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The Hundred

Today’s training tip centers around the core with an amazing Pilates exercise that works all of the abdominal muscles. The hundred conditions the diaphragm because of the long breath pattern used throughout the exercise. . This teaches your body breath control, which is vital for strengthening the core. The hundred not only reduces back pain, but also tones the legs, which is a definite bonus.

To set yourself up for the exercise, lie face up on a mat with your legs in tabletop. Begin to focus on your breath as you inhale. Exhale as you curl your upper spine off the floor, and gaze down at your abdominal muscles. Think of your abs as a sinkhole, drawing your navel toward your spine. Inhale again as you extend your arms and legs in front of you. Take your legs down as low as you can go, which is only as far as you can take it without the lower spine coming off of the mat. This is important! You want to keep your low back connected the entire length of the exercise.

The breath pattern is five breaths in and five breaths out. Make the breaths short, and control the pump of your arms. Do 10 sets of five breaths in and out, and make sure to pump the arms at the same rhythm as your breath.

Remember that you are pumping your arms from the back, not the shoulders. All the work should be in your core. To modify, you can always bring your legs higher off the floor, or leave them in a tabletop position. To make it more difficult, hover your legs lower over the floor.

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