Happy Blessed Ramadan to those who are fasting. This year, is going to be different, because for most of us, we will be spending all our time at home. But it can be a really positive thing, because that means more time with your family, more healthier home cooked meals and also more time to do your workouts.
In encouraging all of you to continue to stay active at home, I’ve put together a 30-Day Workout Playlist for you on my YouTube channel. Click here. A lot of you have also asked questions such as how frequent should I work out, how long should the session be, what exercises to do and when is the best time to workout.
So I’m going to share with you 7 tips on how to workout during Ramadan, which can help with maintaining your fitness routine during this holy month.
1) Understand your goal and be realistic
Let’s be realistic, during the month of Ramadan, your goal is to try and maintain your current fitness level and lean muscle tissue. So this is NOT the time to be trying out crazy workouts.
For those of you who are already exercising regularly, you want to continue your exercises at a lower intensity and shorter duration in order to prevent muscle lose and weight gain. You shouldn’t be training at 100% intensity and then stuffing yourself at night.
2) How frequent should I workout?
“How many times per week should I workout?” I would say at least aim for the minimum to maintain lean muscle tissue, which is 3 times per week. 3 times every alternate days will be ideal. But if you have been exercising regularly, then of course, you can stick to your 5 - 6 times a week routine.
What you should do is plan your workout days (ahead) prior to Ramadan. For instance, it can be Monday, Wednesday and Friday. By planning ahead and committing to it, this will give you the discipline and ensure that you complete every session without excuses.
3) What should the workout duration be?
I would stick to at least 20 – 45 minutes per session. If you were to do a slightly intense workout, then go for 20 - 30 minutes, if it’s light to moderate, then up to 45 minutes will be good.
4) How intense should my workout be?
To simply put, your Ramadan workout should be about 30 - 50% less intense than how you would normally workout outside of Ramadan.
Remember, this is not the time to increase the intensity of your workout or to try new crazy exercises. Stick to the workouts or routines you have been doing and regress by decreasing the weights, number of repetitions & sets, increase rest time and choose easy option such as normal squats instead of jump squats.
5) When is the best time to workout?
Well it is definitely NOT when you are fasting! Only train when you know you can have food and fluid in your body. Training when fasting can be more harmful than beneficial. Training when your body is in starvation and dehydration can decrease strength and muscle mass significantly. A research has shown that by dehydrating a muscle by as little as 3% can cause a 12% loss in strength, and that’s not what we want.
The best times to workout are either:
1) After Iftar
This is an excellent time to workout because you’ve eaten a small meal and taken in liquids, which can act as your pre-workout meal. However, it really depends on how much time you have between iftar and prayers. If you choose to workout after Iftar, aim for a short 20 – 30 minutes session with slightly higher intensity.
2) After Taraweeh Prayers
If it’s not too late, this is also a really great time, because right after your workout, you’re able to consume a bigger post workout meal. This meal is essential for muscle recovery, muscle growth and can also help with fat loss.
3) Before Suhoor
If you have the mental discipline to get up really early in the morning and fit in a workout session, your morning workout can give you more energy throughout the day. Drink plenty of water and you can even have a small snack 30 minutes prior to exercising. After your workout, be sure to drink lots of water and eat a light nutrient dense Suhoor meal to keep you going through the day.
6) What types of workout should I do?
Since Ramadan is where you lose muscle tone, it is more important to focus on strength training over cardio.
Aim to do strength training 3 times a week, and if you really want to fit in a cardio session, keep it to 2 days a week, performing 20 – 30 minutes of light to moderate intensity cardio. This is to preserve as much lean muscle tissue as possible.
7) Just for the Ladies
And the final tip is just for the ladies. Ladies, the best time to workout during Ramadan and to increase your workout intensity is the 1-week break you get. If you’re wondering whether should I when I’m on my period? Well the answer is yes! If you feel absolutely fine, then perform your workout as usual and give it your 100% effort. If however you do experience stomach cramp or discomfort, then take it easy and do gentle exercises.
So remember to enjoy Ramadan this year. Use these guidelines and see what works best for you. And of course, make sure your exercise does not affect the main focus of Ramadan. In the end, the focus of Ramadan is spiritual development, so nothing should take away from that. Have a blessed month and stay safe.