How to achieve your exercise goals throughout Ramadan
The holiest month of the Islamic calendar is almost here. Let’s take a look at how you can maintain your exercise goals whilst celebrating.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and the holiest of months. In 2022, Ramadan begins on 2nd April and finishes on 1st May. During Ramadan, Muslims fast between dawn and sunset. In addition to fasting from food and water, Ramadan is a time to abstain from bad habits, invest time with the community, and aid people in need. It is a month to create and focus on developing good mental and physical habits and for many, this includes achieving personal health and fitness goals. Although, for those practising, it’s important to recognise that your routine completely changes during Ramadan, and this can limit how often or how vigorously you can work out.
When it comes still meeting your exercise goals and staying healthy, one of the main challenges Muslims face during Ramadan is taking in enough calories, micronutrients, and macronutrients during their eating window to provide enough energy for the entire day. Abstaining from food and water during the day can also make exercising feel more challenging as there is less energy to fuel your activity and exercise itself can make fasting harder as it increases thirst and hunger.
However, it is still possible to achieve some of your health and exercise goals during Ramadan. In this blog, we’ll look at how Muslims can achieve their exercise goals during Ramadan while making sure they celebrate and respect the religious aspect of this month.
If your exercise goal is: To lose weight during Ramadan
Getting enough calories during the 7-8 hour eating window in Ramadan is difficult. If you are already trying to lose weight, you may see this as the perfect opportunity to speed up your weight loss, although, it’s important to make sure you do it safely and are eating enough calories and macronutrients. Losing weight too fast is unsustainable, and can be dangerous – malnutrition, decreased muscle mass, and imbalanced electrolytes are all some of the risks of losing weight too fast.
How to lose weight safely in Ramadan
Smoothies and protein shakes are a great way to get vitamins and macronutrients if you find yourself struggling to eat enough whole foods.
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.
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.
If your exercise goal is: To build muscle during Ramadan
Building muscle is hard enough outside of Ramadan and doing so when fasting is extra challenging. This is simply due to the lack of calories being consumed, the reduced training opportunities and the lack of energy to train from fasting. For example, the optimal time to train would be during your eating window, but there may be limited opportunity to do this once you’ve eaten, slept, and prayed.
Another challenge is that progressive overload is key for muscle growth, but it puts a lot of stress on the body. Fasting itself is strenuous on the body too, so trying to build muscle during this time can really take its toll on the body.
While you may have to put this exercise goal on hold for a few weeks during Ramadan, there are steps you can take to prevent muscle loss so that you are in a strong position to build muscle when Ramadan ends:
- Make sure you are eating enough protein and enough calories. Protein shakes with fruit and nut butter are a great way to get calories in if you struggle to eat enough during your eating window.
- Continue to weight train, 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, bench press, than 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.
When to work out during Ramadan
During the first few days of Ramadan, your body will be adjusting to fasting. Where possible, pause or step back your workouts during this time to allow your body to adapt to this new routine.
Physiologically speaking, the best time to train would be during your eating window between sunset and sunrise.
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. 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 reach a personal best!
Ramadan workout examples
During Ramadan, you’ll want to drop the intensity of your weight training (choose weights you can lift around for around 20 reps) and focus on building a stronger mind-muscle connection.
You can adjust your existing workouts, or try these to make sure you’re hitting every muscle group
Upper Body Workout
- Barbell shoulder press 4 x 15 (rest at least 1 min between sets)
- Barbell row 4 x 15 (rest at least 1 min between sets)
- Chest Press machine 4 x 15 (rest at least 1 min between sets)
- Lateral Raise 3 x 12 (rest at least 30 seconds between sets)
- Bicep curl machine 3 x 12 (rest at least 30 seconds between sets)
- Tricep pushdown 3 x12 (rest at least 30 seconds between sets)
Lower Body Workout
- Barbell squat 4 x 20 (rest at least 1 min between sets)
- Leg Press 4 x 20 (rest at least 1 min between sets)
- Lying Leg Curl 3 x 12 (rest at least 30 seconds between sets)
- Leg Extension 3 x 12 (rest at least 30 seconds between sets)
- Calf Press 3 x12 (rest at least 30 seconds between sets)
- Hip Adductor 3 x 12 (rest at least 30 seconds between sets)
- Hip Abductor 3 x12 (rest at least 30 seconds between sets)
- Home Workout
You may not always be able to make it to the gym during Ramadan. This workout can be done at home with no equipment
Complete 5 rounds of this with at least a minute rest in between rounds.
- 20 air squats
- 10 reverse lunges on each side
- 20 leg raises
- 10 press ups
- 20 crunches
- 30-second plank
Regardless of your personal exercise goals during Ramadan, our friendly team are always on hand to help. To learn more, simply pay our team and they’ll be happy to walk through an exercise routine to suit your individual needs!
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