PICK UP THAT VIPER !!!

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Pick up the viper on the gym floor!!! No not the venomous snake, but this functional, weighted cylinder that’s built for strength training. The benefits of functional training are huge; it’s an industry buzz-phrase that gets plenty of air time, but boiled down, it just means ‘exercises that are like the everyday movements’. The VIPR (a catchy acronym for Vitality, Performance and Reconditioning) is an excellent way to access this, with workouts that help to develop strength, build tone, hone balance, improve coordination, and intensify calorie burn. This post looks at why you might want to use it in your workouts…

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A) WHAT IS IT?
Functional training involves bodyweight exercises that help to teach your body to handle it’s own weight, placing emphasis on multi-joint movements rather than trying to isolate a specific muscle. The result of this is to strengthen the core muscles (hips, abs and back) & lift your ‘body awareness’, posture and balance by adding stability to the musculoskeletal system. A byproduct of improving muscular balance is to help prevent injuring more fragile parts of your body too, as well as using more of your existing muscle mass whilst exercising which promotes quicker calorie burn, more weight loss, and therefore improves the composition of your body!

B) WHAT DO YOU GET?
The results are much as you’d see from heavy weight training: more strength, better tone, improved stamina… However, the big difference is that functional training doesn’t need you to deliver ‘maximal power’. Instead, you just carry out the movements you’d otherwise make during regular, everyday activities (for example, the squat you’d perform to pick something up from the floor, reaching atop the book case, climbingthe stairs etc). It schools the body to move on multiple planes (not just rotationally, but up and down, as well as front, back and side-to-side).

C) THE VIPR:
The VIPR is a cylindrical rubber tube of varying weight, with three handles (one central, two at shoulder-width) and is a seriously versatile instrument for the pursuit of functional training. There are a supposed 9,000 types of exercise you can do with it, which is handy because they cost about £200 (c.$310) for the 12kg weight – that’s 2p per exercise! It’s also yet another fun piece of equipment that adds variation and a new challenge to your training – and sometimes, that newness can be everything when it comes to motivating yourself to get on with it! Here are four ideas for Vipr exercises:

1) PLANK THROWS (as below picture)
i. Start in a plank position
ii. Place the ViPR to the left side of you. With your right hand grab it and pull it across to your right side, and all along maintain a strong core.
iii. Repeat on the other sides.

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2) BENT OVER ROWS (as below picture)
i. Start by bending forward at the hips until your body is at a circa 45 degrees angle, maintaining soft knees (not locked). Make sure you have a neutral spine, keep your shoulders down and back, and open up your chest.
ii. Holding the ViPR in a neutral grip, let it hang below you and then slowly and in a controlled manner ‘row’ the ViPR up to your chest. Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top, but avoid tensing / shrugging your shoulders.
iii. Then return to the starting position. Repeat.

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3) FRONT SQUAT TO OVERHEAD PRESS (as below picture)
i. Hold the ViPR a shoulder width apart and with an overhand grip, bring your elbows forward ensuring your palms are facing upward. The ViPR should be resting on you anterior deltoids. With legs a shoulder width apart, sit down and back, as though you’re sitting down into a chair. Ensure to squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Deeper squats are fabulous at really exhausting the lower body, but are not recommended for those with weak knees!
ii. Keep the weight on the heels and try not to extend the knees beyond your toes.
iii. Keep you abs tight, roll your shoulders back and stand tall, maintaining a straight back.
iv. Exhale with exertion.
v. Keep a soft bend in the knees when you push up. This will keep the work in your legs and not your knee joints. As you come to standing position perform an overhead shoulder press.

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4) BURPEES (as below picture)
i. Standing tall, come into a full squat (read how to above).
ii. Then come onto your toes, and lower the ViPR to the ground. Ensuring your hands are directly under your shoulders.
iii. With both feet, simultaneously jump back into a plank position (hands extended)
iv. Finally jump back in and up into a squat position. Repeat

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