Can You Build Muscle After Gastric Sleeve? 3 FREE Routines You Can Start Now

Written by Philip Duncan

The biggest benefit of gastric sleeve surgery it will allow you to lose a substantial amount of weight that was not otherwise attainable through regular diet and exercise.

However, losing all that weight won’t just be body fat. It’s possible that you will also lose lean body mass, or muscle, in the process. Keeping this from happening is pretty much unavoidable seeing that all bariatric patients have lots of weight to lose prior to surgery.

Now, this does not mean that just because you lose muscle in the process that it is impossible to ever get it back. It just means it might be a little bit harder and take a little more work than you have been used to in the past.

This article is going to layout the right way to approach your new post-op life in regards to being as healthy as possible while also giving yourself the best chance to get some of that muscle back.

First, what is gastric sleeve surgery?

In short, it is a bariatric surgical procedure that is performed by removing roughly 80% of the stomach. This means that your stomach will not be able to hold nearly as much food after surgery, which in turn will allow for greater weight loss.

How much you lose and how healthy you are post-op will be up to you, so let’s dive in!

Exercise after bariatric surgery

You will not be able to immediately start exercising again following your surgery. It is usually recommended that you wait at least 6-8 weeks before resuming any kind of physical activity, aside from walking.

Wait 6 to 8 weeks before exercising after gastric sleeve surgery

When it comes to building muscle after surgery, we will be looking at resistance training or lifting weights. If your goal is to put some muscle back on post-op then resistance training will be your best friend.

Now, we know that not everyone enjoys lifting weights and your access to weights or certain equipment could differ from the next person, so we are going to show you that it is possible to build muscle regardless of your situation.

Above all else, it is vitally important that you get on a good routine and stick with it consistently. Long term success cannot be achieved without consistency!

Consistency with a workout program is the only way to see results

Since you will still be adjusting to your new body and rapid weight loss, you don’t want to dive in headfirst and overdo it. This can lead to injury and even burnout which will lead to you not sticking to your routine.

Here are three simple yet effective routines that anyone can do following surgery:

One day per week post bariatric workout program

2 day per week post bariatric workout program

3 day per week post bariatric surgery workout program

When it comes to building muscle, which is also referred to as “muscle hypertrophy”, one must properly train and eat.

Building muscle after gastric sleeve surgery is achieved through a combination of sets, reps, exercises, and types of equipment used. (ie. free weights, machines, bands, body weight, etc…)

It is typically known that if your goal is to build muscle you would aim for 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps for each exercise.

What this will do is allow you to lift a moderate amount of weight but for enough sets and reps to achieve muscle hypertrophy.

However, no matter how hard you workout, you won’t achieve optimal muscle hypertrophy if you aren’t properly nourishing the body (ie. protein), which we will look at in the next section.

Now, you might notice some soreness one to two days after working out, especially in the beginning, but this is perfectly okay and expected. This is known as “delayed onset muscle soreness” or DOMS.

This just means that your body is adapting to the new exercises and this will eventually get better as time goes on and you progress through your workouts.

Bariatric fitness level progression

You will also see faster improvements in both muscle and strength in the beginning, which is due to your body being hyper-responsive to the new stimulus of working out which means attaining goals at first is much easier.

After some time, your body will have adjusted to the new lifestyle of working out consistently, thus slowing down your progress. But don’t stress over this because this is just part of the process and happens to everyone, both bariatric and non-bariatric.

Why would I want to gain muscle after gastric sleeve surgery?

Now, you might be asking yourself, why would I want to gain muscle?

Not only will being in better shape with more muscle allow you to feel healthier, but it also has a number of other benefits:

  • Increased strength
  • Increased calorie burn at rest
  • More energy
  • Better mood
  • Higher self-esteem
  • Everyday tasks become easier
gaining muscle after gastric sleeve surgery. helps with all functional areas of life post op

Having more muscle and less fat will allow you to become more functional which in turn leads to you being able to do the activities you love with the people you love.

Life after surgery can be hard enough, so why not do everything you can to increase your chance for success as well as improving your quality of life.

The importance of protein for building muscle

Protein is key in regards to building muscle, but we want to make sure that we are getting our protein from good lean sources.

It is important to get adequate amounts of protein each day to ensure that you are able to build/maintain muscle. It is impossible to gain or maintain muscle without protein, so please take this section seriously.

Here are the protein requirements for the different types of surgeries:

Protein requirements for recovery post gastric sleeve surgery

Gastric Sleeve and Gastric Bypass:

  • Women – 60 grams
  • Men – 75 grams


  • Men and women – 90 grams

As you can see for sleeve and bypass patients the requirements are different for men and women. BPD/DS patients also have a higher required amount due to the surgery being more extensive.

These numbers are minimums so if your doctor or dietitian tells you to eat more protein than what we listed, then by all means listen.

Now, let’s take a look at some good protein sources:

Eat high quality protein to help gain muscle after gastric sleeve surgery
  • Lean ground turkey
  • Lean ground beef
  • Lean ground chicken
  • Chicken breast
  • Protein shakes
  • Fat-free Greek yogurt
  • Low-fat cottage cheese

If you are a vegetarian, there are still plenty of ways to incorporate protein into your diet. Eggs, beans, and tofu are good sources.

Protein bars and shakes made from products like soy, whey, brown rice, and other plant-based products are great choices as well.

Just make sure the protein source is lean and low in fat. This will keep the calories low and allow you to fuel your body with the proper nutrients.

Sleep and hydration

While diet and exercise are vitally important, one must make sure to stay properly hydrated with water throughout the day as well as getting enough sleep.

Working out is where you are breaking down your muscles so they can come back stronger. This can’t be effectively achieved if you aren’t drinking enough water or getting enough sleep.

When sleeping, your body is recovering from the exercise and stress that you put your body through during your workout.

Sleep is important for gaining strength after gastric sleeve surgery

If your sleep suffers then your body will suffer and you won’t recover the way you should. This can lead to feeling lethargic and unmotivated which can lead to missed workouts and falling behind.

Please don’t neglect the importance of sleep and staying properly hydrated.

Key takeaways

When it comes to your success after surgery, you will always need diet and exercise, so make sure you stick with it and if you happen to fall off track just jump right back into it.

When it comes to adding and preserving muscle, protein is king, so make sure you are eating enough protein every day.

No matter how good your diet is, your body will need consistent exercise, mainly resistance training, in order to not only gain muscle but maintain it as well.

Being leaner, with more muscle, and less fat will allow you to be more functional and make everyday tasks easier as well as allowing you to do the activities you love.

Pair diet and exercise with proper sleep and hydration, and you will be well on your way to a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life.


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