By Omar Mansour
Many of us find that exercising during Ramadan can be a challenge. However, through gradual adaptation and ‘Smart’ training – within set goals – I believe that there is an opportunity to continue exercising or perhaps even to start exercising.
The first question we must ask ourselves is, what is our main training goal for Ramadan? For me it’s simply to maintain my muscle mass and maintain a base level of cardiovascular fitness.
Depending on your fitness levels you should be ‘Smart’ with the amount of sessions you’d like to accomplish weekly. For example, if before Ramadan you were training twice a week, then during Ramadan don’t jump to six times per week.
Smart training is setting targets that are Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic and Time-related. Basically it means making a carefully thought-out plan within your capabilities. For instance, rather than saying: “I’ll try to exercise more,” plan that you will train for 30 minutes, three days a week.
Many people who want to exercise during Ramadan will break their fast with some carbohydrates and fluids with electrolytes and will then train. They then eat a proper meal after their session. This is probably the most sensible way to fit in your training as you will have provided yourself some fuel to train on. Alternatively you can try working out just before Iftar. This way you can drink and eat pretty much immediately after your session.
Personally, I don’t believe Ramadan is the time to set huge training goals as we will all be on limited calories and an irregular sleep routine. Instead, view training in Ramadan either to maintain fitness or start some good habits from which you can push on.
When it comes to the type of exercise to do, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach. If you’re weight training, avoid pushing the body to the point of failure and working yourself too hard. Try to stop one or two reps short of failure on each set. Think about lifting light to moderate weights.
If you’re doing cardio training, then go easy and build it up as you go through the weeks. I wouldn’t recommend HIIT [high intensity interval training] because it can shock the body, and without the proper fuel you may not feel your best. When exercising, keep the intensity low to moderate. Other good recommendations are yoga or Pilates.
Set yourself a programme to follow, but initially monitor how you feel. Everyone copes with the first week of Ramadan differently and your body will let you know if you are working too hard or have some more energy in the tank.
Record all of your workouts with a description of how you feel each day. Documenting your progress will allow you to learn from the experience and refine your approach for the next year.
Finally, when you do break your fast, think about putting quality calories in your body. Most of us will be consuming only one or two proper meals a day. Therefore, make sure you are consuming protein, wholesome carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, healthy fats and drinking at least 2.5 litres of water.
Omar’s top tips:
- Make an exercise plan – you’ll be more likely to stick to it
- Don’t overdo training – this is not the time to push yourself
- Consume quality calories
- Drink at least 2.5l of water each day
- Don’t train on a full stomach – break the fast with fluids and carbs for energy, then train before Iftar
- Record your progress
Omar Mansour is a London-based personal trainer, running coach, fitness consultant and co-founder of Track Life Ldn, hosting group sessions throughout London.
After graduating in Sports Science in 2012, he qualified as a personal trainer and UKA (UK Athletics) running coach. He has trained under Great Britain Coaches and still competes at club level.
Working out of many exclusive London gyms, he uses his athletic background to help clients be the best version of themselves, no matter what their level of fitness. In addition to personal and online training, he is a co-founder of Track Life LDN,