Over the thirty days of Ramadan, you need to do some exercise in order to maintain your fitness, but you don’t need to do what you are used to. The aim is to maintain and not gain. In order to do this, you need to have a strategy and work out a schedule according to your timetable.
There are 4 schools of thought when it comes to training during Ramadan.
All of them agree that you must cut back on the amount of exercise you usually do, particularly if you are a long distance runner or someone who does a lot of cardio work. During the fast, with high temperatures and no liquid from sunrise to sunset, you will compromise your health by pushing yourself too much. It is not recommended to do intensive cardio workouts and heavy weight-training exercises while fasting.
The recommendation is that you cut back to 2 cardio workouts a week. For weight training, the best times would be after Taraweeh prayers at night or about 1 hour after Iftar. Make a schedule for yourself and plan on exercising two times a week. If you really are feeling strong, you may want to add an extra day to that regime if you feel up to it.
When to exercise on those days is where the differing opinions come in.
1. Exercise 90 minutes before sunset
This will make it towards the cooler part of the day. You will exercise on an empty stomach. The routine will be low key with more resistance training, stretching, less repetitions with slightly lighter weights and slow short jogs or brisk walks. Don’t exercise for more than an hour. The benefit of this is that when you have completed your workout, you are very close to sunset and you can drink water to rehydrate yourself. The disadvantage is that you are exercising at a time when you may be very hungry and thirsty. You do not want to compromise your health by vigorous exercise when you are dehydrated.
2. Exercise after your evening meal
It’s never easy exercising on a full stomach but during the fast, after food seems the most logical time to get a routine in. As you are only exercising two or three times a week, on those days, you may want to eat a little to refuel your body, being sure to drink enough water to rehydrate yourself and then break your meal to do the exercise. That way, you will have more energy for the workout, but still have the opportunity to return to the meal.
3. Exercise between 11pm and 2am
There is a train of thought that suggests exercising a couple of hours after the evening meal. If you are a night owl, you may discover that the best time for exercise is between 11pm and 2am. Once your night meal has settled, you will have energy and will be hydrated. You can try and sleep after work, so that you will not be overtired by midnight. Exercising at that time is cooler than day time, which is also helpful. If you exercise at between 11pm and midnight, you are still able to get a few hours more sleep until you get up to start the day.
4. Exercise between 3am & 4am.
Early birds may want to go to sleep early and wake up early to exercise on an empty stomach prior to your early morning meal. This way you will have energy from the previous night’s meal, yet still have an empty stomach. You can hydrate while you exercise and on your return have your early morning meal. This method you get energized for the day ahead.
Whichever time you choose, remember not to overdo it. Force yourself to go at a slower pace than usual, continually reminding yourself that you are exercising to maintain and not to gain. Stop if you feel dizzy or lack energy. Rest frequently and do a low impact workout.