As a runner, you NEED the Hundred to increase core stabilization and awareness. The dynamic up and down movement of the arms during the Hundred mimics the dynamic motion of running, therefore creating a similar environment for the core to work. This enhances the core’s ability to stabilize the pelvis during running as the terrain changes, as you turn, and as you fatigue. Perform this exercise up to 3 times a week.
The Hundred is a classic, dynamic Pilates exercise that promotes circulation, breath control, core awareness, core stability, and coordination. “It’s a belly buster, a breath pumper, a coordination challenge, and a great overall toning exercise,” (Marguerite Ogle, About.com Pilates Guide). Usually the first exercise in the Pilates mat sequence, the Hundred requires coordination of breath and movement as well as strength and grace. While it is challenging, the Hundred is easily modified to fit the needs of any level exerciser. See the ‘tips’ section at the end of the exercise description for modification ideas.
Difficulty: Beginner to Advanced, depending on the variation
Time Required: 2 min.
- Starting supine (on your back) with legs bent, feet flat on the floor and parallel, inhale through the nose to prepare.
- Exhale through pursed lips to bring the legs one at a time into ‘Tabletop’ position (hips and knees bent at 90 degrees, the shins and feet parallel to the floor, toes pointed). Arms should be extended long at your side on the floor. The head is on the mat with the back of the neck lengthened. Inhale through the nose.
- Exhale through pursed lips to curl your head up off the floor, feeling more length through the back of the neck, and keeping your chin a fist space from the chest. Then, continue to curl your upper spine off the floor by engaging the abs. As you do this, think about sliding the rib cage toward the hip bones so that the abdominals stay flat and do not puff’ up. The shoulder blades should feel as if they are sliding down into your back pockets. Your gaze is forward toward the knees. Inhale through the nose.
- Exhale through pursed lips to stabilize the abs, extend the legs, and lift the arms to hip height. The arms continue to lengthen, with the fingertips reaching for the far wall. The legs are now at a 45-degree angle, lift them to modify or lower them for more intensity. The legs should only be as low as you can maintain imprint, or without the lower spine pulling up off the mat.
- Hold your position. Then begin to pump your arms up and down in a controlled manner about 6-8 inches. This creates a small but dynamic movement of the arms that stems from the shoulder joint. Take a long inhale for 5 arm pumps and then a long exhale for 5 pumps.
- Repeat this sequence for 100 pumps of the arms.
- To finish, keep your spine imprinted as you inhale to bring the knees in toward your chest. Grasp your knees and exhale to roll your upper spine and head back to the floor.
To modify the hundred: keep your legs in tabletop position, or perform the exercise with your knees bent and the feet flat on the floor, lifting only the upper body.
If you have upper back and neck issues, perform this exercise with the legs in any of the 3 positions and the head down on the floor.
To make the hundred more challenging: lower the legs, however, do not go past where you can control the movement and keep the spine fully imprinted on the floor.
Guest Blog Author: Laura Tarbell
Cover model and national fitness titleholder, Laura Tarbell, is the ultimate coach to help you transform your body! As a coach, certified personal trainer, nutritionist, and pilates instructor for over 13 years, Laura has helped thousands of people improve their physique to bring them more self-confidence, energy, and strength.
She is the creator of Pilates for Runners and now Tread'n'Tone, a one-of-a-kind, hybrid program of running, muscle-building and pilates workouts. This program truly brings a well-rounded approach to fitness, with a spectrum of flexibility, high-intensity, and resistance training.