The Pilates Hundred - Everything You Need to Know

The Pilates Hundred – How to Perform this Fundamental Pilates Exercise

This incredible exercise is the first exercise that Joseph Pilates introduced in his book Return to Life Through Contrology. It is also one of the first exercises performed in most lessons and classes on either the mat or Reformer. The Hundred is a great warm up for several reasons including providing the products listed below.

The products of the Pilates Hundred:

·       Full capacious breathing moves more oxygen in and detoxifies the lungs with each complete exhale

·       Warms the body up with an internal shower circulating fresh blood to tissues and muscles

·       Requires the entire body and mind connecting the student to the present and movement

Breaking down the Hundred with three Mini-Exercises

Upper body curl

Lie on your back on the mat with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Hands will be clasped behind your head with your elbows in your periphery. On an inhale, scoop your abs and curl your head, shoulders, and chest up until you reach your shoulder blades and keep the legs, feet, and pelvis stable.  

Prep for the Hundreds exercise - the upper body curl

Prep for the Hundreds exercise - the upper body curl

Knee fold

Lie on your back on the mat with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Head is resting on the mat with arms long by your sides, palms down and slightly pressing into the mat. Inhale and scoop your abs to stabilize the pelvis as you draw one bent knee towards your chest to table top position. On the exhale, place that knee and foot back down on the mat keeping the pelvis and upper body stable. Repeat on opposite side.

Pilates prep exercise - Knee Fold

Pilates prep exercise - Knee Fold

The Hundred

Combine the two moves above and transition into the full 100 position with arms pumping and legs long at an angle (Start at 90 degrees and with control and precision, start lowering towards mat). Inhale for five counts and then exhale for five counts. Repeat for 10 reps, or 100 pumps total.

Pilates prep exercises help the student develop:

Choreography of the exercise

Breaking down the exercise in three steps can help the student understand the specific movements and put them together for the full expression and benefit

Maximize products of the Pilates exercise

Encouraging full, capacious breathing with each mini-exercise can is just one way to illustrate to the student early on how important and effective the breath can be. When the full Hundred is performed, the pumping can jump start efficient and capacious breath from the beginning of the lesson.

Build the foundation for the Pilates method

Each exercise has fundamental skills that are incorporated into it and are built upon as the student shows progress and understanding of the movements. More advanced Pilates exercises are just increased variations of the fundamental skills in beginning exercises like the Hundred, the Roll Up, etc.

How to Perform the Pilates Hundred

1.       Start lying face up on the mat with legs long and gently pressing the heels together. Arms are long by your side, palms down and neck and head relaxed.

2.       Take an inhale as you scoop your center to curl the upper body with arms reaching long and about 6-10 inches above the mat. Simultaneaosly lift the legs off the mat and reach the feet out long. The height of the legs off the mat will depend on the level of control and pelvic stabilization per student.

3.       Start pumping the arms up and down with the count of five pumps per inhale and exhale.

4.       After the full 100 pumps (or as many as you maintain control) gently roll the upper and lower body back down to the mat and rest.

With the variations and prep moves to learn the fundamental skills involved with the Hundred, this exercise will look differently for each student. The goal is to not perform it perfectly but to successfully do the exercise, so maximum benefits can be achieved. Pilates is a journey and students will experience days when some movements are easier or more accessible than others. Don’t lose focus or get discouraged. The quality of the movement is more important than getting into a specific shape. Keep up the good work with a positive approach and you will experience a healthier and happier mind, body, and spirit!

 Photos of The Hundred in Pilates Classes and Lessons

Here a several clients performing the Pilates Hundred. Each one is doing a great job of maintaining control and form while having fun!

Clients Karen, Emilee, and Laura performing the Hundred on the Reformer and the mat at Mogo Pilates.