Chuc mung nam moi! It’s a new year, so why not start it off well? To get the best results from your exercise efforts in 2017, it is extremely important to understand the basic components of fitness and the principles of programme design.
All too often I see people making a lot of effort but not getting the results for all their hard work. To get the best results, trainees must follow the seven scientific principles of effective exercise programming: consistency, progression, balance, variety, specificity, overload and recovery. Thankfully, exercisers can accomplish all these principles with ease in most gyms around Saigon.
Here are some clear simple guidelines on how to choose the best type, intensity and recovery to get the best results for 2017.
The Best Types of Exercise
In general, the best type of exercise is walking or running. Our anatomy is specifically designed for this function and they are the most common actions we perform in everyday life.
However, any cardio exercise is good as long as it is performed at the correct intensities, as I’ll explain later on. Here are some of my top picks for ways to stay fit in Ho Chi Minh City.
Vietnamese aerobics classes
You’ve probably noticed them before, and they have seemed pretty silly and strange. On inspection, however, the movements are very good for mobilizing joints and providing a low impact cardiovascular workout. Plus, you’ll be immersing yourself in an aspect of Vietnamese culture most Westerners write off when really we should be taking notice. Be sure to check out Tao Dan Park (Truong Dinh, D1) and Le Van Tam Park (Hai Ba Truong, D1) to start your workout routine
X-Rock Climbing on 75 Nguyen Dinh Chieu in District 3 is one good option, and be sure to check out Push Climbing (188/1 Nguyen Van Huong, D2) as well.
Check out Jump Arena Trampoline Park Vietnam in District 2 to get your jump on
Including football, touch rugby, ultimate Frisbee, baseball, basketball, netball, Aussie-rules football, American flag football, cricket, tennis, badminton and running and cycling groups. You can check out a full list of these Saigon’s clubs here.
Sports and activities are the best kind of cardio exercise because they are more like “play”, include a good social element, are mentally stimulating and generally include multi-directional movements. Pick your favourite one and go for it!
Whole body multi-joint exercises are best for fat loss: they use more energy and stimulate more fat-burning hormones than cardio. Let’s face the facts – the best bodies and most functional human beings on the planet are gymnasts. They never use machines or lift weights; they get their amazing physiques solely with bodyweight exercises.
And good news – the fitness trend is exploding in Vietnam! New health clubs and fitness studios are opening all over the city. In the past four years alone over 30 major bodyweight facilities have opened. Here are a few you should definitely check out:
- Star Fitness (at the Manor, 91 Nguyen Huu Canh) is one of the first clubs in Saigon and still one of the best in terms of service and atmosphere.
- Elite Fitness are the new breed of facilities opening in Saigon and now New York Health Club are joining the fray.
More than anything, you should be focusing on moving your body. Movement always beats equipment! If you’re looking to get the best results and improve your fitness, look into programmes like MetaFit and gymnastics. Specialist health and fitness gyms Evolve Fitness (61 Nam Ky Khoi, D1) and Body Expert Systems (Hem 215B19A Nguyen Van Huong, D2) are leading the way with these programmes and exercise modalities.
The Best Intensity of Exercise
Once you’ve chosen your exercises you will get different results depending on the intensity you bring to your workout. Moving at the correct intensity will make your body more efficient at burning fat or producing the correct hormones that will help you lose weight. Both types of intensities need to be alternated to get the best results:
Simply move! Your body should use fat as a fuel for your low-intensity workout. The easiest way to do this? Increase your steps per day. Walking is extremely good for us and should be done every day. If you’re going to run for more than 30 minutes, do so at an easy pace. This will not overstress your system and it will teach your body to utilize fat as a fuel. Local Vietnamese movement classes would be perfect for this. And have you checked out HCMC’s cycling, walking and running groups? Here are a few I recommend:
- The Thanh Pho Ho Chi Minh Walking for Fitness Meetup is a great way to meet new people and stay fit at the same time.
- Join the Saigon Hash House Harriers, Ho Chi Minh City’s local running group. They group events and provide members with tips and newsletters about running in HCM.
Burn more belly fat with sprint intervals. Studies have shown that high-intensity interval training is the best for losing belly fat. MetaFit and ZUU classes are the best options if you want a structured class. Or you can always play one of the sports I mentioned earlier; these require a lot of short explosive movement.
Train with a high volume: perform a high number of reps and work for the “pump”. This is a great example of a body weight exercise.
Use very short rest periods: this will require more maximal effort and produce more Human Growth Hormone and lactic acid – the belly-fat-burning hormones you want.
Use the highest weight possible for the rep range: you must work towards failure. If the weight is too light you will not achieve the principle of overload and won’t stress your body enough to create change.
See you at the gym!
About the author: Phil Kelly is a Master Trainer on three continents. In his long and distinguished career he has helped thousands of clients through his work with universities, professional sports teams, national associations, special populations, military personnel, prominent health clubs and weight management organisations. He possesses the highest international qualifications and is an specialist in fat loss and sports nutrition, personal fitness and body transformation.
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