The Fitness Zone

The lowdown on loaded: Unlocking ViPR’s true potential

Aug 09, 2022 | by Network

ViPR has been around for over a decade now and is still proving to be a relevant and dominant tool in the loaded movement training space. Steve Tongue shares the knowledge and inspiration to take your client’s ViPR workouts to the next level.

A curious member picks up ViPR, swings it around and quickly works out how to use it as a barbell, doing squats, bicep curls and overhead presses. Then, if nobody intervenes, it’s probably returned to its corner and left lonely and unloved. But ViPR deserves so much more than that.

ViPR is very effective and versatile in the right hands. As with many tools, however, it can only reach its true potential with knowledge and inspiration. Throughout this article, I am making the assumption that the user is vitality based and that they are already a habitual exerciser who is picking up ViPR for the first time or returning to ViPR after a break.

ViPR is an acronym, standing for vitality, performance and reconditioning: 

Vitality training is for the user who wants to create strength for active living and a level of fitness that provides positive energy and vigour. This is your member or client who is a general gym user or recreational sports enthusiast, and is inclusive of anybody who wants to enjoy an active lifestyle.

Performance training is for the user who wants to become more competitive – this could be in sports, in fitness or just to go after that new personal best. This applies to your more elite members and clients who like to push themselves, see positive gains and progress.

Reconditioning training is all about regaining full movement and function. This can be applicable to those who are new to – or returning to – exercise, returning from injury or just training to keep injury and pain at bay.

A good coach won’t just assign random exercises that look cool; they will specifically choose movements that have application and meaning to their client

So, with a plethora of options, how do I whittle down thousands of potential exercises to my 10 favourites for new or old users and beginners? The answer is that I create a set of criteria. A good ViPR coach won’t just assign random exercises that look cool; they will specifically choose movements that have application and meaning to their client, always asking the question, ‘Why am I using this particular movement?’ Introducing you to my criteria will help to give you an insight into how to make decisions about which movements to choose for your clients. It’s the thought process behind ViPR programming.

Programming with ViPR

Firstly, to understand ViPR programming you must know that, as a tool designed to improve human function, ViPR has fundamental pillars that keep it authentic to everyday life and human movement patterns:

Gravity into ground loading

Gravitational force always acts from above and we drive into the ground to oppose it. n Stretch to shorten. The body will always lengthen the muscles before they shorten which takes advantage of the elastic property of the myofascial system.

Multi-directional movement

We live in a 3D world and, therefore, we train our bodies in all three movement dimensions: sagittal, frontal and transverse.

Whole-body integrated movement

Physical tasks in the real world do not isolate specific joints or muscle groups but instead integrate the whole body as one effective unit.

Heart-rate variability

In life, during periods of sustained effort, functional tasks do not maintain a steady heart rate but instead create a change of pace and variety in intensity and, therefore, a variable heart rate. 

The second consideration when using ViPR as a training tool for the first time is that it’s useful to get full experience and insight into what the tool is capable of. A little taste of all the variations the whole package can give is more likely to whet the appetite for future participation. If you were offered a box of chocolates more than once, you wouldn’t go for the same chocolate each time – you would want to experience the variety and flavours the box has to offer. A good box of chocolates offers something for everybody. A good induction using ViPR for beginners should include the following:

Training for a variety of fitness components

This could include flexibility, balance, strength and CV fitness.

A variety of ViPR holds

Different ways to hold ViPR include On Tube, In Tube, Neutral, Offset, Reverse Grip and more. 

A variation of footprints and handprints

This refers to what the feet/hands are doing during an exercise and could include symmetrical, offset, wide, stepping, shuffling, running, reaching and more.

A variety of ViPR series

A ViPR series describes what ViPR is doing, for example, lifting, shifting, flipping, rolling and more.

A collectively balanced workout

The movements chosen for a first-time introduction to ViPR should train the whole body in balance and not, for example, continually load the posterior chain.

Allowing for successful execution with the option for a challenge

Not everybody has perfect balance and co-ordination, so using a tool like ViPR (which requires both) could be very difficult if introduced to complex and demanding movement patterns. Your aim is to make the user look good and feel good, so start with something simple and, if that appears too easy, be prepared to offer an additional challenge.

Ultimately, the whole experience with ViPR for the first time – and every time – should be varied, fun, achievable and with the option for an additional challenge. It should leave your client impressed, curious and hungry for more.

My top 10 ViPR exercises

As a ViPR coach, we have a responsibility to our clients and members to:

  • coach good movement, which has rhythm, flow and whole-body integration
  • share knowledge and expertise, including what to do, how it should look/feel and why it’s good for us
  • provide motivation and encouragement to help others look and feel good.

Here are my top 10 ViPR exercises for beginners. This list can be used as an all-round workout or you can handpick exercises you feel are most relevant to your client. Each exercise is followed up with the progression for that extra challenge if required.

EXERCISEPROGRESSION/ CHALLENGEROLE OF ViPR 
1ViPR Stir The Pot+ ViPR Supported Stork StanceTo reduce load on the spine and facilitate a long reach
2ViPR Woodchop+ Sagittal Pivot StepTo create momentum in rotation
3ViPR Warrior Lunge+ Forward Lunge/ Backward LungeTo increase load on the shoulder girdle and torso
4ViPR Cylinder Squat+ Side StepTo challenge reactive balance and proprioception
5ViPR Offset Shoulder Press+ Opposite Side Knee RaiseTo provide asymmetrical load on the shoulder girdle and torso
6ViPR Thread The Needle+ External Rotation StepTo provide momentum in the sagittal plane
7ViPR Shovel Drill+ Side StepTo provide momentum in the frontal plane
8ViPR Down Ice Skater + ViPR Rotational ReachTo act as an external distance cue
9ViPR Sagittal Flip+ Reverse FlipTo provide load and distance cue
10ViPR Halo+ Side StepTo act as a driver for spinal motion

Whether you’re new to ViPR or returning to it as an old friend, use these exercises as inspiration to rediscover the capabilities of such an effective training tool and be inspired by its power to improve movement within yourself and others. Go ViPR!

This article is reproduced with permission of fitpro UK.

Stephen Tongue

The Head of ViPR Education, Stephen was first introduced to and trained on ViPR by founder Michol Dalcourt back in 2011. Stephen’s passion for movement training and success as a freelance personal trainer and presenter led to him joining the ViPR Master Trainer Team at FitPro in 2013. Stephen has remained a part of the team, as well as picking up master trainer positions with other big fitness brands such as TRX, PowerPlate and MyZone. Stephen has regularly created content for national and industry magazines, news bulletins, blogs and social media.

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Network is an education subscription service that offers a broad range of upskilling courses for fitness and wellness professionals. Established in 1987, Network has played a pivotal role in the continual evolution of the fitness industry.

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