How to Do the Pilates Hundred Exercise for Better Breathing
- The Hundreds exercise is a classic Pilates move that resembles a crunch
- Common mistakes include dropping the feet below the knees and forgetting to breathe during the exercise
- The Hundreds can improve your core strength and is suitable for any fitness level
Pilates is a wildly popular form of exercise suitable for a variety of fitness levels, and as with any fitness practice, you’ll want to begin with a solid warmup.
One beginner Pilates exercise is called the Hundred.
Here’s what it is, and how to do it properly.
What Is the Pilates Hundred?
“It’s your warmup!” says Andrea Rogers, creator of Xtend Barre and XB Pilates, “It’s exactly 100 pumps of your arms performed with cued breaths of inhales & exhales.” she adds.
The Hundred resembles a crunch, if you held the contraction at the top and added in arm pulses.
It’s a great warm-up because it builds heat quickly, spiking the heart rate and activating the core.
The Hundred Exercise: Step-by-Step Instructions
- Start lying supine (on your back) on the mat. Legs should be in a tabletop position, which here means that your thighs are vertical, your knees are bent, and your shins are horizontal.
- Engage your abdominals and lift shoulders, curling the spine, and lifting your head off the mat. Keep your lower back in contact with the floor — don’t arch your back.
- Inhale, pumping arms by side as they are lifted off the mat, making sure fingers, hands, and arms are straight. Inhale for one, two, three, four, five breaths with the first five arm pumps, and then exhale one, two, three, four, five breaths with five more arm pumps. After you complete ten, you’ll immediately continue to the next round.
- Repeat ten times to reach that magic number: 100.
- Upon the tenth set, inhale, increase your curl, and reach your arms past your hips. Hold. Then exhale and release back to lower yourself to your starting position. In other words, don’t flop down.
If you’re new to Pilates and can’t yet execute this exercise with proper form, start with fifty, then gradually work yourself up to the hundred.
To make the exercise more challenging, extend your legs straight out and off the mat — this can be toward the ceiling or at an angle, depending on your core strength (at an angle is harder).
“Some common mistakes include the feet being below the knees and not in a table top position,” says Sonya Simpson, Certified Trap Pilates® Instructor and owner of AlterEgo Pilates & Fitness Studio.
Andrea adds that another common mistakes is when “your arms must be placed inches above your hips and thighs.”
“And don’t forget to breathe!” says Helen Phelan, a trainer and health coach. “Breathwork is an intrinsic part of the exercise.”
What Are the Benefits of the Pilates Hundred Exercise?
“It aligns your body from crown of the head to the tips of your toes.
It addresses breath work, zipping up of the midline and correct alignment of the pelvis.
With correct cues, the 100 gets you ready for a full-body mat workout,” Andrea says.
It also helps develop “core strength, stamina, integration, and circulation throughout the torso,” adds Simpson.
Core strength is a central component of Pilates, which emphasizes proper alignment, muscle balance, and stability (all of which call for a solid core), making this warmup particularly foundational for good Pilates practice.
Because it can be easily modified, it is also a warmup that can be suitable for any physical condition, body type, or need.
Now that your body is adequately warmed up, you’re ready for a challenging and effective Pilates workout!