“Most people will agree with me that discreet exercise or training is beneficial and conducive to a healthy existence and long life. A man or woman who engages himself or herself exclusively to work or study, shunning all bodily exercise and pleasure, is but qualifying for martyrdom, in later years, to one or other of the ills to which flesh is heir.” W.G.George
In 100-up I wrote how pleased I was to have come across W.G.George’s 100-up exercise to help me develop a good running form from the start (haven’t actually got to the running bit yet!).
Since then I have read George’s book “The 100-up Exercise“. George developed his exercise as a means of keeping fit during the long working hours (7am – 9pm) when he was a chemistry apprentice. He viewed the exercise as
“a natural system of home-training exercise to be used as an adjunct to, or a substitute for, outdoor training and recreation, the 100-up Exercise should be known and practised by all.”
A study of the 100-up Exercise from a scientific point of view shows that it brings into play the entire muscular system, without creating an undue strain on any one particular set of muscles, organ or limb. The heart and the lungs are reasonably exercised, superfluous tissue is gradually reduced, and muscles are built up in form and strength by a course of natural, not forced, development.
The exercise is unique in its simplicity, reliable in its efficiency, and is a recreative pleasure. It is inexpensive (requiring no apparatus), is easily learned, and is lasting in its benefits.”
George graded his exercise to suit all ages and constitutions. NaturalRunningStore.com’s video shows the 100-up Minor and Major Grades but in George’s system there is a preliminary practice to prepare the leg muscles for the 100-up exercise proper.
From my yoga teaching I know that we all tend to favour one leg over the other. I favour my left but how much has only become apparent recently. A few months ago I changed the layout of our computer workstation. I raised the height of the screen and keyboard using piles of books and boxes so that we could use the p.c. standing rather than sitting. It’s hard work (standing at the p.c. to work that is not raising the p.c. on piles of books)! A significant difference in the muscle tone between the two legs is now clearly visible. Although I thought that I stand squarely on two legs actually I must be taking more of the weight on the left leg. Therefore I decided to incorporate George’s 30-up single leg lifts as part of my daily 100-up challenge in an effort to strengthen the right leg. Personally I am finding the preparatory practice more challenging than the 100-up Minor!
Here is how to do the 30-up preliminary exercise:
- Stand with your feet parallel and 8 inches apart. Allow your arms to hang, relaxed, by your sides.
- Raise one knee to hip height (or as high as you can but no higher than hip height).
- Place the foot back down on the floor, in its original position, ensuring that the ball of the foot lands first rather than the heel.
- Repeat steps 2 and 3 with the same leg up to 30 times.
- Repeat the exercise with the other leg.
As you perform the exercise ensure that you keep:
- the body upright
- the legs straight
- the feet parallel (i.e. not turned out or in)
- correct form. You should finish your practice as soon as you are unable to maintain the correct form.
- from rushing, straining or over-exerting
Throughout his book George emphasises the importance of maintaining perfect form and avoiding strain or over-exhaustion stating:
“Hurried or injudicious training, or fast work while the system is unprepared for it, induces breakdown and failure. On the other hand, slow, well-considered, steady practice is never injurious, while breakdowns are practically unknown among those who start their training slowly, and who gradually increase distance, time or pace as the heart, lungs, and the muscular system throughout grow accustomed to the extra strain, and revel in it.”
The 100-up exercise requires no equipment or special clothes and only a little space. It takes only a few minutes of time and can even be split into smaller chunks that you can do at odd moments in your day (which is what George himself did during his apprenticeship).
“Opportunities occur to the majority of us to transform moments of idleness into a lifetime of robust health.”
All quotes from “The 100-UP EXERCISE” by W.G.George.