Physical Training in Ramadan

Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic Calendar and is actually the name of the month just like September is the name of a month. Muslims all around the world fast during this month by abstaining from food, drink and sex during daylight hours. In the early hours of the morning, before sunrise, they typically get up to have a light meal before the morning prayer. At night, they typically have a light meal before the evening prayer. Many people have a heavier meal later on into the night. In some countries- like in the U.K during Summer- people can fast for as long as twenty hours, whereas in other countries it could be as short as ten hours. Naturally, when I talk about training in Ramadan I’ll be catering for all the above. 

What is the best type of training

For years of my life, I would run between five and ten kilometres just before the evening prayer. I would take along with me a bottle of water so that I could break my fast as soon as I heard the call to prayer. It was always the greatest pleasure to be finishing off a run while the call to prayer sounded. I was much younger than and a lot more zealous than I am not. In a relatively cool climate with a shorter day of fasting, I think running might not be such a bad idea. With a longer day of fasting and hot weather it’s a terrible idea. If you want to do any sort of cardio, it would have to be a really short stint just fifteen or so minutes prior to breaking your fast. Otherwise, it’s silly and likely dangerous. However, if you want to have a longer workout you could start an hour before the Maghrib prayer and lift some light weights. Take enough rest in between and don’t go heavy. Lift a set and rest plenty. Walk around, play around, enjoy it. Do three or four different lifts one after the next with breaks in between and then start the process again. About five minutes towards the end of your workout you could do some skipping or any other cardio. 

What is the best time to train?

If you only have a four or five hour window to hydrate, eat, sleep and pray, you should not be training during this time. If you have an eight hour window or more, then it’s probably good to use some of the time to train. If you are properly hydrated, you can actually perform a high intensity workout or heavy lifts without suffering any major set-backs. Focus on compound lifts because it targets all the major muscle groups and will save you a lot of time. Don’t use Ramadan as a time to gain muscle. Rather, use it as a time to maintain what you have. If you haven’t been training before Ramadan, now’s probably not a good time to start. I suggest you wait until after Ramadan to start training. If you want to do some sort of exercise I recommend simply going for a walk now and again. 

Nutrition

It’s not possible to get in enough protein for good muscle development during Ramadan because most people’s stomachs shrink during this period. It’s hard enough for many people to get in a regular meal let alone consume a whole chicken! What I recommend is that you make at least three eggs and possibly a chicken or fish fillet as part of your breakfast in addition to whatever else you’ll be eating. Also make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the night. You might need to add some electrolytes to your water if you are training regularly. For dinner, be sure to get in some meat for protein, vegetables and possibly a fruit. You don’t have to eat everything all at once. You can break up your iftar by having your fruit and water first. You can always come back to your main meal after the prayers. A good casein protein shake might do you well before you go to bed to assist with muscle recovery. I would not recommend you use protein powders excessively in Ramadan because it tends to dehydrate you. 

Rest

If you feel particularly weak and your muscles aren’t recovering adequately, take a few days off. Ramadan is definitely not the time to overtrain. Make sure you get your six to eight hours of sleep daily. Infact, less training with more sleep will give you better results than more training with less sleep. As soon as the prayers are done, jump into bed. If your window for prayers and eating is too small to get a good night’s sleep, make sure you sleep enough during the day. I recommend that you train every other day instead of a few days on and a few days off. However, if you aren’t recovering adequately, take two or three days off and then start again. Ramadan Mubarak! 

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