The 100-Up Exercise is a simple, effective drill that helps you improve your running technique and your running performance simultaneously. You can practice it indoors or outdoors. It is also very helpful as an injury recovery aid to maintain fitness and build strength while recovering.
This simple exercise which has basic (minor) and advanced (major) versions is one of the easiest methods for improving running form while building strength at the same time. Every runner needs to learn this simple drill!
The 100-Up Exercise was discovered by Walter George in 1874 who set a number of world records in various distances. He discovered the exercise while working as an apprentice with very limited time to train. The drill is used to improve both running form and speed.
Walter practiced the 100-Up Exercise daily. After only two years of doing this exercise, he became the fastest amateur miler in England. After five years, he became a world record holder for multiple distances up to 10 miles.
This exercise is very easy to learn and only takes a few minutes to complete. There are two videos below and both demonstrate how to do the drill. The drill is best practiced in bare feet to provide natural feedback and develop foot strength but you don't have to be a barefoot runner to enjoy its many benefits!
The first video quickly and effectively demonstrates how easy it is to learn this exercise. Text instructions are below video.
1. Stand in bare feet with a straight posture. Ensure head is over hips and hips over ankles. Keep body relaxed and focus on technique - not speed.
2. Minor version - lift knee to hip height and drive arm back. Femur (upper leg) is parallel with ground and hands are above hips, arms at a right angle. Hold briefly for about one second (essential for effectiveness), before lowering down. Do the same with other leg. Repeat until you have completed 50 with one leg and 50 with the other. It's that simple. Note: Stop whenever you can no longer maintain the correct posture. Strength comes with practice.
3. Major version - begin in the same manner as with the Minor. Increase speed but keep focus on form. Feet stay in the same place. Find your rhythm and again build up to doing 50 on each leg.
4. Try it for 30 days and watch how your form improves and also your speed.
Note: Practice the Minor until you are comfortable doing 100 of them and it's important to pause briefly with each leg lift. Pay attention to the movements as you do them to help improve your running form and consequently your running performance. Move on to the Major only when you can still maintain the proper form at a faster pace. You can also alternate between the two versions as needed.
The next video is from an article by the NY Times and Christopher McDougall (Born to Run). In the video, Walter George is accredited as the genius who discovered how to run better, not by training more but by training better! McDougal refers to the 100-Up Exercise as a foolproof technique to run perfectly and he named it: "the lost secret of running. " In the article, McDougall himself reports faster racing times and a personal best using the 100-Up Exercise without a serious training schedule.
Back to top of 100-Up Exercise
Return to Barefoot Running