Maxwell Strength & Conditioning Blog

Enjoy a peek at the world through Steve's eyes as he delivers sermons on everything from training to peace of mind.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Practical Training Tips for Ramadan

I've received many requests this year for help training through the Ramadan fast, and here are some practical tips I've compiled. While no authority on Ramadan, I do have decades of experience in training myself and my clients, with good success, in the face of daunting social constraints and schedules.

In general, I'm recommending to reduce the intensity of training for the duration.


I've been recommending to commence training just before the evening, about 45-minutes before Iftar, the breaking the fast. Get yourself going with a quick warm-up, even using a treadmill if you must, moving into a jog for a few minutes to get the lymph moving, then do your strength training. The key to overcoming the inertia is to get the body moving and warmed up which also freshens the mind and helps you remember your fitness goals. I like jumping rope, but jumping jacks, or simply jogging about, outdoors or indoors, will work.

If you can't schedule an evening workout for some reason, I recommend to rise early and get some activity in while the mind is fresh. Some mobility work is always beneficial, and you will feel good about it the rest of the day.

For BJJ and other martial arts, train only with guys you can trust, and prioritize skills and drills over power. Look at it this way: A month of light, technical training will do you a lot of good in your growth trajectory in the big picture. You can benefit from this time if you work it like a scientific experiment, with systematic control and analysis, instead of seeing it as an obstacle to your training.

Here's the abbreviated BW workout:

Brief warm up:

3-5 minutes of rope skipping or light bouncing and jogging in place

  1. Chin-ups
  2. Dips
  3. Slow Squats (10:10 cadence) while facing the wall
  4. Body weight rows
  5. Reverse Plank on chair
  6. Dand Push ups
  7. Elbow Plank
  8. Single-leg Calf-Raise

**All upper-body movements are done in a 5:5 cadence. Lower body are 10:10 cadence. See comments below.

Wall squat

All of these exercises are included in the Five Pillars Workout System video series, also available as a mobile app on iTunes and Google

Re: cadence, rep cadence for the upper-body exercises is 5:5, and for the squats 10:10

The meaning of 10:10 cadence is to lower yourself into the knee bend over 10-seconds time and also take a full 10-seconds to rise up back to the starting position. That is, 20-seconds count for each rep. Apply this accordingly to the upper-body movements.

Use a metronome app -- I like this one called Pace Clock -- to keep track and do NOT lock out the knees.

Reverse plank

For those who favor Kettlebells, here is your workout:

3 trainings sessions per week/ 3 exercises only:

  • KB Breathing Swings (1-15 = 100 reps) (1 swing/1 breath; 2 swings/2 breaths; 3 swings/3 breaths... and so on) (nasal inhalations only)
  • Reverse Get-ups (5 per hand, switching hands each rep)
  • Weighted Pull-Ups (no more than 15 reps per workout)

Indoor kettlebell

All of these exercises are included in the KB 5-Pillars Workout System video series, also available as a mobile app on iTunes and Google

As far as meals, especially for early morning, opt to eat lightly, moderately, or not at all.


(one of the following)

  • dates
  • sesame seeds chewed up into paste and swallowed
  • piece of halvah
  • walnuts
  • soaked dried figs
  • compote of apples, pears, or dried fruits
  • almonds
  • glass of juice, fresh grapefruit or sweet orange or pomegranate
  • rose water lassi
  • fresh grapefruit


  • soaked oats w/ apple
  • Tahini-banana shake
  • breakfast rice pudding
  • toast with tahini and honey


  • water
  • mint tea
  • lemonade with honey

For dinner, have animal protein (or plant protein if you prefer) with raw green leaves and vegetable salad, if there is something else you want or is customary, let me know if you have a question about it.

For later evening, have fresh fruit or sweet dessert -- if you did training.

Organize the meals in the following way:

  • fruit meal
  • starch meal
  • animal protein w/ salad + cooked, non-starchy vegetables

These meals can be taken in any order, but I recommend either fruit or sweet for late night, that is, if you want sweet or pudding late night, then have fruit or juice for early morning. If you have porridge or pudding or banana shake for brekkie, then have fruit for later evening. Organize it this way.

Above all, do not overeat in the non-fasting hours. Try your best to be as normal as possible. Do not let all the Aunties and in-laws over feed you. There will be a crowd well-meaning ladies insisting that you must eat more to "keep up your strength", but this is not so. Your strength does not come from food! In fact, the denial of excess food, in this case, will make you stronger than food (or supplements) ever will. Tell them you must go to your study for quiet contemplation and mustn't be disturbed. Ramaden is a month-long challenge, but your physical training is for the purpose of developing your male virtue, and as such, should be given some priority. I recommend to rest at least twice as much as usual and say "no" four times as much as usual.

  • Reduce training intensity to accommodate your energy level
  • Do not stay up late
  • Better to skip breakfast, or eat only lightly, and rest more
  • Take a 45-90 minute nap each afternoon, especially if you will be up late

Off days, stick with Walking-Breathing Ladders, but to include a description would make a second blog. Watch the video below for some explanation

Gimme Five is also available as a mobile app on iTunes and Google.

Below are a few recipes off the web. I haven't tested them but they are something like I might eat. If any so-called training expert tells you you need some supplement or specialty protein to survive or keep muscle during the fast, it's simply untrue and such charlatan advice should be disregarded. Progressive resistance training is enough food for muscular growth and maintenance.

In Strength and Health!

Steve Maxwell


Soaked Oats Porridge

yields 2 1/2 cups


  • 1 cup raw, rolled oats (soak overnight in 2 cups water, then drain in the morning)
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 chopped apple, peeled and cored
  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 Tbsp raisins or other dried fruit
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Dash of salt


  • Soak oats overnight and then drain, rinsing them till the water runs clear
  • In blender combine the oats, chia seeds, and 1-1/2 cup water, and raisins. Blend until creamy
  • Add the chopped apple, cinnamon and salt. Blend till creamy
  • Optional: Top porridge with more raisins , diced apple, and sprinkle some cinnamon on top.


Tahini Banana Shake


  • 1 cup almond milk or milk of choice (nut-free if necessary)
  • 2 frozen ripe banana, sliced
  • 4 tablespoons tahini
  • 4 Medjool dates
  • Pinch cinnamon


In a blender, combine the milk, frozen banana, tahini, dates, and cinnamon. Blend until smooth. If you'd like to lighten it up, blend in some ice as well.


Overnight Breakfast Rice Pudding

Makes 2 servings


  • 1 cup cooked white rice
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cashew milk (can also use almond, rice, or coconut milk)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 cup dried raisins or other dried sweet fruit


  • Place the rice, milk, cinnamon, honey, and dried fruit in a bowl and mix everything together.
  • Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. Serve with walnuts or almonds on the side.

** You can also heat to serve warm.


Rosewater lassi


  • 2 1/2 cups plain yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sugar
  • 2 teaspoons good rosewater
  • 3/4 cups Ice water
  • 1 cup Ice cubes


  • Blend yogurt, sugar, rose water, and ice water in a blender for 2 minutes.
  • Add ice and process for another 2 minutes. Pour the lassi into tall glasses

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