Training during Ramadan

Ramadan is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting. Muslims participating in Ramadan will not eat or drink from sunrise to sunset. It is common to have 2 meals in a 24 hour period, the suhoor, just before sunrise and the iftar, just after sunset.

This fasting can lead to some changes being necessary in order to continue a fitness training program. Not only are energy levels likely to dip, but re-hydration (or lack thereof) can play a huge part. Even the mildest levels of dehydration can cause headaches, tiredness and difficulty concentrating which can make training very difficult, let alone hinder your performance and recovery. In order to keep safe and get the most out of your sessions, here are few suggestions:

  • Keep it simple;
  • Lighten the weight, increase reps;
  • Avoid intense cardio;
  • Use this time as the time to really focus on your technique. Lower the weight and concentrate on how your body feels and adapt accordingly;
  • Respect your body and take longer rests if needed;
  • Size gains are extremely unlikely to happen during fasting because it will be difficult to consume enough calories in the small eating window to increase muscle mass. You could still maintain and even increase your strength levels though;
  • Make a plan, taking into account when you will be eating and how your energy/hydration levels will be affected;
  • If you do wish to carry on with your training regime, it may be best to adjust your training time so that you train after iftar, ensuring you have had food and water before commencing training. Just don’t overdo it with the first meal because working out on a full/bloated stomach is not pleasant!
  • Sip water regularly before, during and after your session (as well as the fasting window allows);
  • Make sure you get enough sleep;
  • Make sure you eat a suhoor (pre-dawn meal) that’s filled with complex carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats.
  • Focus on maintenance rather than progress;
  • Nutrition is key, so stick to healthy balanced meals once darkness falls. Try not to overdo it!

PLEASE: If you are training in a gym whilst fasting, please make sure you let a member of staff know so they can be vigilant in case of dizziness or feeling faint. Also, make them aware how you’d want such a situation handled.

Note: I have written this article from my own experience with clients that observe Ramadan, I am not myself a practising Muslim and am always open to other peoples thoughts and ideas.

Ramadan Mubarak!