3 Tips for Bodybuilders Observing Ramadan

Some awesome bodybuilding tips for anyone fasting and observing Ramadan

For those individuals of Muslim faith it is coming up on that time of the year. The ninth month of the Islamic calendar is a month of fasting (sawm) to celebrate the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad. This practice and commemoration is known as Ramadan, one of the Five Pillars of Islam, and it can be detrimental to your gains if you are a bodybuilder observing this month and you go about it incorrectly.

However, if you play your cards right, you certainly can maintain or even make gains during this month. While it is not the easiest month to get through as a bodybuilder, there are certain ways to go about it to make the most of it, and continue making progress.

What is Ramadan?

Along with with prayer, reflection, and community, one of the prominent practices of Ramadan is a month of fasting. The annual observance means that for the month of Ramadan followers of the Islamic faith must abstain from consuming food and water from dawn until dusk. This practice of abstinence also includes refraining from smoking and sexual relations as well.

The month lasts 29–30 days based on the visual sightings of the crescent moon, according to numerous biographical accounts compiled in the Hadith’s. That is a long time to fast from sun up to sundown.

How Ramadan Affects Bodybuilders

This month of celebration can truly be taxing, especially for those trying to pursuit some serious bodybuilding, athletes, or even regular gym goers looking to make some good progress. Think about it, you rely on food for your energy and strength, but also for your recovery. Food is a key component in your gym progress.

Then you have liquids, water being the biggest one, to keep you hydrated and push the necessary nutrients to your muscles to further help with the recovery process, and now during this month you no longer can consume either of the two. This makes maintaining not only your physique, but also your energy levels can be difficult in a time of fasting.

So how exactly should someone who observes Ramadan conduct their training for the month of Ramadan? Here are a few tips to consider.

1. Fat Loss

Since fasting is a requirement of Ramadan, it’s a great idea to take full advantage of the opportunity to lose fat during this period of time. Intermittent fasting is an awesome practice that allows an individual to eat during a specific time window which helps to burn fat. With the sunrise to sunset fasting in effect, it’s a perfect period of time to embrace intermittent fasting.

Fasting can increase the production of HGH (human growth hormone), an essential component to making some serious muscle gains as a bodybuilder. Insulin sensitivity and cellular repair are also major benefits of intermittent fasting making it a practice that every fitness enthusiast, including Muslims practicing Ramadan, should try.

2. Protein is Key!

protein powders

Seeing as how food and water restriction is a key component of Ramadan, it can be very easy to go and binge on loads of junk foods when your fast it up for the day. However, making sure to consume the right foods and supplements during the feeding window is extra important.

For a bodybuilder, muscle production is the key to ultimate success, and it requires a good diet to really pack on the muscle. That means having your diet in order to combat any potential muscle loss, particularly in the protein department. As one of the keys to building strong muscle, protein should prioritize for Muslim bodybuilders looking to build and maintain muscle mass during Ramadan. If it’s not possible to get all the protein required in the day from food, then obtaining a quality protein powder is key to maintaining muscle mass.

Make sure to consume 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight in order to get sufficient protein into your diet and maintain your gains!

Also, be sure not to neglect your carb and fat intake as both nutrients will be key for energy production and functionality. Fat helps with testosterone production while carbs replenish muscle glycogen and help with brain functionality. Water is of course also paramount during your eating window.

3. Training

So after all these tips on fat loss and maintaining muscle mass through fasting and diet, when and how should you be training during the month of Ramadan?

Well, while you could potentially train at any time, choosing to train around your eating window is definitely a great idea. This way you can gain energy to perform your usual classic lifts like the bench press and squat. Fasted cardio is also a great idea right before breaking your fast.

A bit after breaking your fast you can perform some of your usual workouts, but it’s a great idea to focus on full body training during this time for three times a week, old school bodybuilding style.

Try not to over do it on the amount of weight you’re lifting. After all, you’re trying to avoid injury during this period of fasting. You won’t be at one hundred percent, so aiming to lift at one hundred percent isn’t really the best idea.

Ramadan Wrap Up

Overall, Ramadan can be a stressful time for many bodybuilders who observe the month. It certainly is not the easiest thing in the world to be fully focused on the gym, but not be able to eat or drink anything from sunrise to sunset for a whole entire month. A lot of times, bodybuilders observing the month of Ramadan will lose gains because they are not maximizing the fasting and the food intake, or not training properly. Do not be like them!

Look to maintain your muscle mass, lose fat, and recharge your potential during Ramadan for the best gains! Try these tips out a tweak as needed. Ramadan Kareem!

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Header image courtesy of Envato Elements

Managing Editor at Generation Iron, Jonathan Salmon is a writer, martial arts instructor, and geek culture enthusiast. Check out his InstagramTwitter and Facebook to keep up with his antics.



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Jonathan Salmon
Managing editor of Generation Iron, Jonathan Salmon is a writer, martial arts instructor, and geek culture enthusiast. He has been writing about bodybuilding, combat sports, and strength sports for over 8 years. Check out his YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Sound Cloud for in-depth MMA analysis.