The Holy month of Ramadhan is with us again. It is a time of fasting and reflection for all practicing Muslims. For those who are also avid lifters, it presents a challenge because of the dietary restrictions that must be observed. But this period does not have to coincide with losses in strength and muscle mass. For the discerning bodybuilder, it only requires a change in routine. The body is nothing if not a master of adaptation, and a few changes here and there can make a world of difference. It is possible to maintain your fitness level, and here is how:
On Working Out
Do not stop hitting the weight room on account of you not being able to take any pre or post workout meals. Training in a fasted state does have its benefits, and though your strength levels will be somewhat below optimum, you can still move some weights around. Continued training will maintain your strength levels. The best time for this is right before iftar. Then after, you will be able to have a heavy meal. When you opt for the morning workout instead, do so a couple of hours after the morning meal, when your energy reserves are still high.
As far as the intensity goes, try to reduce it a little bit. Your body will not be in its ideal state, so you cannot handle the same reps or weights you are used to. It is wise to adjust accordingly to avoid overwhelming your body because in a fasted state, its resources are scarce.
Avoid cardio at all costs during the day. Cardio, high intensity or not, requires constant rehydration. Because you are not allowed any water, you should refrain from any cardiovascular routines until after iftar.
Your plate, after iftar, should be loaded with proteins and complex carbohydrates. Loading up on calories by eating junk food is misguided, as these do not provide your muscles with the nutrition they need. You might need to eat a couple of times a night to go beyond the RDA, which might mean waking up after a couple of hours to eat. The last meal before you start your fast should be loaded with slow digesting carbohydrates. Keep an eye on the calorie count, as it is easy to pile on the pounds if you go overboard after iftar.
Ensure you get enough sleep, as it is during this rest period that growth and recovery occur. If you have shorter nights because of the training and eating that you need to do, consider short daytime naps.
There are many diehard lifters who have shared their Ramadhan schedules to ensure that their hard-earned muscle gains are preserved. For the initiated, these provide a vivid picture of how you should be managing your time during both the days and nights. They are worth checking out, before you can figure out how to create one for yourself.
Your fitness pal