The Pilates System: The Hundred vs. the Wall

The Pilates System: The Hundred vs. the Wall

Hello and welcome to another epic battle of Pilates exercises.

Lately I've been working diligently to perfect one of the most infamous of the Pilates exercises: the Hundred.

I've also felt a resurgence of the Wall exercises. Such simple and effective exercises which can be done anywhere you're able to commune with a wall.

The Wall is a great finisher to your at-home-between-studio-visits Mat workout.

Who doesn't want better posture I ask you?

Check out how brutal and demanding the Wall can be in a recent video:

From Reader's Digest, October 1934, Cutting a Fine Figure:

A few remedial exercises must be gone through daily, if you care two pins about having a 20-year-old figure at the age of 50.

Here is one that Pilates recommends: lie down and try to make the whole length of the spine touch the floor, likewise the shoulders and arms, stretched above the head.

You can't do it, but trying is what counts.

Just what we do at the end of our Wall exercises yes? We work steadily to lengthen the back of us – now in an upright position – along the oh-so-unforgiving wall.

Again, it's impossible, but it's the trying that counts and corrects our posture.

Correcting our posture? Remember there's another stellar group of Pilates apparatus which serves us on our quest for amazing and youthful posture: the barrels (Small Barrel, the Spine Corrector and the Ladder Barrel).

Make the Hundred Great Again

With our rigorous Pilates training, we can develop a facility for a familiar exercise like the Hundred.

We become tremendous cheaters.

As you'll see in this week's video, I can fake my way through the Hundred. I can park my legs low off my pelvis and really not connect my lower body into my center.

No bueno…

Let's make this exercise a challenge again. Let's see if we can work it so well maybe the whole 10 sets of the Hundred will be too much and we'll barely make it to 80…

First, what are we warming up here in our iconic Pilates exercise?

The center. The back. Right?

In just a few short exercises our order of the Reformer exercises and our order of the Mat exercises will demand our backs embark on the juicy, stretchy challenges of the Overhead and the Roll Over, respectively.

How exactly is that gonna happen?

No need to change the order, however, we do need to make all our preceding exercises that much more effective in preparing the body for inversion.

Might as well start with the Hundred.

Hundred vs. the Wall

Use the 2 videos included in this post to refine your exercises: the Hundred with help from the Spine Corrector, and the Wall.

Let's see how helpful this will be to perfect your ultimate expression of the Hundred.

You too may speak the same phrase I do every five minutes in my Pilates workout:

“Oh yeah, it's just like that other exercise…”

The Pilates System: The Hundred vs. the Wall

Enjoy this short video tutorial. Wanna see your favorite exercises in an epic battle? 

Lay it on me in a comment below and let's go for it!

Wanna experience the blog live and in person? Join me this fall!

Upcoming Fall Workshops

Sunday November 27 Studio B Pilates+Barre, Tyler TX

You’ll love this jam-packed day of Pilates Continuing Education: I’ll be offering private lessons, a Mat class plus 2 workshops: A Cadillac Refresher – the Unsung Heroes(3 PMA CECs) and Strategies and Exercises on the Wunda Chair (3 PMA CECs)Register today

Thursday-Saturday December 1-3 Excel Pilates, Washington, DC

Join me for my post popular posts Live! and in person: On the Order of the Pilates Reformer Exercises (4 PMA CECs) and On the Order of the Pilates Mat Exercises (2 PMA CECs). I’ll be teaching my favorite Cadillac workshop: The Unsung Heroes and Progressions to Standing Arm Springs (3 PMA CECs) as well as a Mat class, private and semi-private lessons. Register today

Saturday December 17 LauraBPilates Studio, Raleigh, NC

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  1. EPIC. Seeing The Hundred in a new light! Because yes, putting your legs close to the ground is sometimes easier and I always wondered “but how can this be!?” Well, let me head to the bunker and try this battle out because it’s SNOWING outside.

    YES. you are correct (always)! I’m poouching out the gut, no lower bod reach, no butt fire and and not keeping the spine long! Come hither WALL! You know how you push through your feet while on the Wall? Well, take this to the Mat and your butt fires a bunch. Magic. Legs then reach. Now, bring on the Spine Corrector…back to Mat…yup! I’m sweating trying to keep that spine long and tight on the Mat and no, The Hundred is not so easy after all 🙂 I guess if any Pilates exercise ever starts to seem “easy” one must ask, Oh, REALLY? Dissection at it’s finest.

    On a fun side note, after doing Spine Stretch Forward (correctly) on Friday, my middle back has never been so sore: ie: found those muscles! Thanks Wunda, Thanks ANDREA! xo

    • There’s a lot going on in the bunker 🙂 OMG snow! Yes, I find the scoop necessary to execute exercises on the Spine Corrector is exactly the feeling we need to nestle our backs into the Mat in the Hundred. If that can be in place then when you lower the legs – Oh Boy! – that’s a lot of work. And excellent news about your Spine Stretch Forward as well… good job! See you tomorrow, xox

  2. Alessandra says

    Wow! This is marvellous Andrea! I have to admit I’ve never really found the 100 easy???? !! I tend to keep my legs high as I have a somewhat grumbly low back – BUT what’s also interesting is that the upper body is also quite low – I mean a long low curve – just the head, neck and not much more – you see so many people much more curled and kind of crunched up! Very un Pilates, crunching ☺️ So I’ve been working on that long low upper curve and #holyscoop Batman???? Does that get your abs firing!! Great stuff on Mr Spiney C ❤️ Oh how I love thee???? And since your post on wall exercises I’ve added those into my Pilates love fest???????? Thanks again for your generous teaching!! You positively liven up my day!! #rockthatscoop ???? xoxo

    • Alessandra thank you so much for all your kind words 🙂 I too love the Wall exercises – they are just so simple and good for us. Yes, keep up the work with Spiney C and yes even with the legs high you’ll get deeper scoop to make your back feel long and supported… thank you so much for reading and working out and sharing your thoughts here, so appreciated! I feel like there are such lovely people commenting here I want to have a party LOL to which you are all invited! xox

      • Alessandra says

        Yay!! A Pilates party! Just set the date and I’ll come straight over! #pilatesgeeksparty ????????????????????????????????????

  3. Love the wall exercises, I plan to try with all clients. I like the comparison to the wall spine alignment but find it impossible to lift the legs straight from floor. The upper body position and arm pumping was a great visual refresher. Thank you for sharing, I’ve always been in search of a mentor so I can continue to learn and deepen my knowledge and I feel like I find a lot in your blog posts. I also enjoy your enthusiasm! Thanks again.

    • Hi Toni,

      Thank you so much for reading and sharing your thoughts here – and I so appreciate your kind words on the blog. I LOVE the Pilates method and what it can do for our bodies…I have heard that Joe Pilates was like an evangelist about his work and I totally understand that description – I feel like I can’t say enough about it myself LOL.
      Yes the Wall exercises are a great ending with all levels of clients. And for yourself if you find it challenging to lift the legs from the floor, you can of course start with the legs in, or even just keep the legs long and on the Mat instead of lifting them up at all. See how your back feels about that of course… 🙂

  4. This is great, let’s have more epic battles! The way one of my master teachers taught me the hundred, to sort of feel what I think you’re talking about, was they came along when I was doing it and had my legs at a 45° angle, and gently took a hold of my ankles and pulled on my legs at that same 45° angle. He told me to make my legs long and soft, like cooked pieces of spaghetti, but to reach them out and away from my body. I do that now with clients, and they often say afterward that it makes a lot more sense to them doing it that way. It really makes them lengthen in their back and stop working their legs quite so much. What do you think of that?

    Again, your charming humility coupled with your obvious expertise make you such a delight to learn from. I have a question: when I was learning Pilates to teach, again, one of my mentor teachers taught me to use the expression “mushy Tushy “. She explained that, too many people initiate movement by gripping in their butt, and it leads to lower back pain. So they have to be trained to initiate movement from there abdominal muscles, eventually learning how to use their whole powerhouse. What do you think of that? I’ve noticed that you talk a lot about using the butt, and I would just be curious as to your opinion. Thank you in advance!

    • Steph,

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience and your info for spotting the Hundred – that sounds like it is tremendously effective for people to not overwork the legs and get deeper into the center – brilliant! I plan to check that out later this afternoon…

      Ah yes the seat…I have had quite a learning curve on this topic myself actually. When I was a new teacher I worked in a studio where squeezing the seat was very much emphasized but I never got much information about exactly how I was to do that…so it was a lot of random squeezing and overworking hips and legs on my part. Fast forward to today…

      Using the 2-way stretch, I find it helpful to think about how the seat works in conjunction with finding length in our bodies – not just a random squeeze which is more than likely gripping vs. what we want which is opening.

      Finding length in the middle back (what we’re looking to find as a result of working the upper stomach or the rib area) plus the lengthening use of the seat (thinking of reaching the tailbone downward to engage just the underside of the seat at the top of the leg) will serve to open and decompress the back – in particular the low back. So now I find seat engagement essential to finding the entire powerhouse.

      And I like what you add from your mentor. I find too that the more lift up out of the waist one can find – the reach of the upper body – it helps to reveal the seat action as it is reaching in the opposite direction – so I agree finding the center and stomach first can help us discover how the seat can figure into the powerhouse. I hope that sounds clear…any other questions, you know where to find me 🙂

      Thanks again for reading and for sharing your thoughts and questions here!

  5. Thank you so much for that very in-depth reply! I can chew on that for weeks. ☺️

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