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How to Build Muscle After Weight Loss Surgery: 6 Tips for Success

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Weight loss surgery is a tool that can help you lose weight, but it isn’t a quick fix. Even with bariatric surgery, such as gastric bypass or the trademarked and patented Mini Sleeve, developing healthy habits is key to helping you reach your weight loss goal.


After weight loss surgery, exercise — both cardio/aerobic exercise and strength training — is critical to your success. Weight loss surgery is designed to restrict the amount of food you can eat, but adding physical activity into the mix can help you reach your goal weight more quickly, and help you maintain the weight loss over time.


Working out after weight loss surgery (particularly strength training) helps build muscle mass, which in turn increases metabolism and helps you burn more fat and lose weight. Cardio helps keep your heart strong and healthy. Both are essential for overall health and fitness.


Are you ready to add exercise into your routine and start building muscle? Here are some tips to help you get started.


  1. Talk to your doctor.

Before beginning any exercise regimen, be sure your doctor has cleared you for the type of activity you plan to do. It may also help to ask your doctor what exercises might be best for you. In most cases, bariatric patients are cleared for exercise soon after surgery, but each case is unique, so consult with your physician first.


  1. Take it slow.

If you are new to exercise, start slow. Going too hard right out of the gate could lead to burnout, and it can also make your body more prone to injury. Give yourself time to adjust to your new active lifestyle. Aim for 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise most days of the week to start, and slowly work up from there.


  1. Be patient.

Remember: You didn’t gain the weight overnight, and you won’t reach your goal weight overnight either. Focus on making steady, consistent progress toward your goals and celebrating your milestones, and you’ll be less likely to get discouraged along the way.


  1. Change things up.

If you do the same exercises day after day, your body will adapt and you won’t see as much improvement as you will if you change things up regularly. Keeping variety in your workouts will also help keep you from getting bored. Swimming, jogging or walking, cycling, rowing, Zumba, yoga, HIIT, Pilates — these are just a few examples of the variety of exercises you can explore.


  1. Focus on strength training.

If building muscle is your goal, focus on weight lifting and bodyweight exercises to increase your strength. Incorporate strength training into your workouts three times per week for 30 minutes per session. Again, start slow and easy, gradually increasing weight and reps. Do strength training before cardio, or save your aerobic exercises for days you aren’t lifting weights. Women: Don’t worry about “bulking up” with weights. Building muscle can help you attain a toned, fit look.


  1. Work with a trainer.

Even if you don’t have a gym membership, you can schedule an appointment with a certified personal trainer who can help devise a workout plan that meets your individual needs and will help you achieve your goals. Scheduling regular sessions with a trainer can help you stay motivated and on track. If working with a trainer isn’t an option, find a workout buddy who will hold you accountable and exercise alongside you.


Exercise with a focus on building muscle after weight loss surgery is a critical component to your journey to success. The hard part is over — you’ve made the decision to have weight loss surgery. Now’s it’s time to commit to the lifestyle changes that will help you reach your goals.