Exercise has become fundamental to many people’s daily lives, and for some, their day is built around it. With the upheaval Ramadan can have on daily routines, it is important to maintain your fitness and structure if you are fasting.
Samer Farag, who is a Club General Manager and Personal Trainer at Fitness First is sharing some tips you can follow to maintain your fitness. As someone who has fasted for years, he has found the perfect balance between fasting and exercise on both a personal and a professional level.
Changing Your Routine is Key
“My workout is completely different in Ramadan,” says Samer. Instead of pausing all exercise, he understands the reality and importance of training throughout this period. “I change my routine by staying away from cardio and high-intensity workouts. Instead, I drop my weights to 30 percent of what they normally are.”
Rather than avoiding exercise, as a lot of people tend to do during Ramadan, Samer uses the month as a time to ‘shred’. “Due to the lower calorie intake, it is a great time to burn more fat and be in great, cutting shape. I use it to get six-pack ready for the beach. I advise my clients to drop to 2-3 reps when lifting as not only will they stay in shape but they will lose fat as well.”
Good Nutrition and Sleep
In order to achieve this, good nutrition and sleep are key, says Samer. “If you leave your workout to 2-3 hours after eating, your body can handle weights as it is full of energy, but you need to have the right amount of carbs, minerals, and protein for a quick recovery period.
“Leave yourself plenty of hours to sleep before Suhoor as this allows your muscles time to recover and to retain the vitamins and supplements that are so important to your training at this time,” he advises eating something light for the stomach and drinking plenty of water.
Timing is everything
It seems that timing is just as important for exercise over Ramadan as it is for eating. Samer says: “Our bodies are all programmed to work differently so find out what time of day works best for your body by listening to it. I have to change my timings, as I don’t always have full energy during fasting. I can work out after Iftar or before Suhoor when I have had a small meal. Fitness First clubs open later during the holy month of Ramadan, up to 1 am in some clubs, so there’s really no room for excuses for our members.”
Samer advises that the first 3-4 sessions will be difficult, so take it easy. However, the body quickly adapts and energy levels do increase so doesn’t give up on looking for how to maintain your fitness in Ramadan.
The Importance of Exercise
Samer has worked at Fitness First for 11-years and has seen the gyms popularity significantly increase during Ramadan over the years, he says: “My first Ramadan at the club was empty, however, year-by-year the mentality of people has changed as they understand the importance of exercise and actually enjoy it.”
Last year, Samer spent Ramadan in Abu Dhabi and says the club was full every night after 9 pm. He has noticed a real sense of community develop over the years and group exercise classes have become particularly popular. “Group exercise is really successful over Ramadan because you can generally work at your own level and the group motivates each other to come. After Iftar ladies prefer Zumba class or body attack as they love to dance.
3 top tips on how to maintain your fitness
Create new habits – Ramadan is about breaking bad habits, and not just for 30-days. Create new habits in the blessed month. Get into the habit of avoiding heavy foods and sugars and drink lots of water.
Timing – See what works best for your body and re-adjust your timings for Ramadan if you need to.
Keep going to the gym – It is very important to maintain your fitness level. If you put exercise on hold for the month, you will lose your shape.