Ramadan 2018 began on 17 May this year and will end on 14 June. During this period of fasting, keeping up with a fitness routine can be a challenge. But it doesn’t have to be. We got hold of Virgin Active master trainer Aneeka Buys (the brains behind the Shedding For The Wedding workout plan!) to give us a few tips she’ll be using as well.
Ramadan Tip No. 1: Adapt And Adjust
The programme you’re currently following will probably be too intense to keep up during Ramadan. “Adjust it as feels appropriate,” says Buys. “For example, because the legs are where most of my calorie consumption lies (the leg and glute muscles are large – they store a lot more energy and use a lot more energy to be replenished), I don’t do weighted legs exercises.”
Buys still keeps up a high rep count to maintain endurance, but she aims for a lower intensity so she doesn’t exhaust herself. “Good muscle activation is the goal,” Buys adds.
Ramadan Tip No. 2: What Workout?
“Cardio or strength and resistance?” I ask Buys, thinking cardio will be out of the question. “I’m still doing both,” she says. “We still need to stimulate both fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle fibres to maintain fitness.”
But she has slowed down on the cardio. “I’m doing brisk walks at an incline instead of running and cardio bursts,” she says. “I’d suggest a maximum of two times a week of cardio walks to prevent fatigue and muscle breakdown.”
Ramadan Tip No. 3: For How Long?
Don’t push yourself too hard for too long, otherwise you’ll be heading for burn-out. Buys usually trains for 45 mins max when she isn’t fasting as that’s when her body tires.
“I’m doing 30 minutes of exercise now, which I find sustainable,” she says. “I don’t feel exhausted but I do feel as though I’ve had a good workout.” That’s the kind of feeling we’re going for – but remember to take into account how long you usually work out for.
Ramadan Tip No. 4: When To Train?
“You want to train when your muscles still have a good amount of glycogen stored in them,” says Buys. She goes on to explain that this would be before Suhoor (when the fasting day starts) or an hour or so after.
“This will allow you enough energy for good activation and endurance during your training,” she adds. An added bonus: your body will use fat to replenish those lost glycogen stores. Goodbye muffin top!
Ramadan Tip No. 5: Stay Fuelled
Buys is no advocate for supplementation, but while fasting a good branch-chain amino acid is a smart plan. “Preferably one that contains essential amino acids too,” she says – and she will have this while she trains or just before the fasting begins.
“Eat a good variety of low-GI foods from all food groups and keep refined sugar to a minimum,” Buys adds. You want to keep your blood sugar levels as stable as possible throughout the day.
And stay hydrated! “I have about a litre of water in the morning, another litre when breaking my fast and 500ml during the night,” she says.
Aneeka’s Tip To Staying Motivated During Ramadan
It is a challenge to keep up the hard work but it’s worth it. “I’ve spent countless years just frustrated with my body after Ramadan because I would lose all my strength and endurance,” says Buys. This is her biggest motivation to keep training this year.
“I also try to get my workout done as early as possible so I don’t have any excuses!” She adds. “Booking a class – like yoga or pilates – will also help you to do the workout because it’s already booked and paid for.”
Take it down a notch but don’t quit! Follow Aneeka’s Ramadan fitness journey on her Instagram page.