Whether you are new to Pilates, or you’re a Pilates veteran, The Hundred seems to get us every time. It’s a whammy!

In this 5 part series I will break down the classical Pilates exercise: The Hundred.

This quintessential Pilates exercise is the perfect warm-up.

It gets our abdominals, arms and legs warm. It gets our breath moving. It gets our blood pumping. It promotes the inward focus of connecting with our bodies.

The Hundred is often done at the beginning of a Pilates session. In his book, Return To Life Through Contrology, Joseph Pilates lists it as the first exercise in the sequence of 34 mat exercises he shares with us.

The full exercise has many facets and is actually quite complicated.  Often times we need to work up to doing it in it’s entirety.

Understanding all components of The Hundred individually will help you get the most out of the exercise when you perform it in your sessions. And hopefully it will help you to find JOY (gasp!)in doing the hundred.

Yes, it is possible.

After a while, you may even get addicted to The Hundred and find that you crave doing it regularly.

Over the next 5 weeks, we’ll discuss

  1. Breath
  2. Pelvic Position
  3. Head, Neck & Shoulders
  4. Leg position
  5. Arm movement

Today’s topic: BREATH

As you know, I’m a huge fan of breath. Fully understanding this particular aspect of The Hundred is the concept that helped me cross the line from being a hater of The Hundred to a lover of The Hundred.

As with all Pilates exercises there is an emphasis on breath. For this particular exercise, the breath is timed and the focus is specific:

  1. Exhale slowly for 5 counts
  2. Inhale slowly for 5 counts.

Repeat 10 times for a total of 100 counts, hence the name: The Hundred

The breath for The Hundred is the perfect combination of ribcage breath and sustained Transversus Abdominis (TVA) engagement.

By engaging the TVA for a sustained period, it’s a great opportunity to increase your ribcage breath capacity.

 On the exhale:

  • Breathe out through your mouth
  • Allow your abs to engage completely
  • Think about squishing a sponge inside the belly while pulling the abs back
  • Expel all the air out of your body.
  • Work to deepen the abdominals more and more on each set

 On the inhale: 

  • Breathe in through your nose
  • Allow your lungs to fill completely.
  • Breathe 3-dimensionally into the ribcage.
  • No matter what your head neck and shoulder position, you want to be sure that you are finding movement front to back, side to side and top to bottom throughout the ribcage.
  • Since you’ll be doing 10 sets of the 5 count inhale, work to increase your ribcage breath capacity each time you inhale during the exercise.

Try this now:

Simply work on breathing as if you’re doing The Hundred

  1. Sit up tall or lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat

  2. Inhale to prepare
  3. Exhale for 5 counts
  4. Inhale for 5 counts

Repeat #2 & #3 for a total of 10 sets. I like to count with my fingers to keep track.

Were you able to increase your ribcage breath capacity? Leave a note in the comments below and let me know!

Next time you do the full exercise in your session, focus on your breath. I look forward to hearing your insights as you master this breath pattern during The Hundred.