Fasting Fitness Explained: How To Exercise in Ramadan For ALL Fitness Levels!
Posted on Jun 13, 2017
The blessed month of Ramadan is upon us, and we're already halfway through the month! It’s time to reconnect with our Ramadan goals, re-invest in our spiritual motivation, and aim to improve our energy as we approach the last ten nights!
We all know that we need energy for worship (especially long Taraweh prayers!) so taking care of your body in Ramadan has a special spiritual importance - you are literally investing in your potential energy to worship Allah (S)! If you want to supercharge your fast and have MORE energy for worship, family, work and EVERYTHING in your life, you simply cannot ignore your physical fitness!
A lot of Muslims are unsure where to start when it comes to exercising in Ramadan. Not to worry; below you will find guidelines on how to get active and start moving this Ramadan -even if you’ve never exercised before in your life. If you’re a seasoned gym rat looking to take your results to the next level, you will also find this useful! 💪🏽 Whatever your level, you can absolutely have your most energetic Ramadan ever by adding some fun physical activity into your life!
THE BEGINNER: Focus on NEAT Movement
New to exercise and wondering how to stay active in Ramadan?
If you’ve never exercised a day in your life before, you might laugh at the thought of exercising in Ramadan! However, it’s still imperative to get moving in this month to combat the negative health effects of a sedentary lifestyle.
NEAT movement stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, the technical term for calories burned through activities such as standing and walking.
If you are NOT exercising this Ramadan, you absolutely MUST prioritize increasing your NEAT movement to rev your metabolism and keep your energy high!!
The fat burn effect of standing cannot be ignored! It’s estimated that by STANDING, you can burn up to 50 more calories per hour, compared to if you were SITTING! Dr. John Buckley of the University of Chester calculated the incredible amount of calories you can burn by simply standing more instead of sitting. He says, “If you want to put [standing] into activity levels, then that would be the equivalent of running about ten marathons a year. Just by standing up three or four hours in your day at work.”
If you want to lose weight and burn major calories without having to run ten marathons per year, it’s time to make standing up a regular habit and a part of your work day! Try to alternate between sitting and standing, so you burn more calories and also feel more refreshed and energetic while fasting! So many Muslims complain they have no time to exercise in Ramadan, but everyone has time to walk and stand while they’re working. It’s just a matter of making it happen every day. 🙌
TIP: We all know the of the '10,000 steps a day' goal, but so few of us follow it. In Ramadan, it is more important than ever to aim for 10,000 to 15,000 steps a day. Fasting has a unique fat-burning potential, so these steps have a significant impact on helping you reach your ideal bodyweight and keeping your energy high!
BEGINNER TO INTERMEDIATE - Focus on LISS Cardio
So, you’ve done a little bit of exercise and are wondering if you can keep up in Ramadan?
LISS Cardio stands for Low Intensity Steady-State Cardio and is what most fitness beginners start experimenting with, such as running or cycling. LISS Cardio is particularly doable and suited for fat burning in the hour before you break your fast. At this time, you have long burned through the calories from your Suhoor meal, so with this kind of exercise, you are directly tapping into fat stores. This is a perfect time to engage in 30-40 minutes of low-intensity exercise such as jogging outside or on the treadmill, or even a going on a long walk.
Although you won’t be aiming for new personal best records in Ramadan, it’s absolutely a perfect time for you to maintain your current level of fitness and make massive improvements in consistency from your added motivation!
TIP: Workout in the hour before breaking your fast and stay BELOW your maximal level. This means that you start slow and constantly ask yourself “Can I continue this workout safely and confidently?” Adjust your level of exertion always to be able to answer “YES!” to this question.
INTERMEDIATE TO ADVANCED - HIIT Interval Training
Ready to supercharge your fat burn and get strong this Ramadan?
Lucky for you, fasting provides a unique fat burning opportunity. Did you know that submaximal performance and muscular power are unaffected in Ramadan? That means you can still achieve a powerful, successful workout! However, MAXIMAL exercise and LONG-DURATION exercises ARE affected, as your time until exhaustion shortens in Ramadan. So you can’t waste time — get in a quick, super-effective workout before hitting the exhaustion wall!
A 20-minute high-intensity interval training set (HIIT) is perfect for Ramadan fasting. Often performed in short bursts of 45-second work periods and 15-second rests, this allows you to get an incredible workout and burn MORE calories than LISS Cardio in LESS time. A common HITT workout might look like this:
- 15-seconds REST
- 15-seconds REST
- 15-seconds REST
- 15-seconds REST
~ 1 MINUTE REST ~
Almost any activity can be done in an HIIT interval style for maximum results, from running to bodyweight work such as pushups, jumping jacks, planks and more. For example, my 30-Day Amanah Fitness Bootcamp is a 20-minute at-home workout program for Muslim women that uses the principles of HIIT to supercharge your fat burn for all fitness levels, and I encourage all my members to keep it up during Ramadan because the short, high-intensity exercise is absolutely doable! The point is that if you’re working hard - in Ramadan especially - you have to keep your workouts short to stay safe while getting maximum results.
TIP: Focus on short, higher-intensity exercises in the hour before Iftar to tap into max fat burn. Be sure to always check in with how your body feels and stay BELOW your maximal fitness potential to stay safe. You know your body and your current fitness potential. When it comes to exercising in Ramadan, it is truly an individual effort - a beginner to fitness cannot yet understand how different exercising feels for someone advanced or experienced in fitness. When exercising in Ramadan, YOU take responsibility always to be monitoring how you feel and staying within and below your maximum fitness capabilities.
IMPORTANT: Just like anything else, fitness takes time and PRACTICE! If you ever feel lightheaded or dizzy, stop exercising immediately. During your workout, constantly ask yourself, “Can I continue this exercise safely and confidently?” and adjust your level of exertion always to be able to answer “YES!” to this question. You should be monitoring how you feel throughout your entire workout, so you're always confident that you are staying in the safe zone!
Amina Khan is a CANfit-PRO Certified Fitness Instructor, Founder of Amanah Fitness, and creator of the Amanah 30-Day Bootcamp Weight Loss System. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. Doctoral degree in Health Psychology. Amina's mission is to improve health in the Muslim community through Amanah Fitness, after her own 60-pound weight loss journey, through simple and effective at-home nutrition and exercise programs. She has helped hundreds of Muslim women around the world lose weight and get in shape through her signature at-home workout program, The 30 Day Bootcamp. Join her fit Muslimah squad at www.amanahfitness.com/bootcamp (and be prepared to sweat & get fit like never before! 😉) You can follow Amina on Facebook.
So, what style of workout will YOU be doing this month? Beginner, intermediate or advanced? Let us know in the comments below — and whatever level you’re at, YOU’VE GOT THIS! 💪🏽