What types of exercises are best during Ramadan? Fasting Workouts Explained!

 

What types of exercises are best during Ramadan? Fasting Workouts Explained!

Almost any type of workout can be suitable for Ramadan, with a few exceptions and modifications….

SUMMARY: Ramadan fasting results in a major shift in your eating, sleeping and hydration patterns. Your workouts need to be adjusted to accomodate this dramatic shift. This article will help you understand what types of workouts are best (and worst) suited for Ramadan, as well as how to modify your workout intensity and duration for best results. 

 

In Ramadan, many Muslims go to one of two extremes when it comes to exercise.

On one hand, many Muslims assume that their workout potential is destroyed in Ramadan, so they “shut down” and try to move as little as possible throughout the day.

On the other extreme, some gym-obsessed Muslims increase their workout sessions, spending hours during the night at the gym, trying as hard as they can to continue gaining strength as per their normal workout schedule outside Ramadan.

Neither of these approaches is ideal during Ramadan.

In Ramadan, the purpose of exercise changes. Your Ramadan workout goals should include to: 

  • Exercise for MAINTENANCE  of your strength and cardio potential
  • Exercise for high energy, worship and productivity during the day
  • Complete the Minimum Effective Dose for exercise in Ramadan (The least amount of time spent exercising to meet your body’s fitness needs and improve your overall health while maximising time for worship.)

The BEST & worst exercises for Ramadan: How fasting affects your workouts

Many Muslims assume that when fasting, your athletic performance and ability to exercise must unilaterally decrease. Research on athletes and athletic performance in a fasted is mixed, with some studies showing performance decreases in Ramadan:

Ramadan fasting has been shown to compromise a number of physiological outcomes including muscular strength and endurance, high-intensity exercise performance, anaerobic power and maximal aerobic power… Indeed, more than 70% of professional players perceived that their performance and training abilities were negatively affected… The current data suggest that acute high intensity exercise performance is likely to be negatively affected during Ramadan fasting, although there is also evidence to the contrary1

However, other studies indicate that some TYPES of exercise may be MORE affected by fasting than others. Understanding how fasting may affect your workouts can inform you as to what types of workouts are BEST suited for a fasted state2:

Based on this research, we can extract the following recommendations for exercise in Ramadan
  1. Consider Ramadan a time to MAINTAIN strength and cardio and work on consistency, rather than aim for personal best records or significant strength gains. 
  2. Reduce exercise DURATION (shorter workouts) and INTENSITY (workout at a submaximal level)
  3. Avoid extreme maximal high-intensity workouts or long-distance intense endurance training such as marathon running or long-distance cycling.

 

The type and intensity of workout you will perform will depend largely on the timing at which you will exercise in Ramadan (be sure you have read the article WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO EXERCISE IN RAMADAN!)

Workouts performed during non-fasted hours in Ramadan may be largely unaffected. For fasted workouts, working out at a submaximal intensity and decreasing workout duration are the two criteria for exercise while fasting. Based on this guideline, the vast majority of exercises you already enjoy can be continued during Ramadan if you modify your intensity and shorten your workouts.

The importance of resistance exercises (or weight training) in Ramadan

One recommendation that should be emphasised during Ramadan is the importance of resistance training to preserve muscle mass. Whenever a person eats at a caloric deficit, they are at risk for losing muscle mass. Resistance exercises can prevent muscular breakdown so should be prioritised in Ramadan over cardio exercises. 

Resistance work can be done with weights OR with your bodyweight alone! Our popular Ladies-Only Amanah Fitness Bootcamp signature home workout program features short, 20-minute workouts that can be done anywhere, with NO equipment, taught by hijabi Bootcamp Instructor, Amina Khan! The Amanah Fitness Bootcamp program workouts are ideal for Ramadan because they show you how to use your own body to create muscle-preserving resistance!

Healthy FOOD, EXERCISE and SLEEP must come together for your HEALTHIEST Ramadan ever! Luckily, we’ve got you covered!

The Ramadan Reset eBook is your complete solution to healthy eating, exercise, sleep, coffee and so much more in Ramadan! With 90 dietitian-created recipes, full fasting fitness schedules for ALL levels, your Ramadan will never be the same! Click HERE to learn more!

DISCLAIMER: Any online advice as to how to exercise in Ramadan can serve as generalised advice ONLY. Each person must ensure to consult their doctor for individualised recommendations based on their own medical history and fitness capabilities.
References
  1. Aziz, A. R., Slater, G. J., Chia, M. H., & Teh, K. C. (2012). Effects of Ramadan fasting on training induced adaptations to a seven-week high-intensity interval exercise programme. Science & Sports, 27(1), 31-38.
  2. Zerguini, Y., Kirkendall, D., Junge, A., & Dvorak, J. (2007). Impact of Ramadan on physical performance in professional soccer players. British Journal of Sports Medicine.
When is the best time to workout in Ramadan?
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