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Fitness Tips

Fitness Tips During Ramadan by Rami Allan 

Unsure how to optimize your fitness during Ramadan? Let me help make it easier for you.

If your goal is to lose a few pounds and burn body fat, then you’re in luck, well, that’s only if you can control yourself from the buffet of sweets after iftar. Along with a balanced nutrition plan during the holy month, the timing of your workout is key if you want to shed some body fat. Since growth hormone is drastically increased during a fast (especially for a dry fast), your body’s fat burning abilities are also amplified. Growth hormone, or HGH, produced by the pituitary gland, is your body’s lean muscle, body fluid regulating and fat burning hormone.

So what does that mean? It means that if you want to maximize weight loss or more importantly fat loss, working out an hour before iftar is key. You’d be surprised of how much energy you’ll have to workout after so many hours of fasting. Exercise and fasting together also yields acute increases in oxidative stress, which actually benefits your muscle.

A 20-30min of weight lifting followed by a 20min low intensity cardio session is my favorite. But breaking them apart on separate days is great too if that works better. For example, you can lift 2-3x a week and another 2 days do cardio. But remember to pace yourself.

For weight lifting, use moderate weights for 8-12 rep range. Focus on the key compound lifts such as the bench press, squat, deadlift, barbell row, pullups, leg press, etc. These will work multiple large muscle groups and help keep your muscles active. That is just enough to work the muscle but not too light to be useless and forgotten for the month. This type is also not too heavy where it’ll deplete you too easily.

For cardio, aim for low intensity. This includes, a light jog, brisk walk, step master or riding a bike. Your target heart rate should around 60-70% of your maximal heart rate during the cardio session. How do I find that? Just follow this formula:

(220 – your age) x (0.7)

Now if you goal is just to maintain your weight and muscle mass, ideally it is preferred to work out after your iftar and before fajr. You may even lift heavier since you’ll have more energy from eating beforehand.

Looking to build muscle during Ramadan? Sorry to break it to you, that is going to very difficult due to your catabolic state during the day and difficulty to be in a calorie surplus since your stomach literally shrinks. The focus is to maintain your weight or shed a few pounds and to be healthy overall.

Rami Allan is a certified functional trainer, holds a NASM-CPT certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine and specializes in weight loss. He can be reached via email – rallan@invitehealth.com

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