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Anatomy of the Pilates Hundred Exercise: Tips and Tricks for Getting it Right

Are you tired of teaching the Pilates Hundred exercise the same way? You’re not alone. Knowing the anatomy behind the exercise will bring it to life, and make you more inspired to teach it.

And if you’re a Pilates student, are you tired of doing the Pilates Hundred exercise without seeing much progress? You’re not alone. This popular exercise can be challenging to perfect, but with the right knowledge, you can transform your workout routine.

In this post, I’ll break down the anatomy of the Pilates Hundred exercise and provide you with tips and tricks for getting it right. From understanding the muscle groups involved to learning common mistakes to avoid, this comprehensive guide has everything you need to take your Pilates game to the next level. Get ready to feel the burn like never before!

Hey, I thought you might like to know that the Pilates Hundred exercise is just one of 3000+ Pilates exercises within the online Pilates Lesson Planner.

And if you like the Hundred Pilates exercise, you’ll probably also like my free downloadable Joseph Pilates lesson plan with all 34 Joseph Pilates exercises.

Pilates Hundred Exercise: Free Downloadable Infographic 

Please feel free to download the Pilates Hundred infographics below. If you’re a teacher, you can download, print and give them as handouts to your students.

Hundred Pilates Exercise Infographic

Hundred Pilates Exercise Infographic (free download)

Hundred Knees Bent Mat Pilates Infographic

Hundred Knees Bent Pilates Exercise Infographic (free download)

Pilates Hundred Exercise: A Birds Eye Overview

Video: Hundred How-to Video
1 of 34 (of the Joseph Pilates Series)
Next Position: Roll Up
Also Known As: Hundred Pulses
Category: Pilates Matwork
Level: Advanced
Benefits: Increase blood circulation. Good warmup. Increase abdominal strength.
Precautions: Shoulder tightness.

6 Steps For Pilates Hundred Exercise 

Pilates Hundred Exercise

Pilates Hundred Exercise

I like to break down each Pilates exercise into 6 steps.

As a Pilates teacher, it helps me teach the exercises better with a 6-step formula, but as a student (which I am when I’m at home), it also helps me remember the main teaching points of the exercise.

Step 1: Lie On Your Back
Lie on your back. Arms by sides with palms on the mat.

Step 2: Bend Knees
Bend knees towards the chest. Curl up your head, neck and shoulders.

Step 3: Hover
Hover arms up to the height of the abdominal wall.

Step 4: Extend Legs
Extend legs long to 45 degrees.  Heels together and toes apart (pilates stance).

Step 5: Pump
Vigorously pump arms up and down.  Inhale through the mouth for 5 counts and exhale through the mouth for 5 counts (one set).

Step 6: Return & Repeat
Bring your head and feet down to the mat. Repeat.

10 Tips for Achieving Proper Form Of The Hundred Pilates Exercise

Pilates Hundred Tips

Pilates Hundred Tips

To truly make the most of your Pilates Hundred exercise, it’s crucial to achieve proper form. Here are some tips to ensure you’re using the correct technique:

Tip 1: Finishing
To finish, keep your spine curved as you bring your knees in toward your chest. Grasp your knees and roll your upper spine and head down to the floor.

Tip 2: Release Neck Tension
Keep your neck gently tucked towards your chest, leaving enough room that you could cradle an egg between your chin and your chest.

Tip 3: High Legs
Keep the legs high to reduce arching in your back. The arch will cause you to use your back muscles instead of your abs.

Tip 4: Have Patience
Have patience with this exercise. The number one mistake beginners make when doing the Hundred is doing an advanced modification too early on. Have the courage to do the beginner modifications (see below) that help build the foundation for you to do the advanced versions.

Tip 5: Neck Strain
Your abs should be the body part that is working over time. If, however, your neck is strained it is a red flag and you should stop and choose one of the beginner modifications.

Tip 6: Gaze
Gaze at your abs (not the ceiling).

Tip 7: Core 
Make sure to engage your core muscles by actively pulling your belly button towards your spine. This will help to maintain stability and alignment throughout the exercise.

Tip 8: Breathing
Focus on your breathing. Inhale deeply through your nose, and exhale forcefully through your mouth as you pulse your arms. This will help you to maintain a steady rhythm and keep your body in sync with the movement.

Tip 9: Shoulders & Neck
It’s important to keep your shoulders and neck relaxed throughout the exercise. Avoid tensing and instead, focus on contracting your abdominal muscles to power the movement.

Tip 10: Heels Together
Keep your legs engaged by extending them fully and pressing your heels together. This will help to engage the lower body.

By utilizing these tips and maintaining proper form, you’ll be able to maximize the benefits of your Pilates Hundred exercise and achieve a more effective workout overall. Next, we’ll take a closer look at the key muscle groups involved in the exercise.

5 Beginner Modifications For Pilates Hundred Exercise 

Pilates Hundred Beginner Modifications

Pilates Hundred Beginner Modifications

Beginner modifications allow students to learn at their present level rather than charging head-first into something their body isn’t ready for.

Beginner Modification 1: Baby Hundred I
Keep your head and feet on the mat.

Beginner Modification 2: Baby Hundred II
Keep your head and feet on the mat. Raise one leg at a time.

Beginner Modification 3: Tabletop Position
Keep your legs in the Tabletop Position (the back remains on the mat, the legs are raised, and the knees are bent so the thighs are perpendicular to the floor).

Beginner Modification 4: Chair Position I
Lift the legs up, creating a 90-degree angle in your knee and hips (will look like you are in a sitting position in a horizontal plane).

Beginner Modification 5: Chair Position II
Lift the legs up, creating a 90-degree angle in your knee and hips (will look like you are in a sitting position in a horizontal plane). Bring the knees closer to your chest to reduce the angle of your hips.

6 Advanced Modifications For Pilates Hundred Exercise 

Pilates Hundred Modifications

Pilates Hundred Advanced Modifications

Advanced modifications allow experienced students to explore further into the exercise.

Advanced Modification 1: Hundred On A Foam Roller Version I
Hundreds on a Foam Roller version I

Advanced Modification 2: Hundred On A Foam Roller Version II
Hundreds on a Foam Roller version II

Advanced Modification 3: Ab Crunches On A Foam Roller
Ab Crunches on a Foam Roller

Advanced Modification 4: Arm Raises On A Foam Roller
Arm Raises on a Foam Roller

Pssst. If you haven’t got a  Foam Roller, I recommend this one. I practically live on my Foam Roller!

Advanced Modification 5: Legs At 90-Degrees
Raise your legs from the standard 45-degree angle to 90 degrees (near as possible to a vertical line).

Advanced Modification 6: Legs Low
The hardest version of the Hundred is when your feet are just a few centimetres off the ground (make sure your lower back doesn’t arch off the mat by focusing on engaging the abdominals).

Understanding Pilates Anatomy

Understanding Pilates Anatomy

Understanding Pilates Anatomy

To truly master the Pilates Hundred exercise, it’s important to have a basic understanding of Pilates anatomy. This means knowing which muscle groups are involved in the movement and how they work together to achieve the desired outcome. By understanding the anatomy behind the exercise, you can make better use of your time and energy, and target the areas in your body that need the most work.

In the subsequent section, we’ll provide you with practical tips for achieving proper form when doing the Pilates Hundred exercise.

With these tips and a deeper understanding of Pilates anatomy, you’ll be well on your way to a more effective workout routine.

Key Muscle Groups Involved in the Hundred Exercise

Pilates Hundred Anatomy

Pilates Hundred Anatomy

To create a well-rounded Pilates workout, it’s helpful to understand the specific muscle groups that are targeted by each exercise.

The Hundred Exercise, in particular, is known for its ability to engage and strengthen multiple areas of the body simultaneously.

Firstly, the abdominal muscles are heavily targeted in the Hundred. In fact, this exercise is often used as a benchmark for core strength and endurance. By maintaining a strong and stable core throughout the movement, you’ll not only tone your abs but also improve your overall posture and balance.

In addition to the core, the Hundred also requires significant engagement from the arms and shoulders. As you pump your arms up and down, you’ll feel your biceps, triceps, and deltoids working to maintain the correct positioning. This is a great way to tone and sculpt your upper body, while also improving your overall stamina and endurance.

Finally, the Hundred requires engagement from the lower body as well. By extending your legs and pressing your heels together, you’ll activate the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. This not only adds an additional challenge to the exercise but can also help to improve your overall strength and mobility.

By understanding the key muscle groups involved in the Hundred, you can ensure that you’re properly engaging each area of your body and maximizing the benefits of this popular Pilates exercise.

To avoid common mistakes and get the most out of your workout, let’s take a closer look at what to avoid.

Common Mistakes to Avoid when Performing the Hundred

Pilates Hundred Exercise Mistakes

4 Pilates Hundred Exercise Mistakes To Avoid

To avoid mistakes and get the most out of your Hundred Exercise, here are some common errors to steer clear of:

First and foremost, avoid holding your breath. It’s easy to get caught up in the repetition and forget to breathe, but this can be detrimental to your overall performance and health. Focus on inhaling deeply through your nose and exhaling fully through your mouth.

Next, avoid straining your neck. Keep your gaze toward your belly button and your chin tucked in toward your chest. If you’re struggling to keep your head and neck lifted, try placing a small cushion or folded towel beneath your head for support.

Additionally, don’t forget to engage your core muscles fully. It’s common to rely too heavily on momentum and forget to activate your abdominal muscles properly. Remember to keep your navel pulled in toward your spine and your lower back pressed into the mat or floor.

Lastly, avoid sacrificing form for speed or quantity. It’s better to perform fewer repetitions with excellent form than to rush through the exercise with poor form. Take your time and focus on quality over quantity.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the Hundred exercise.

Next, let’s dive into how to incorporate pelvic floor engagement for even more benefits.,

Engage the Pelvic Floor During the Hundred

Pelvic Floor Pilates Anatomy

Pelvic Floor Pilates Anatomy

To take your Pilates Hundred exercise to the next level, consider engaging your pelvic floor muscles during the exercise. Not only can it help with overall core stability, but it can also assist in preventing injuries and improving bladder control.

The pelvic floor muscles cover the bottom of the pelvis and support the pelvic organs – bladder and bowel, and uterus (womb) in women.

Pelvic floor exercises, like the Pilates hundred exercise, strengthen the muscles around your bladder, bottom, and vagina or penis. Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles can help urinary incontinence (ability to control the release of wee, poo and wind…and to delay emptying until it is convenient), treat pelvic organ prolapse, and improve your sex life.

As you inhale, focus on drawing your pelvic floor muscles up and inwards, as if you are stopping the flow of urine midstream. Exhale and release the muscles, allowing them to relax fully.

This small addition to the exercise can make a big difference in the long run.

In addition to pelvic floor engagement, it’s important to maintain proper form and alignment throughout the exercise. Remember to keep your shoulders relaxed, your neck in line with your spine, and your gaze forward. By prioritizing form over quantity, you’ll reap the most benefits from the Pilates Hundred exercise.

Engage the Rectus Abdominis (Abs) During the Hundred

Rectus Abdomins Pilates Anatomy

Rectus Abdomins Pilates Anatomy

Moving on to the Rectus Abdominis muscles (also known as abdominal muscles or abs), focus on drawing them in towards your spine as you exhale during the exercise.

This will engage the deepest layer of your core muscles, providing even more stability and strength throughout the movement. By adding these small adjustments to your Pilates Hundred exercise, you can take your core strength to the next level and achieve maximum benefits.

Engaging the Rectus Abdominis muscles is crucial for a strong and stable core during the Pilates Hundred exercise.

During the exercise, exhale and draw the muscles in towards your spine. This activation of your core muscles will provide deeper stability and strength throughout the movement.

By prioritizing form and engaging the deepest layer of your core muscles, you’ll reap maximum benefits from the Pilates Hundred exercise.

Next, let’s focus on the quadriceps, which are also involved in this exercise.

Engage the Quadriceps During the Hundred

Quadriceps Pilates Anatomy Hundred Exercise

Quadriceps Pilates Anatomy

It’s important to note that the quadriceps are also involved during the Pilates Hundred exercise.

These muscles, located at the front of your thighs, help to extend your knee and provide stability during the movement. While the Pilates Hundred exercise is primarily focused on the core, engaging your quadriceps can help to provide a full-body workout and promote overall strength and flexibility.

To activate your quadriceps during the exercise, focus on pushing your heels away from your body as you lift your legs off the ground. This will not only engage your quadriceps but also help to lengthen your hamstrings and promote better posture.

Remember to maintain proper form throughout the movement and avoid locking your knees to prevent injury.

Next, let’s turn our attention to the gluteal muscles, which play an important role in stabilizing the hips and lower back during the Pilates Hundred exercise.

Engage the Gluteal Muscles During the Hundred

Gluteal Muscles Pilates Anatomy

Gluteal Muscles Pilates Anatomy

Next, let’s turn our attention to the gluteal muscles, which play an important role in stabilizing the hips and lower back during the Pilates Hundred exercise.

As you lift your legs off the ground, squeeze your glutes together to engage these muscles. This will not only help to stabilize your hips but also promote proper alignment throughout your lower body.

However, it’s important to avoid over-engaging your glutes during the exercise, as this can cause unnecessary tension in your lower back. Instead, focus on using just enough force to engage your glutes without causing discomfort.

As you engage your glutes, remember to also focus on your breathing. Inhale deeply as you prepare to perform the movement, and exhale as you lift your legs off the ground. By syncing your breath with your movements, you’ll be able to perform the exercise more efficiently and effectively.

Now, let’s move on to the deltoid muscles, which play a crucial role in the upper body portion of the Pilates Hundred exercise.

Engage the Deltoid Muscles During the Hundred

Deltoids Pilates Anatomy

Deltoids Pilates Anatomy

The deltoid muscles play a crucial role in the upper body portion of the Pilates Hundred exercise.

When performing the exercise, it’s important to engage the deltoids by keeping your shoulders down and away from your ears. This will help to activate your upper back muscles and prevent any tension in your neck and shoulders.

As you start to pump your arms up and down, keep your elbows slightly bent and your wrists in a neutral position. This will ensure that your deltoids are working to their full potential and will help you to avoid any strain or injury.

Remember to keep your movements small and controlled, focusing on the quality of each repetition rather than the quantity. By engaging your deltoids and maintaining proper form throughout the exercise, you’ll develop strength and stability in your upper body, contributing to a more toned and balanced physique.

Incorporating these tips into your Pilates Hundred exercise routine will help you to get the most out of your workout, and will ensure that you achieve optimal results over time. Keep practising, and you’ll see the benefits in no time!

Final Thoughts 

In conclusion, proper form is key when it comes to the Pilates Hundred exercise. By understanding the anatomy of this challenging move and focusing on engaging the right muscle groups, you’ll be able to achieve a more effective and rewarding workout.

Remember to avoid common mistakes, and practice with a dedication to perfect your form.

As Joseph Pilates once said,

“Patience and persistence are vital qualities in the ultimate successful accomplishment of any worthwhile endeavor.”

So keep at it and enjoy the benefits of a stronger, more toned body.

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George Watts

Pilates Teacher
This post was lovingly brought to you by George. If you have a couple of minutes spare, you might like my Online Pilates Lesson Planner