Many clients have fitness goals that involve either increasing muscle strength or size. Many clients will want to achieve both goals simultaneously, so it is helpful to know how to design exercise programs with ViPR to achieve those outcomes. ViPR master trainer Pete McCall shows you how.

Stimulating the physiological adaptations of muscle strength and size requires imposing two specific types of demand on muscle: mechanical and metabolic. Mechanical refers to the structures of the muscle, specifically the contractile element of the actin-myosin proteins and the elastic component of fascia and connective tissue. Metabolic demand is the energy a muscle expends to generate a force. Whether you are lifting 20kg for a few reps, 6kg for many reps or 12kg for explosive lifts using ViPR, you can create both the mechanical and metabolic fatigue necessary to stimulate improvements in both strength and size. Type II muscle fibers are responsible for increasing muscle size and elevating force output. Exercises that create metabolic or mechanical overload will also recruit higher levels of type II muscle fibers. ViPR can be used to create both mechanical and metabolic overload if you want to.

Here are some strategies that allow you to use ViPR as an effective tool for increasing both muscle strength and size.

Moving until momentary fatigue

Muscle strength and size improve when the type II, fast-twitch fibers are involved in a muscle contraction. Muscle motor units are recruited based on size; for most types of muscle action, the smaller type I motor units are recruited first: as they fatigue, the larger type II motor units are activated to continue the force production. Exercises with heavier ViPR tools can require greater recruitment of type II fibers in order to generate the muscle forces required to move and control the load. Dynamic movements with a lighter ViPR for a high number of repetitions can fatigue the type I motor units, leading to recruitment of the larger type II fibers. Lighter weights can stimulate recruitment and hypertrophy of the type II fibers if enough repetitions are performed to achieve momentary muscle fatigue; however, when using this method, monitor a client’s form and stop the set as soon as they can no longer maintain good exercise technique.

Lifting a weight until momentary muscle fatigue (the inability to perform another rep) creates both mechanical and metabolic overload. Metabolic overload yields high levels of blood lactate, while mechanical overload damages muscle protein which results in an acute elevation of muscle-growing hormones. Metabolic overload increases the levels of blood lactate, which is related to elevated levels of growth hormone (GH). Mechanical overload increases production of both GH and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) to repair the proteins damaged by exercise. Using a heavier ViPR allows you to achieve metabolic and mechanical fatigue in fewer reps, while a lighter ViPR allows you to link a number of different movements into one sequence to achieve momentary fatigue.

Here are a few different techniques for using repetition to create momentary muscle fatigue.

Reps for time

Set a timer for a specific amount of time and challenge a client to perform as many repetitions of an exercise as possible in that time limit. Start with 20 seconds and increase in five-second intervals. Record the number of reps performed and challenge clients to meet or exceed that number with each set for a particular exercise. 

Try: Uppercuts 10kg

Linking movement patterns

The versatility of ViPR allows you to combine many different movements into one pattern. Combining movements increases the amount of muscle mass involved in an exercise, which can be an effective technique for achieving momentary fatigue. You can be as creative as you want with developing different movement patterns but remember the three movement cues: move from the hips, maintain a long spine and reach with the scapula. 

Try: Lateral lunge with uppercut to crossover lunge with shift 10kg

Drop set

Bodybuilders have used drop sets for years as a method of increasing muscle size. Performing reps until momentary fatigue, then dropping the weight before continuing, will challenge a muscle to produce the energy to keep working: the longer a muscle works, the greater the metabolic demand. Performing a high number of reps keeps a muscle under tension for a longer period of time, resulting in greater mechanical damage to the involved tissue. ViPR is an exercise tool that easily allows a user to execute this time-proven strategy for muscle growth. 

Try: Transverse lunge with shovel lift 16kg – 10kg – 6kg 

Explosive actions

Powerful explosive muscle actions are another way to recruit a significant amount of the larger type II muscle fibers. One of the benefits of ViPR is that it is designed to be thrown (warning: this requires an appropriate space), allowing a user to accelerate a mass completely through the concentric (shortening) phase of muscle action. Compare a traditional barbell snatch to an overhead snatch throw with ViPR. The barbell lift requires a lifter to decelerate the weight as they sink into the catch phase, whereas the ViPR overhead snatch throw allows a user to accelerate ViPR completely through the range of motion to the point of release. For best results, explosive movements should be performed for only a limited number of reps at the highest level of muscle force output possible.

Here are three different techniques for using explosive movements with ViPR.


Regardless of which throwing pattern you use, coach your client to accelerate ViPR all of the way through the movement. Focus on driving the legs into the ground to maximize the forces through the upper body.

Try: Overhead snatch throw


Flips are great for connecting hip strength with upper-body movements. Cue clients to push their feet into the floor to help generate the forces required to explosively move ViPR. Lateral flips use the upper and lower body together to generate force. Rotate from the hips and keep the spine long while exploding through the movement.

Try: Lateral Flips 


ViPR swings are a great way to combine strength training with coordination. Swings challenge an individual to rapidly create muscle tension to move ViPR and then shut those muscles down quickly to be able to move into the catch position. 

Try: Swing to cylinder lift


These are just a few ways to use ViPR to create the metabolic or mechanical fatigue required to stimulate physiological change in the body.