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Breakdown the 100

Updated: Oct 22, 2021

What is the Pilates 100?

  • The 100 is the exercise that warms us up and get us ready for our practice!

  • It shows up in the beginning of both the Mat and Reformer orders.

  • It should be done in every class. :)

  • It is part of the Basic 5 exercises, so it is meant to be practiced even in your first Pilates session.

  • It has a ton of variations to ensure every human can do it and every practitioner stays engaged throughout their years of practice.

Exercise: Pump your arms up and down while inhaling for a 5 count and exhaling for a 5 count.

It seems super simple when you read that, doesn't it?

  • The 100 has some hidden elements in it, which makes it intense and engaging - no matter what level you are working in. These hidden elements are the Pilates Fundamentals.

Pilates is built on seven Fundamentals: Breath, Shoulder Stability, Upper Ab Curl, Neutral Spine, Abdominal Engagement, Pelvic Stability, and Pelvic Mobility.

*You can find more information and pictures here: Pilates Fundamentals

Which Fundamentals are in the 100?

Let's do our Breakdown!

  • Breath - INHALE for 5, EXHALE for 5

  • Shoulder Stability - Pump your arms up and down (pumping comes from your back)

  • Upper Ab Curl - if you choose a variation with the upper ab curl

  • Abdominal Engagement - Pulling your deepest abdominal muscles in while you breathe and pump your arms (while you keep your legs in the air, if you choose that variation)

  • Pelvic Stability - Keeping your pelvis stable while doing all the things (no matter which variation you try)

Wow, that's pretty amazing!

I provided a bunch of 100 variations pictures below that could be used as a guide.

100 - Head Down; Legs in Tent position

100 - Upper Ab Curl; Legs in Tent position

100 - Head Down; Legs in Table Top position

100 - Upper Ab Curl; Legs in Table Top position

100 - Head Down; 1 Leg in Tent position; 1 Leg in Table Top position

100 - Head Down; Legs at 90 degrees'ish

100 - Upper Ab Curl; Legs at 90 degrees'ish

100 - Upper Ab Curl; Legs lower than 90 degrees

*the lower the legs the harder the 100 becomes

**not showing head down because it will make it harder to protect the low back with legs extended

100 - Advanced variation.

Upper Ab Curl; Feet at about eye-height or ~6" off the ground

100 - Advanced variation

A look at how to "get into" the 100 for the Advanced version

Arms over chest, legs long

Inhale. On your exhale, lift into Upper Ab Curl as feet lift up to eye height.

Start your inhale 5 count....

Exhale 5 count...


Tight Hamstrings? Try your 90 degree leg variation with flexed feet.


Here's a look at how you can do the 100 using a Barrel to help with Fundamental: Upper Ab Curl [showing Balanced Body Arc lite as the "barrel"].


Increase the intensity of the 100 using a Barrel by extending one leg

*this also helps prep you for Teaser


How about a Magic Circle variation to help engage the midline and inner thighs?

Magic Circle is between inner ankle bones.

*Moving the Magic Circle to the outside of the ankles will work the midline and outer thighs.


No Barrel? No problem! A small ball can give feedback and help with abdominal engagement. Placing the small ball between the shoulder blades (higher/lower pending body) can put the body into enough of a curl to help feel the fire during the 100.

100 with Small Ball; Legs in Tent position

100 with Small Ball; One Leg Up

100 with Small Ball; Ball between the Knees

100 using Leg Springs on a Tower [more advanced due to spring tension]

I hope you enjoyed the 100 Breakdown and all the variations that are available for different body types!!


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