Monday, August 1, 2011

Fitness Tips for Ramadhan: Working Out - Part 1

Working out during the month of Ramadhan is always a hot topic. I get many questions on this topic and the most frequent one is, when is the best time to workout. But before i go into that, another frequently asked question is, whether or not you should workout during the month of Ramadhan. My answer is, YES. It will be more challending to workout during the fasting month, but that does not mean you should give your body a month break. When it comes to working out during the fasting month, do bare in mind that the timing of when you are going to workout is going to be extremely important.

So below, i would like to share what some of my Muslim Fitness buddies do, and let you decide which is best for you, as well as sharing my opinion on each.

Working out before Sahur
One of my fitness buddies, likes to go for a run early in the morning, comes home, showers, has his Sahur and then begins his fast. This is an excellent idea but there are some challenges to this.
1) You have to wake up extremely early. He gets up at 4am. So this also means going to bead earlier or you will be zzzz for the rest of the day.
2) If you are lifting weights, i don't think any gym will be open at that time. But it is a great chance to do cardio, if that is your fitness goal.
3) I would not recommend this for muscle gaining workouts as after your post workout meal (which will be high is protein and calories), you will feel hungry again real soon within the next 3 to 4 hours. Depending on how heavy you are lifting, your body will need that much nutrition to help it fix itself. So if you can't supply it what it needs at that time, choose a better time.
4) This timing is fine if your goal is weight loss. This way you kick start your day in the right way, fuel up on some good food and then let your fasting do the rest.

Working out during Lunch Hour
I had another friend who would use his lunch hour to go workout and come back. His logic, since you can't eat anything, might as well put that lunch hour to productive use. My biggest concern with training at this hour is dehydration. And remember, you can't refuel your water till much much later. He told me its all in the mind, i don't know. I can guzzle down quite a bit of water when i workout. My other concern is nutrition after the workout. He was doing weights and i told him that the workout gets wasted if you can't fuel your body immediately after that. After a heavy lifting session, your body is highly catabolic and it needs loads of nutrition to shift it into an anabolic phase. Without food, your body will continue to be in a catabolic phase. But he said it makes no difference as all he was doing was maintenance workouts. I would not recommend this to anyone due to the 2 points i made above. But if you have tried this or will try it, do share your feedback with us. How it feels, how difficult it was and of course the results. Again, i would personally not recommend this to anyone.

Just before Buka Puasa
Here is one of my favourite times to workout. Just about an hour before you buka puasa. This way, you can give everything you got and guess what, you will get to load on up loads of food right after that. Also, doing your workout just before buka puasa also allows you really indulge in your buka puasa meal and not worry about gaining weight. Only concern i have is, that you will be very weak and tired by this time, so you will see significant drop in performance. But like i said, this would be my 2nd favourite choice to workout during the month of Ramadhan for the fact that you can fuel up almost immediately after that and that it helps to ward off fat storing when you do indulge.

Small Buka Puasa > Workout > Big feast
If you ask me, this is the best technique or time to workout. Many body builders i know practice this and they swear by it. When it comes time to buka puasa, they break fast with lots of water and have a small high protein meal. Eg. Tuna & Egg sandwich on wholemeal bread. Then after about 30 minutes, they hit the weight room and train like normal (or as normal as possible). Once they are done, then they go out for their big feast or the "real" buka puasa deal. This technique is the best becuase:
1) it allows you a chance to fuel your body before you workout, hence giving you a chance to perform at almost your normal level
2) You can drink water during your workout
3) You can push yourself as much as you want, because you can have a big feast after that.

This would be the best time to workout, regardless of whether your goal is weight loss or muscle gain. So open small, lots of fluids and some protein and carbs. Then workout as normal and then feed yourself accordingly after that. This is one of the preferred techniques for body builders as it allows them to train at almost the same intensity as they would during non fasting days. Also, it allows you to really fuel up after your workout.

So which timing / technique are you going to use during this fasting month. It will indeed be more challenging to workout during the month of Ramadhan, but as the saying goes, "if there is a will, there is a way." Does anyone have any other tips of working out during Ramadhan? Would love to hear about them. As usual, look forward to hearing your comments.

PS: Next week, i will share some useful tips on working out during the month of Ramadhan, and hopefully that will further help you with your working out. So look out for it.


Mohd4fiQ said...

hmmm what i do is exercise before buka puasa..then eat small on buka puasa..then sleep a bit early..wake up n eat big for sahur~..i dont sleep after sahur (some ppl do)..n the just do my everyday work then repeat the process everyday~...

i`m trying to lose what do u think about it?..

amilia syuhada abdul majid said...

I do not so intense workout after sahur and quite more intense right before iftar (buka puasa). Definitely no workout after iftar for me as I go for tarawih.

Rajan Rajadurai said...

mohd4fiq: It really depends on how small your post workout meal is. Also, what do you usually consume after your workout.

Its a good strategy though. How long have you been doing this? How has the results been?

Amilia: Yes, one of the drawback with the last option mentioned is the timing for terawih prayers. Can be a bit of a rush.

daniel yusof said...

waaa... i dont think im able to workout early before sahur, at lunch time and before buka hard man.however,this is what ive been doing on these 2 days of ramadhan.

i wake up at 7 am every morning since im doing nothing these days due to my semester break.i went to gym at 8am and do a normal workout as in fact id already took my sahur earlier so that ill have enough energy to workout during the morning session(i thought) and i do cardio and weight machine for less that 2 hours...

i think this works for me as i am able to workout as normal as non fasting.but a little bit tired bcos i cant consume any water.

next session i do some jog n body pump late at night. at 10 pm after we muslim completed our tarawih prayer. until 11pm lebih kurang.

thank god for me, it seems these routines works for me.

and of course, i follow the sahur n buka puasa guidelines that u mentioned in previous post =)

what do u think??

Mohd4fiQ said...

well within this 2 month since my semester break start...i`ve started to not eating rice n eating one big meal in the afternoon...n i jog around 25 minute in the evening n after that i eat fruit n i do this everyday..n i consume a lot of water whenever i felt this 2 month i`ve turn from 114kg to 97kg back to my fasting routine...well i think its ok~..since its a bit similar to my two month routine....but the problem comes with stuff i ate i guess cause i really never care about the nutrien.....

Rajan said...

Daniel: As long as you have a routine that works with you and you get the results you want, then by all means, go with it. Glad you have a routine that you are comfortable with.

Mohd Afiq: Wow... impressive results. Obviously your routine is working. So stick with it till you hit a plateau.

norazita said...

i am in the process of loosing weight. would it be effective if i break fast everyday with medium portion (600calories) meal..and sahur with 200calories? during the day i don't do exercise.

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