The Hundred is a classic Pilates exercise; in fact, it’s the first in Joseph Pilates’s Mat Sequence. Truly, this is one of my favorite exercises that I love to teach in class, or even to do myself when taking a class! This versatile exercise can be done on the Mat, Reformer, Tower and the Chair, and I just love how it engages the core and challenges us to execute it correctly every time.
Why you need to be doing The Hundred
- It’s a super way to warm up the body
- It increases abdominal strength
- It teaches us how to breathe deeply and connect the breath to the movements of the exercise
- It helps to increase our thoracic (mid back) flexibility
- It helps to strengthen our hip flexors and abdominals
- It teaches us how to connect the arms to the core
- Most importantly, it helps teach us about lumbopelvic stability
How to do The Hundred
On the Mat
Step 1 / Starting Position
Lie on your back with your arms at your sides, your knees bent, your feet flat on the floor and your heels in line with your ischial tuberosities (sit bones.) This exercise can be done in an imprinted, neutral or supported neutral position as long as the pelvis and low back stay completely stable throughout the exercise.
Note: The Hundred can be preceded by The Hundred Preparation to warm up for the exercise.
The Hundred Preparation simply involves (exhale) engaging the abdominals and rolling the head and upper body off the mat as you lower the arms to torso level (feet on floor, knees bent). Inhale, roll the torso down and reach the arms to the ceiling (starting position.)
Now you can proceed with The Hundred exercise.
Begin at starting position. Inhale to prepare. Exhale, engage the abdominals, and lift the feet off the floor (one at a time is best to protect the lower back) until the knees and hips are at 90 degree angles and the low back is supported.
Inhale, reach the arms toward the ceiling.
Exhale – Lower the arms and roll the head and upper body off the mat (roll up only as far as the bottom tip of the shoulder blades.) Straighten the legs and lower them toward the mat as far as you can without moving the back.
Inhale – Pulse the arms for 5 counts, keeping the arms straight and the torso quiet.
Exhale – Pulse the arms for 5 counts.
Continue to inhale and exhale as you pulse the arms up to 100 pulses in total.
Additional leg positions
- Place the legs in the chair position by keeping the knees and hips bent at a 90 degree angle as the head and upper body roll off the mat and the arms pulse.
- Place the legs over the hips by straightening the legs toward the ceiling as the head and upper body roll off the mat and the arms pulse (leg position can be parallel or turned out.)
- The legs lower as far as possible while the back remains stable (leg position can be parallel or turned out.)
- For neck and shoulder injuries, support the head, neck and upper body with a wedge pillow or towels, and only work the lower body.
- For low back injuries, work with an imprinted spine or a supported neutral position of the low back. You can use one of the leg position modifications to keep stress out of the back.
The Hundred on other equpiment
The Hundred on the Reformer
The Hundred on the Tower
The Hundred on the Chair
It’s the challenge in doing it correctly that keeps me coming back to it and trying to perfect it, and I love helping my clients find their “perfection” with The Hundred.
Charlotte Nelson is a certified Pilates and TRX instructor at ABC Pilates in Laguna Niguel, California. Charlotte wants to pass along the same passion and enthusiasm for Pilates that she developed after using Pilates to successfully recover from a back injury. Pilates practice didn’t just help return Charlotte to a state of wellness and fitness, it changed her life. Her philosophy about Pilates is simple: it should be fun and improve the quality of your life!
Click here to learn more about Charlotte and the other ABC Instructors.