Written by Miroslav (Miki) Trbovic, Accredited Exercise Physiologist & Owner, Australian Athletic Centre.
Can I train through Ramadan?
It’s a question I get from a handful of athletes each year.
The short answer, Yes.
The long answer, it’s a little bit more complicated and the time at which you train needs to be considered very carefully.
Ramadan is one of the holiest months in the Islamic calendar. It is traditionally marked by a period of fasting – no food or drink (including water) between dawn and sunset each day.
Before I get into why certain parts of the day are better suited for training through Ramadan, I need to make a few disclaimers.
- Firstly, I’ve never participated in Ramadan myself. However, I have coached a number of athletes that do participate and continue training throughout.
- Secondly, if athletes have any decent training experience, they’re unlikely to increase or maintain the same level of activity during Ramadan. Weight room numbers, running times, and other capacities will take a hit so be aware and respectful.
- Thirdly, the daily fasting times will vary depending on when the sun rises and sets in your part of the world. In this article, I’m using the rough sunrise and sunset times in Adelaide, Australia in 2023 (where dawn is approximately 5/6 am and sunset is 6/7 pm on any given day. However, there is significant variance in times for Adelaide as day light savings turns the clock back an hour during the month).
- Last but not least, these strategies are for apparently healthy individuals. Please don’t rely on these methods if you’ve got an underlying health condition. Instead, start exercising during any other month of the year under professional supervision.
For athletes who want to continue training through Ramadan, or for coaches who need to consider athletes who observe Ramadan, the timing of the training session needs to be the key consideration.
Read on to find out why early morning and evenings are the preferred and safest times to train. I strongly recommend avoiding during the day.
For the early risers out there, you’re in luck. Training in the morning is the best strategy. I recommend athletes wake up and train before the first meal of the day. The primary reason is that they will be rested and will have access to energy from food consumed the night before. Given they’re likely to have also rehydrated well, they’ll be better positioned to train optimally. The other benefit is of training before the dawn meal (suhoor or sehiri), is that the athlete can then rehydrate and refuel appropriately and in a timely manner before the long period of fasting begins.
For some athletes, early mornings aren’t possible or just aren’t ideal. If this is the case, training after the evening meal (itfar or fitoor) is the best option. Beginning the workout after the evening meal gives athletes the best chance to refuel and rehydrate appropriately after a long period of fasting. The added bonus of training after the evening meal is avoiding the early alarm and maximising your time to sleep and recover effectively.
Training between dawn and sunset (NOT RECOMMENDED)
The last option for athletes who are committed to training during Ramadan but aren’t able to do early mornings or nights is to train throughout the day. I don’t recommend this option. This is primarily because training mildly or severely dehydrated isn’t ideal, or safe for that matter!
However, if it’s your only option then aim to train as close to sunset as possible. This way you can consume food and more importantly rehydrate straight after prayer. Again, not my recommendation but if you choose to do so, please proceed with caution.
Training throughout Ramadan is very much possible, it just needs to be considered. Athletes aren’t likely to hit the numbers in the weight room or run any personal bests, but they’ll still be able to keep a level of activity that minimises any performance deficits over the month of fasting.
Looking to take your athletic capabilities to the next level? Learn more about Australian Athletic Centre: https://australianathleticcentre.com.au/
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