The 9th month in the Islamic calendar is Ramadan. Practicing Muslims drink and eat nothing from dawn till dusk. The goal of this fasting is to teach patience, discipline, modesty and spirituality.
The key to maintaining a successful training régime during Ramadan is to plan prior to commencing the activities of the Holy month.
This plan of what you want to achieve has to be realistic despite what your medium and long term goals are. Therefore, this month should be seen as a period of short term goals. Because of the change in times in taking on water and food, it is more feasible to look at setting different targets.
Plan what you will be eating each day. Stick to that plan. Ask whoever will be preparing your food to help you out. It sounds very basic, and it is, but food planning is remarkably powerful. Everyone who gets food right knows when, where and what they are going to eat. The meals after sunset can be extremely lavish affairs: big events where the focus really is on the food. The hunger caused by the fasting period and the atmosphere of celebration can often lead the individual to make poor nutritional choices and over-indulge. By having a prepared meal plan and understanding what choices you will make you reduce the chance of having regret post Iftar.
Remember the goals you set prior to starting this fasting period and maintain composure and restraint from the sugar laden sweets and traditional rich fatty and fried food dishes. Focus on healthy food choices and look at portion control.
Lack of water can lead to dehydration. A dehydrated body performs incredibly poorly especially when placed in the stressful conditions of working out. Ensure that you maintain adequate levels of hydration during the non-fasting periods. Thirst is a good indicator of when you have to drink. However, during Ramadan you can’t always drink when you are thirsty. Therefore Ramadan is one of the few times where you should take a point to make sure to load up on fluids preemptively, before thirst takes place. This is especially important as Ramadan is occurring in the hot summer months of Kuwait.
Working out verses working in. Ramadan could be the perfect month to focus on improving in areas that you may have neglected. Typically “working out” involves the expenditure of energy; think of a CrossFit WOD (Workout of the Day), a strength training session, or a Les Mills Body Combat Class.
These workouts tend to drain the body’s natural battery and deplete it of energy. The fasting aspect of Ramadan makes it more difficult to set personal bests due to the longer periods without water and nutrition. Although you can still workout, in a maintenance phase it might be worth looking at spending time to focus on the “work-ins.” A work-in will assist in building energy in the body. Think options like Tai Chi and the various forms of Yoga. There are several excellent “zone” exercises developed by leading coaches such as Paul Chek, to cultivate energy and decrease the body’s physical and mental stress levels.
Perhaps the period of Ramadan could be used to improve on your current levels of mobility and flexibility. Improvement in these areas will see great performance rewards, once the Holy month is completed, in all your major Olympic Lifts.
Books such as Becoming a Supple Leopard, by Dr. Kelly Starrett, are leading the way in increasing an individual’s athletic performance. By educating yourself on these methods you will extend your athletic career, treat body stiffness, achy joints, and learn to rehabilitate injuries. Often these key skills are neglected by the individual because of their focus on becoming fitter, faster and leaner.
The take home points: plan to eat smart: keep hydrated: and set realistic goals. Look to focus on maintaining your current strength levels and improving any dysfunctional movement patterns by learning how to maintain your body through improved mobility.
If you are in any doubt of when to eat and train, what to eat, and how to train, then speak with your personal trainer prior to embarking on Ramadan. There are several options available to assist you to ensure it’s a month of advancement in your training, rather than a regression.
Mike Campbell is the GM and Co Founder of Inspire Pure Fitness. For further information please email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.inspirekw.com.