Tomorrow sees the start of Ramadan, the holy month of restraint observed by Muslims during which they must refrain from eating or drinking from sunrise to sunset. For anyone living in the UK that can mean fasting lasts for over 20 hours!
With such a long fasted period each day, only a small window remains within which it is necessary to consume vital macro and micro nutrients to nourish the body for a sustained period, whilst also fitting in enough sleep to ensure the body is mentally and physically rested.
Observing Ramadan is unquestionably a challenge, but for anyone also pursuing health and fitness goals there are additional factors to take into consideration. In most cases, there is no reason that you cannot continue to train, but advance planning of both your diet and workout schedule is crucial to ensure your efforts are not counterproductive to your health and training progress.
For all our clients and followers that will be observing this important practise, here are The Fitting Rooms’s top tips for everything fitness during your fast:
1. Try to time your training just after you break your fast: either early in the morning or later after sunset, if your gym is still open;
2. Use this time to work on strength and body composition maintenance, don’t push yourself to match or exceed personal PB’s;
3. Stick to Low reps and long rest intervals: a 3 sets x 5 reps type program would be appropriate. Don’t expect to get stronger but instead aim to maintain your strength from week to week;
4. Listen to your body: if you’re too exhausted to train then perhaps today is your rest day. Aim for around 3 workouts per week;
5. Don’t kill yourself with HIIT training or high volume bodybuilding programs, you simply will not have the adequate energy or recovery for this;
6. Make sure you are fully hydrated by drinking plenty of water while the fast is broken. Aim for three litres a day with the majority of that on waking to minimise the impact on your sleep and hydrate you for the day ahead;
7. Eat-sleep-repeat: Eat immediately as you break your fast; try to get some sleep; set your alarm; eat just before your fast begins and then try to get some more sleep if possible;
8. Stick to a high-carb, high-fat diet with a base level of protein. This will restore your glycogen levels, give you sustained energy throughout the day, and help to maintain muscle mass. This is not a time to eat processed junk food… eat fresh, nutritious meals and limit your sugars;
9. Why not get mobile! Use the days you would normally train to work on your flexibility and mobility or perform light lifting work to improve technique on exercises such as overhead squats, lunges or deadlifts;
10. If you feel unwell, light headed or dizzy during training it’s time to call it a day. You’re not going to lose all your gains by missing a few sessions so relax, rest up and try again in a day or two.
We hope this is useful to those of you observing Ramadan this year. Good luck with your training and as always, we’d love to know how you’re getting on.