Pilates studios and exercise enthusiasts alike are in love with the original abdominal exercises created by Joseph Pilates nearly a century ago. The basic exercise has been named "the hundreds” in Pilates classes.
The hundreds are an abdominal exercise. It engages the upper abdomen mostly, but if done slower or with legs extended at a 45 degree angle, or even lower than that, it also engages the lower abdominal region.
First, one lays on the mat with the back side down. Then one lifts the legs so there are L shapes from the calves to the thighs and L shapes from the thighs to the torso (at right angles).
Lift the torso up slightly so the head shoulders are up off of the ground and the arms and hands shoot out straight like arrows. The eyes gaze at the wall where the ceiling and wall meet. This keeps the chin from tucking and making the neck ache. If one still has discomfort in the neck, one may support with one hand and switch hands halfway through the exercise.
Now, begin pumping the arms with the count to 5. Five inhalations through the nose and five exhalations through the mouth as one pumps the arms up and down tightly, triceps engaged. We are curling up the shoulders and upper torso continuously in a C curve and pumping simultaneously with the breathing. This keeps the abs engaged.
Ten sets of these add up to a hundred.
The benefits of the hundreds: one can practice inhaling and exhaling properly for an abdominal crunch. One uses the abdomen in this exercise and it also allows the heart rate to go up. This is the first Pilates mat exercise after the warm ups.
Common mistakes: some folks pull on their neck too hard and don’t engage the abs for the movement. This uses momentum and may be tough on the neck. Some folks have loosey-goosey arms rather than contracting tight and stiff, pumping furiously to get a triceps workout as well.
I hope you all understand the hundreds better!
Original post found here.