This may be a tough pill to swallow for some, but The Hundred is an excellent exercise to get the circulation revved up, fire up the abs, and get you ready for what's to come in the rest of your workout. I personally like to do it to warm up the finger tips and toes in the dead of winter. It really works! On top of it all, it really gets some fresh oxygen into the lungs. I'm including a video clip of myself doing two sets of the ten you want to work up to.
1. Start by lying on your back with your toes pointed up to the ceiling. You can always bend the legs for a modification. Remember to imprint the lower back into the mat, which means you have to fully engage the lower abs. I also like to rotate the legs slightly from the hip joint and squeeze through the inner thighs throughout this exercise, just to add a little somethin' somethin'. Reach the fingertips long along side your body, reaching past your hips. Think of the shoulder blades sliding down the spine and creating the greatest distance you can between earlobes and shoulders. This will aid in the next step of bringing your chin toward your chest, like you're cradling an egg between neck and chin, which is where your head will stay for the entire exercise. This will also help you to have a great view of the lower abs, making sure they scoop!
2. Now, pump the arms up and down like you're slapping water. Inhale for five pumps of the arms and exhale for five. That's one set. Gradually work your way up to ten sets, continuing the breath, equaling one hundred pumps of the arms. (This is a good place to work on lateral thoracic breathing a.k.a. sideways ribcage breathing. Don't let the front of the ribs splay open; keep the ribs knit together.) If you're feeling really strong in the lower back, lower the legs to a point that you can maintain your lower back imprinting into the mat. You can work your way down to about a 45-degree angle with the legs. If you do feel your lower back peeling off the mat, raise your legs a bit or bend them into a tabletop position with the knees bent at a 90-degree angle and shins parallel to the floor.
3. Finish up by relaxing your head and shoulders onto the mat and hugging your knees into your chest, giving yourself a nice little back stretch. If the front of your neck is feeling a bit tense, just drop your nose from side to side, which will release the tension in the neck flexor muscles.
I hope this explanation and mini-demo help with your execution of The Hundred! Try to do The Hundred daily before you go on to the other Pilates exercises. Please feel free to ask any questions that you have regarding the exercise if you need further help.
This post is dedicated to Stephanie. I kow The Hundred is your fave!!!