personal trainer for two years and is ACE certified. She has worked with 10 clients and currently trains with two individuals and two groups of clients every week.

This week, Mikala will help us focus on the core. Your core is an essential part of your everyday movement. It keeps you balanced and stable, and helps brace for movement. It also takes more than an ab workout to strengthen your core. Here are three exercises Mikala has chosen to improve strength of the core: the pelvic tilt, a weighted dead bug, and single leg drops.

Pelvic Tilt

The pelvic tilt is a fantastic core exercise for beginners or people who don’t know how to brace their core well. It is an exercise almost all trainers use to assess the core strength of new clients. For this exercise, lie on the ground and relax. Take notice of the slight bend in your back. Next, bring your pelvic forward so that bend disappears, making your back flat against the ground. These work well in reps of six to eight. Start with one set and work your way up from there.

“Pelvic tilts are a great exercise to start with because they provide the base foundation for every other exercise that involves your core- so every exercise. The ability to tilt your pelvis is one that needs to be practiced by everyone all the time!” -Mikala

Weighted Dead Bug

The Weighted Dead Bug is another great core exercise if you have the movement of the pelvic tilt down. The first step is to find a medicine ball that isn’t too heavy (5-10 lbs) and make sure it is a weight you can’t curl but one that provides resistance. If this is new for you, you could try it without a weighted medicine ball. Get into the starting position as shown in the first picture. Extend one arm and the opposite leg out as far as you can while keeping your core engaged and your back completely on the floor. With the arm and leg that are not extended, keep the medicine ball elevated above you. After you are extended as far as you can, slowly return to the starting position. These are great to do in reps of six to eight and increasing reps from there.

“Deadbugs are a progression of pelvic tilts, and adding in a wall ball makes the exercise a moderate level one. These are great to do frequently and slowly.” -Mikala

Single Leg Drops

One other core exercise Mikala loves is the Single Leg Drop. Lie on your back and bend your knees at 90 degrees, like you are sitting in a chair. Then extend one leg up as far as you can like in the first picture, slowly bringing your leg down to the ground after a brief pause. As you lower your leg, make sure to bring it close to the ground, but don’t let it touch the ground, keeping your knees straight. After completing this full motion, switch to the other leg, keeping the movement slow and steady. Start with five reps on each leg to learn the motion and then increase from there.

“These single leg drops are a much better alternative to double leg lifts, because it forces you to use your transverse abdominus in a slow and controlled manner – hitting the deeper and lower part of the core.” – Mikala