Pilates hundreds exercise

What does a Pilates hundreds exercise do?

The Pilates hundreds exercise is designed to challenge the body’s lumbo-pelvic control with movement from the arms. This exercise also engages the body’s anterior oblique sling (consisting of the internal and external oblique muscles) which is important to maintain stability at the pelvis.

Progressing this exercise to a double table top position and adding the abdominal prep position to this movement also helps to build the strength and endurance of the abdominal muscles through a sustained contraction. Maintaining the abdominal prep position with this exercise also challenges the cervical and thoracic (neck and upper back) control and endurance.

Pilates hundreds exercise description

This exercise can be done at a variety of levels, see our video demonstrating this exercise. It is always important to work at a level that suits you and your ability and strength.

Below describes the progressions of a Pilates Hundreds Exercise:

Single tabletop position

Lying on your back with your knees bent approximately 90 degrees. Float the left leg into the tabletop position. Hold this position and begin to pulse your arms up and down in a small arc of movement. Inhale for 5 arm movements and exhale for 5 arm movements. On the 5th breath out lower the left leg and repeat on the right side. Aiming for a total of 100 arm movements.

Double tabletop position

Lying on your back with your knees bent approximately 90 degrees. Float both legs into the double tabletop position one at a time. Hold this position. Begin to pulse your arms up and down in a small arc of movement. Inhale for 5 arm movements and exhale for 5 arm movements. Aiming for a total of 100 arm movements. Then lower one leg at a time back to the mat.

Double tabletop maintaining abdominal prep position

Lying on your back with your knees bent approximately 90 degrees. Float both legs into the double tabletop position one at a time. Inhale to prepare then as you exhale lift into an abdominal prep position, lengthening through the back of the neck and sliding your shoulder blades and ribcage downwards. Maintain this abdominal prep positon throughout if you can.

If this feels too much strain on your neck then you can either lower the head from abdo prep position when required or support your upper back with a soft ball placed just above your shoulder blades.

Hold this position. Begin to pulse your arms up and down in a small arc of movement. Inhale for 5 arm movements and exhale for 5 arm movements. Aiming for a total of 100 arm movements. Then lower one leg at a time back to the mat.

Legs extended maintaining abdominal prep position

Lying on your back with your knees bent approximately 90 degrees. Float both legs into the double tabletop position one at a time. Inhale to prepare then as you exhale lift into an abdominal prep position, lengthening through the back of the neck and sliding your shoulder blades and ribcage downwards. Simultaneously, extend the knees and hips upwards towards the ceiling. Maintain this positon throughout if you can.

Begin to pulse your arms up and down in a small arc of movement. Inhale for 5 arm movements and exhale for 5 arm movements. Aiming for a total of 100 arm movements. Then lower one leg at a time back to the mat.

Then as you exhale fold both legs back to tabletop position and simultaneously lower the upper body back onto the mat. Then lower one leg at a time back to the mat.

Variations

  • Use some weighted balls in your hands to challenge further
  • Place a swiss ball under heels in table top position for more support
  • Change movement of hands for example moving from palms up to palms down.

Top tips

  • Make sure you are maintaining a neutral spine position throughout this exercise.
  • Watch for any dooming of your tummy indicating over activity of rectus abdominus muscle. Aiming to keep your tummy flat.
  • Watch for any over activity around your neck muscles i.e shoulders lifting up towards your ears! Keep shoulders blades down.
  • Keep your knees at the right angle position to your body watching for your knees coming up towards your chest.

Avoid Doing a Hundreds exercises if:

  • Ante natal when going into double tabletop.
  • Post-natal if you have a rectus diastasis if going into double tabletop.
  • Neck pain or instability in double tabletop
  • Acute low back pain or SIJ pain going to double tabletop

If you are unsure whether this exercise is suitable for you, you should always seek professional medical advice.


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