Core Conditioning Exercise Tips To Improve Pilates Exercise Technique

by | Apr 3, 2012 | Pilates, Pilates Exercises, Techniques & Teaching Tips | 0 comments

Abs vs. Thighs: The Pilates Hundred Exercise
with Feet in Straps or Leg Springs

This article is PART 4 OF 6 in the series of articles about Abs vs. Thighs. To effectively work the Abdominals for core conditioning it is optimal to target the core when the Quadriceps muscles are relaxed.

To help get the Quads relaxed, it is most effective to strengthen the opposing muscle groups, which would be the Glutes and Hamstrings.

In the first three articles in this series we focused on becoming more aware of using the core, relaxing the Quads, and starting to feel the backs of the legs activate to support Abdominal strengthening and improving core conditioning.

Now it’s time to progress that short-lever strength you’ve been working on to long-lever support.  Nothing changes… Except now the legs are straight.  This exercise can be done on the Reformer with the feet in the long straps, or on the Cadillac with the leg springs.  You can even do it during a Mat class by propping the feet up on a ball or magic circle.

The goal is to use the spring / support to keep the legs reaching away from the body, activating the Glutes and Hamstrings, while keeping the Quads and Rec. Fem. more relaxed.  Abs pull up and in to help keep the back to the mat, while the legs press against the springs to open the hips and lengthen the legs.

Exercise Tips for Abs vs. Thighs: Effective Core Conditioning on the Hundred

  • Start lying on your back in a “frog” position.  Knees to chest, feet in the straps, hips to head down on the mat, arms by the sides.
  • Inhale and exhale to pull the Abs in, squeeze the Glutes to extend the legs out, and curl the head and shoulders up to the 100’s position.
  • (legs should extend to an angle between 45 degrees and eye level.  Wherever you can maintain Ab support and keep the lower back against the mat.)
  • Inhale and pump the arms for 5, exhale and pump the arms for 5.
  • Continue breathing and pumping the arms for 10 breaths.
  • Throughout the exercise continue to reach the legs away against the resistance of the springs, while deepening the Ab curl.

Helpful Hints for The Hundred

  • IF you deepen the curl and the legs lift up while you curl, the Quads took over.  It’s instant feedback for incorrect muscle action!
  • IF you can maintain the legs reaching away AND deepen the curl, you are effectively working the Abs against the Psoas, and using your Hamstrings and Glutes effectively for support.  This should make it easier to curl into a better position, and will also make it easier to get to the optimal “eye-level” leg position without strain in your low back.

Help train your body to support underneath the legs while engaging the Abs by using this technique of spring/strap resistance.  Work the Glutes and Hamstrings for any core conditioning exercise that the legs are extended out and held up.  With time and practice, you’ll be able to work the backs of your legs with or without resistance when doing all your Ab work to enjoy improved core conditioning benefits.


If you missed the first 3 articles in this Abs vs. Thighs series, here are the links to review & read:

1st Article: Abs vs. Thighs: Which Muscles Are Really Working To Strengthen Your Core?

2nd Article: Abs vs. Thighs: Preparatory Exercises to Help Find the Abs & Relax the Hip Flexors for Effective Core Strengthening

3rd Article: Abs vs. Thighs: For Effective Core Conditioning – Strengthen the Hamstrings & Glutes


There are 2 more articles in the works for this Abs vs. Thighs series.  Keep your eyes peeled and stay-tuned for more info and easy exercise tips to improve your core and make the most of your Pilates training workouts…


Aliesa George: Over the past three decades, Aliesa George has helped assist people with their personal health journeys by sharing, teaching, and developing Pilates, Foot Fitness, and other Mind-Body programs.



  1. Abs vs Thighs | Pilates Scene - [...] there’s more from Aleisa where that came from….. 1st Article: Abs vs. Thighs: Which Muscles Are Really Working To…

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