Photos courtesy of Deana Shaaban Photos courtesy of Deana Shaaban

Keeping Active during Ramadan

Thu, May. 31, 2018
Ramadan is a difficult time of year to stick to our normal routines. That being said, it’s not difficult at all to maintain a healthy lifestyle and to fit a little bit of working out into each day. Here are a few tips to get over the konafa coma, the series binging, and just get moving.

Timing your Workout

Before getting into the most effective times to work out, you should first be aware of how you are feeling. Some days we have more energy than other days, and we need to get into the habit of listening to our bodies. If you feel like you have the energy to work out, then go for it, and if you feel like perhaps your energy levels are quite low, then opt for either sitting out that day or perhaps going for a lower intensity workout. To get the most out of your exercise, the ideal time to work out is either an hour before you break your fast, or right after you break your fast with something small, such as a few dates and water or perhaps a bowl of oatmeal. This way, your stomach isn’t so full and you are able to train to your full potential.

Duration and Intensity

It’s not about how many times a week you train or how intensely you train, I believe it’s about consistency. It’s about doing your best to maintain a balanced lifestyle while still doing justice to your body. So, you need to work around your own life and own schedule; if 3 days a week is all you can afford to dedicate to train, then that’s totally fine. However, keep with the 3 days a week and try not to drop to less than that. Being choppy in your workouts will not allow you to see improvement, which I’ve often found can demoralise my clients. Again, as with anything in life, consistency is the key to constant improvement and maintenance of your emotional and physical health.

Types of Workout

In general, I always encourage our clients to train at a facility in groups. Find a buddy and find a facility near you, such as Ignite Egypt, and make use of the great energy that comes from training in groups. Sometimes it’s easy to get so lazy after an entire day of fasting that you do not want to leave the house, or maybe there’s a super important event you need to attend so spending an hour to train at a facility isn’t the most practical option. There are some great workouts that you can do at home to help keep your body on track, and a few variations of them that you can alternate on different days.

Tempo Squats/Split Squats

The go-to exercise for most people is squats. I like to shake things up a bit by incorporating different variations of the squat. To squat properly, you stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes turned out 15-30 degrees. With every move there is a dominant joint, with the hip, the dominant joint is the hips. The hips are what begins and ends the movement. With a tempo squat, you begin to lower yourself and slowly move downwards on the count of 4 seconds, holding for 2 seconds and then bringing yourself back up again in 1 second. Repeat for 10-12 reps in a set of 3 times. With a split squat, you place one foot in front of the other, making sure that both your feet are facing forward. You then move your body up and down, making sure that both the front leg and the back one are at 90 degrees. Do it slowly, and opt to do them with the same tempo as the squats as well as the same repetitions.

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High Plank/Shoulder Taps

A high plank is a great workout for your arms, shoulders and core. You begin this movement by getting into a push-up position with your hands directly underneath your shoulders and your legs extended behind you. The closer together your legs are, the harder the move, and the further apart, the easier it gets. Activate your core so that your hips don’t sink to the floor. Hold this move for 30-60 seconds, depending on what your body can handle. Another alternative to this exercise is lifting one arm at a time and having the opposite arm touch the opposite shoulder. Repeat this about 8 times for each arm, while trying to keep your hips from swaying back and forth.

90 Degree Hold/Bent Hollow Hold

This move is fairly easy to learn, but can be quite difficult to implement. Lie on the floor and bring your legs up straight so that your body is in a 90-degree position, keeping you knees locked so that you get the most out of this workout. If your legs begin to shake, that is totally normal, it is just your body overcoming a weakness. The other variation is a bent hollow hold; with this workout, you are also lying on the floor, tucking your legs into your body so that your legs are bent at a 90-degree angle and then lifting your shoulders up off the ground. With both exercises, try to keep yourself in the position for between 30-60 seconds and then repeat 3-4 times. Your workout will look something like this:

Tempo Squat
High Plank
90-degree hold
Split Squat
Shoulder Taps
Bent Hollow hold
X3-4 Sets
(30-60 seconds each)

I always say it’s not about what the norm is or what anyone else is doing. It is always about you as an individual, where you were yesterday and where you are today. Your improvement can only be measured against yourself. Try and make this Ramadan a wonderfully beneficial Ramadan for you. Set a few targets and goals to achieve by the end of Ramadan, and start mapping out how you plan to achieve them. Make training your priority and do not compromise the integrity of it, no matter what attractive event comes in your way. By making your health and training a priority, you are making yourself a priority.

Deana Shaaban is a Performance Training Specialist at Ignite Egypt.
Instagram: @deanashaaban / @ignite.egypt

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