Keeping up with your fitness goals and fasting at the same time can certainly be tough.
Not eating or drinking during the day puts your body under more strain than usual during the day, so you’ll want to be extra careful with your workouts when Ramadan starts on Saturday.
That’s why Mohsin Hussain, assistant gym manager at PureGym Birmingham, has put together some tips and exercise routines specifically for the month ahead.
Islam teaches us it is an act of worship to look after our bodies. During Ramadan, how we look after our bodies can look different to the rest of the year.
‘There is a greater need for rest during the fasting month,’ he said, ‘and a lesser ability to focus on volume or intensity with our training.
‘Use this time to listen to and become more in tune with your body, and take care of your mind – this will benefit you all year round.’
For those looking to build muscle
If your fitness goal has been to get more swole, Mohsin says you need to try and keep getting enough protein during your eating window, recommending protein shakes with fruit and nut butters.
‘Continue to weight train,’ he added, ‘but lower the weight and increase the reps. This will help to preserve your muscle while avoiding too much stress on the body.
‘Focus more on compound exercises like squats, deadlifts and bench presses than on isolation exercises. Compound exercises train more muscles per exercise, so it’s easier to work out more of your body in less exercise.
‘Full-body workouts can also help you to hit all the muscle groups while spending less time in the gym. This is great if you’re finding keeping up activity levels challenging during Ramadan.
‘Focus on building mind-muscle connection and perfecting your form, rather than lifting as heavy as you can.’
For those looking to lose weight
You have to be especially careful if you’re trying to lose weight when Ramadan rolls around.
Again, Mohsin recommends protein shakes and smoothies to help maintain a good level of vitamins and macronutrients.
‘Many families celebrate Ramadan by eating tasty, but high-caloric fried foods,’ he explained. ‘Enjoy these in moderation, and then consume protein and calorie-dense foods, fruit, and vegetables to ensure you’re getting a good balance of macro and micronutrients.
‘Aim to keep up your exercise routine, but bear in mind you will need to reduce the intensity of your workouts while fasting. If you find keeping up your training is too difficult, focus on walks or gentle exercises like yoga.
‘Resistance training can help to prevent muscle loss when in a calorie deficit.
‘And get enough sleep. Not sleeping enough can impact hunger hormones, which makes it harder to resist large volumes of high-calorie foods during your eating window.’
When is a good time to work out during Ramadan?
Mohsin says it’s a good idea to take it easy during those first few days of fasting because your body will need to adjust.
‘Physiologically speaking,’ he went on, ‘the best time to train would be during your eating window between sunset and sunrise. This is when your body will be refuelled from Iftar, and you’ll be able to drink water, as well as refuel after. Most PureGym’s are open 24 hours a day and will be open during this time.
‘However, it may not always be possible to train during this time; this is when your body would usually be asleep, so it can be difficult to get the energy to train, especially as the Taraweeh prayer requires a lot of energy.
‘Training an hour or so before Iftar is also a good option, as it means you can drink water and eat once you’ve finished working out. You’ll be hungry and dehydrated at this point, so step back the intensity – now is not the time for high-intensity cardio sessions or trying to get a personal best.’
Mohsin has also put together three different workouts recommendations…
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