Sometimes, it pays to do less: fewer sets and reps, lower intensities, slower movements. This can help recruit small, stabilizer muscles, improve mobility, and balance the autonomic nervous system, says Michol Dalcourt, the San Diego-based creator of the ViPR, founder of the Institute of Motion, and member of the Equinox Health Advisory Board.
What’s more, doing less allows you to focus on form and precision at a whole new level. “Even the simplest actions require well-timed coordination between many parts of the body,” says Matt Berenc, CSCS, director of the Equinox Fitness Training Institute in Beverly Hills.
The below workout is the epitome of doing less for greater benefits. For optimal results, do each move slowly and perform the routine at least 3 times per week.
Lie face-up with arms extended toward ceiling, directly over shoulders, and knees bent 90 degrees over hips, calves parallel to floor. Keeping shoulders down, feet flexed, and low back pressed into the floor to protect your spine, engage your core and slowly extend right arm and left leg away from you over the course of 4 seconds. Tap heel to floor and quickly return to center. Immediately repeat on the opposite side with the left arm and right leg for 1 rep. Perform 6 reps.
Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulders, toes turned slightly out. Bend your elbows and clasp hands in front of chest. Sit back and slowly bend your knees until thighs are just below parallel to the floor over the course of four seconds, then quickly rise up to the starting position. Perform 10 to 12 reps.
Get in high plank position with hands just under or slightly wider than shoulders, with body forming a straight line from head to heels. Pull shoulders down away from ears and engage the core, back, and glutes. Focus on maintaining maximal tension throughout the body. Over the course of 4 seconds, bend elbows, letting them flare diagonally from body, squeeze shoulder blades together, and lower torso toward the floor. Pause at the bottom, then forcefully push through hands to quickly drive body up to the starting position. Perform 10 to 12 reps.
In a tall standing position, lift right knee as high as possible, then hinge at the hips, reaching right hand toward floor and extending right leg behind you so it's parallel to the floor, keeping a long spine and extending your left arm out and back. At the bottom of the move, rotate your torso to the left, then pause. Return to start and repeat on opposite side. That's 1 rep. Perform 10 reps.
Sit on floor and place elbows on two sturdy chairs, side tables, ottomans or workout benches. Bend knees 90 degrees and lift feet off floor. Press elbows into benches to engage back muscles and push chest forward as you pull knees into chest, then return to start. Perform 8 to 10 reps.