The Hundred is probably one of the most classic Pilates mat work exercises and one that we often include in class.
Here is a short video to walk/talk you through the key stages in preparing for the exercise and how to make it best suited to your body by adding in various progressions or regressions.
As with any exercise (Pilates or otherwise) the key factor is your ability to manage intra-abdominal pressure. When this pressure is not well-managed, we place undue load onto the pelvic floor muscles, and/or excess load into the abdominal wall. The potential issues from repeatedly exercising without effectively managing intra-abdominal pressure include:
- a weakened pelvic floor, which over time will contribute to continence issues
- a weakened/lengthened/protruding abdominal wall
- changes to posture which can contribute to low back pain, hip pain, neck & shoulder pain, etc.
When performing the Hundred, try to stay mindful of what is happening in your body so that you can make suitable adaptations to improve the effectiveness of the exercise for you. For example:
- move your legs one at a time rather than both together (you’ll see this is what I do in the video)
- leave your head and shoulders on the floor instead of adding the abdominal curl
- support your head on a cushion or with one hand
- only hold one leg off the floor, instead of both
- work with bent legs rather than extending them to the ceiling
- hold the position for fewer breaths instead of the full ten breaths
Remember that you are aiming to feel your abdominal muscles working more than any other muscles in the body – if your neck is hurting or your legs are holding on tight, take it as a sign that your abdominal muscles are not able to effectively cope with what is being asked of them. When this happens, rest and start again when you’re ready, using a regression to keep the work in your tummy muscles. Sometimes, less is more!
I hope the video helps you to get your head around the preparation stages and get more from the Hundred as an exercise. Please ask if you have any questions at all Jx
(PS if you are new to exercise, recently post-natal or have any doubts about whether this exercise is suitable for you at this time, please seek appropriate advice from your medical practitioner or a qualified fitness professional)