Can HIIT be done during Ramadan? Actually, the better question is, should HIIT be avoided during Ramadan? HIIT is high intensity interval training, and anybody who has performed this type of exercise, in its truest form, knows that after just a 20 minute session, you’ll feel hammered. Because you were.
I’m a certified personal trainer and I consulted with Amin Akhtar, a Muslim and NSCA-certified personal trainer, as well as former track athlete, based in NYC. He explains, “A Muslim who is not a professional athlete or an athlete who needs to peak during Ramadan or shortly thereafter, should view Ramadan as a chance to recover and schedule his yearly workout plan around building up to peak condition immediately before Ramadan, and then beginning and maintaining a recovery cycle during Ramadan.”
High intensity interval training leaves the body in a carbohydrate-starved state. If you think you know what this means, you are exactly right: “There is no HIIT during daylight hours, period,” says Akhtar, regarding Ramadan.
He continues, “HIIT burns muscle glycogen and causes profuse perspiration. If water, glucose and protein are not replaced within two hours after a workout, you may begin an overtraining cycle regardless of how much extra body mass you have.”
Replenishment of lost glycogen during high intensity interval training comes from food/beverages. Another thing to consider, if you’re wondering about conducting HIIT sessions during Ramadan’s fasting periods, is your capacity to sustain a high intensity interval training workout without taking a drop of water.
A month without high intensity interval training will not sabotage your training progress if your body is already used to this kind of training year-round. However, if you are new to high intensity interval training, and have been just getting used to it — both physically and mentally — then the omission of HIIT during the observance of Ramadan will make a noticeable difference.
You will be aware of that difference after Ramadan is over and you return to HIIT. In that event, don’t jump back into it, or you’ll risk injury, unless you use a non-impact mode such as a stationary bike. But even then, you’ll most likely notice a performance deficit. Be patient and don’t get ahead of yourself, especially if your cardio mode of choice is the treadmill or outdoor sessions. Rushing back into HIIT can result in a pulled or strained hamstring, or even bursitis in the hip.