Looking to maintain that muscle mass and shredded aesthetic during Ramadan? No problem!
The month of Ramadan begins on April 12 and runs through May 12 and for those wondering how to maintain muscle mass during Ramadan, a good planned approach will allow you to do so. Practiced by millions of Muslims around the world, Ramadan is a fast that requires those to abstain from eating and drinking, among other things, to achieve a consciousness and closer connection to God.
This can be especially challenging for bodybuilders and other athletes, and even those looking to just keep a desired physique, as fasting is typically not part of a well-thought out routine to keep on muscle mass and maintain that shredded aesthetic.
We all know that maintaining muscle requires a strict workout routine and careful diet and fasting can be a detriment to those gains we’ve worked all year for. During Ramadan, your workout plan needs to evolve and adapt to changes in not only fasting, but also sleep patterns, when you eat and drink, and the times of day you exercise. This may require some careful planning to ensure you get the most out of your training and diet plans, while also sticking to the requirements of this sacred holiday.
While it may not be the easiest, it is certainly possible to maintain muscle during Ramadan and here’s how. We want to give you the best chance at achieving all your goals and the key to success during Ramadan requires careful planning and a diligence that will test your will and physical capabilities. But do not fear, for we have some helpful advice and ways for you to continue to thrive during Ramadan.
How To Effectively Maximize Training & Workouts
When it comes to your workouts, there are some key ways to stay fit during Ramadan that will keep on that muscle mass.
Stick With What You Know
Instead of switching up your workout routine which will challenge your body in new and unique ways, look to stay with your existing workouts and what you know during the month of Ramadan. You will still build muscle and can sprinkle in new exercises to cause muscle confusion and continue to see growth, but starting a whole new routine may cause you to fight the urge to break the fast even more so and can negatively impact other areas of your daily lifestyle.
Resistance training is a great way to progressively build muscle mass and staying consistent with this, especially during Ramadan, will prove to be key in the long run. By increasing volume and focusing on power and explosiveness, you can work with things like high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and other forms of resistance training to really give your muscles what they need most (1).
High Reps & Focus On Intensity
Sticking with higher intensity will work your muscles effectively and putting in higher reps will continue to build muscle even during a fast. Increasing the number of sets and reps for your workout, while putting in different techniques like drop sets will not only work your muscles and target deeper into those muscles, but will also ensure you don’t lose muscle. It can also in fact assist you in putting lean muscle on. Lighter weight will allow you to maintain muscle mass and also allow you to perform these higher reps without putting yourself in a hole.
Sleep is super important even outside of Ramadan, but during this month of fasting, getting adequate sleep will support muscle growth and muscle building so you start to build those muscles you want to keep. Not to mention, you are not able to eat or drink anything during Ramadan, so energy drinks and pre-workouts are off the table, so get some good sleep.
It should go without saying that proper sleep will allow you to function better in daily life and make better decisions when it comes to training, planning your diet, and just living and all-around better lifestyle (2).
How To Optimize Your Nutrition Routine
Nutrition is one of the biggest components of your routine when it comes to staying fit, whether you are bulking, cutting, or maintaining. Hitting your macros and making sure they are from quality sources is key!
Make Protein A Priority
Since protein is the main building block of all muscle, making sure you get adequate amounts of protein during Ramadan will allow you to maintain muscle mass and will keep you full for longer. This is where a high-quality protein supplement will come to your aid for they will provide a clean source of protein that is easily digestible to hit you faster to maximize the benefits. Something like a whey protein is useful, but also a plant-based protein powder is a great way to avoid dairy and still allow you to maintain muscle (3).
Avoid Sugar & Fast Carbs
We all love both sugar and carbs, but being cautious of your intake will prove to be important when it comes to your nutrition routine. Since you’ve been fasting all day during the month of Ramadan, it can be easy to fall into the trap of eating whatever, but it is vital to fight this urge and not consume too many sugars and carbs. A high-carb meal should have equal amounts of protein if that is the route you choose to go.
Focus On Greens
Looking to incorporate as many vegetables and leafy greens into your diet as possible will provide those micronutrients and other essentials you’ve missed from a whole day of fasting during Ramadan. This is important for your cells, muscles, and other bodily functions overall to pump you with key vitamins and minerals so you don’t suffer any negative consequences to your growth and recovery.
Hydration is absolutely key, but it’s important to do so slowly. You want to be sure your body properly absorbs water and while it is tempting to drink massive amounts of water, do so in a way that will allow your body to properly absorb and maintain it (4). For those who work out after breaking the fast, be sure to constantly sip water during and after working out. As much as we love coffee and other sources of caffeine, try and avoid it as much as possible for it can dehydrate you further.
Ramadan Gains Wrap Up
Ramadan is a sacred time for many and it can be a battle of juggling sticking to the routine and the rules of Ramadan while also sticking to your workout routine to maintain muscle mass so you don’t lose those hard earned gains. Remember to be smart with your plan of attack and although it may take some extra diligence, it will all be worth it for it is possible to take advantage of this month and be successful.
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*Images courtesy of Envato
- Laursen, Paul B.; Jenkins, David G. (2002). “The scientific basis for high-intensity interval training: optimizing training programmes and maximizing performance in highly trained endurance athletes”. (source)
- Driver, Helen S.; Taylor, Sheila R. (2000). “Exercise and sleep”. (source)
- Pasiakos, Stefan M.; McLellan, Tom M.; Lieberman, Harris R. (2015). “The effects of protein supplements on muscle mass, strength, and aerobic and anaerobic power in healthy adults: a systematic review”. (source)
- Shirreffs, S. M. (2009). “Hydration in sport and exercise: water, sports drinks and other drinks”. (source)