A common question I continue to get asked is “Can kids use ViPR?” says global master trainer Matt Truscott. Their next question is, “But they have to wait until 15 years old, right? That's when kids can lift.” This information has been circling the industry for some time now. Matt Truscott discusses a few principles in order for this misconception to be debunked.

Children and exercise

I don’t think there is a fitness professional alive who will make an argument that children should not be moving around, playing and exercising regularly. The benefits of some sort of exercise routine for a child (either in sport or a physical education program) are monumental and are as follows:

  • Establishing a level of fitness is necessary for hormonal response, so that children develop and regulate their own body’s natural chemical balances.
  • Movement enables a child’s brain to establish quicker and better ‘problem solving’ skills. In games and competition, children have to make split-second decisions, which help the brain to adapt and grow a greater ability to decipher information more quickly. There is also a sense of neural recruitment, where the body creates stronger and more neural pathways that are necessary for real-life situations.
  • Team sports teach children that life is not all ‘rainbows and unicorns’. In sports, as well as real life, not everyone can win. When multiple people put in for a job, not everyone gets hired. Team sports establish discipline, hard work and what it’s like to win and lose.     

    ViPR Kids 

    Photo credit: Pontus Wärnestål

Resistance training for children

Residence training increases:

  • strength
  • articular cartilage
  • bone density.

Limitations from the industry

So, if there are all these great benefits to exercise and resistance strength training, why has the industry made rules around when lifting becomes necessary? Here’s my opinion: not all resistance is equal. Traditional lifting is about muscle isolation and creating stress in muscle tissues so that they can rebuild. When muscles are stressed with the same repetitive stress, over time the tissue becomes less able to perform other movements that are outside of those patterns. This is OK for adults, as their bodies have fully matured; however, for children, this may not be wise. To create those strict, rigid lines of stress throughout a young body would be great for strength, but would start to create imbalances in the body as segments of the body will get stronger faster based on the focus of the protocol. These children still need to be able to move and explore their bodies in order to establish a sense of their attribute capacity (e.g., coordination, speed development, quickness, strength, power). Therefore, there really isn’t much use in putting these children into traditional-style resistance protocols when they will have soreness that is unnecessary.

Lastly, with regards to traditional resistance training, the movements require very strict form in a linear fashion in order to keep the quality of movement and prevent injury. This is not needed for children, as they are still figuring out how their bodies can and need to move. It would make more sense to put them into a protocol where they can explore their abilities and grow their abilities to move with load in a three-dimensional fashion.

Whole-body integration

Whole-body integration (WBI) is about using the entire body as one working unit. If this definition was analyzed, the squat with resistance is certainly a WBI movement. However, this movement is typically linear and children don’t live in a linear world now do they? So let’s take this WBI definition one step further and say, “Whole-body integration is using the entire body as one working unit in three-dimensional space, which is authentic to its design and human movement mechanics.”

So, based on that assessment of WBI, it would influence the entire prior listed attributes; however, it would also develop natural movements that are more applicable to life’s demands. Training this way could be done with a variety of tools, but this is exactly what ViPR was built for.

ViPR Kids

Photo credit: Pontus Wärnestål

ViPR with children

So, now to the point: if children need exercise and adding resistance to the body provides massive benefits for building up a better, long-lasting body and moving in three-dimensional space creates usable strength, then ViPR is a brilliant fit for children. ViPR was built for variation and exploration of movement patterns, which is exactly what kids do naturally. Also considering the versatility of the tool, ViPR can be easily put into any physical education program or even used as a part of a game. Using ViPR in an exercise protocol for a child is an awesome way for kids to begin to gain more coordination and strength, which will later turn into performance should they choose to utilize these acquired attributes in either sport or real life.

The next question that is raised with a skeptical face is, “OK, so you’re saying kids can lift and still remain safe. So what if a kid can’t lift a 4kg ViPR? Or what if the ViPR tool is too tall for a small child?” This all boils down to application. I am not here to say that children can only gain the benefits of using ViPR by lifting it. Anyone who is certified as a ViPR trainer/instructor knows that there are many applications to how the tool could be utilized. The thing that needs to be understood is that ViPR will be used (through rolling, dragging, tilting, shifting, lifting, flipping, etc.) to add some sort of resistance for the child to then be forced to move ViPR with their entire body. This could be different for a six year old versus a 13 year old. Children are no different than any other client in that each case is different. As fitness/health professionals, it is our job to decide what is possible/safe/recommended for their body. The human body is still the human body; therefore, limitations are defined by the client through either feedback voiced by the child or by how they move. If the movement patterns aren’t rhythmical and/or smooth, then the load to movement ratio is not appropriate for that individual.

ViPR Kids

Photo credit: Pontus Wärnestål


The fact that needs to be understood as an underlying issue is that kids already lift, shift and move objects anyway. I know that I am not the only one who had to take out the trash as a child, or help with the groceries, or help their father build a new fence or roof. The human body was made for these tasks and kids carry their books and toys to begin with. Shall we also address the fact that jungle gyms require children to lift themselves up and shift through space? Last time I checked, most adults couldn't go through the same movement patterns and be able to lift their entire bodies up onto a higher platform the way that children do. This is lifting, ladies and gentlemen. Let’s not look at lifting as the enemy for children; let’s look at the load and how it affects the body. ViPR is a great way for kids to build these mechanics and then use them later as they grow – but the most important principle to understand is that WBI is key.

ViPR global master trainer Matt Truscott and ViPR national trainer Aaron Barnett have recently developed a four-hour workshop program – ViPR Tykes and Teens. For further information on how to host a ViPR Tykes and Teens workshop for ViPR trainers in your facility, contact us for more details by emailing ViPR@fitpro.com