Five Important Post Surgery Workout Must Do’s for Quicker Training Results

Woman holding medicine ball

Starting the transition back into exercise can be uncomfortable

In February, I had keyhole surgery to remove endometriosis and a hysterectomy. My surgeon previously told me that I had to take at least a month off working — which I didn’t do! But the ultimate task was to not do any form of exercise for at least seven weeks. Now, this was a tough one for me. It’s tough for anyone on a mission toward better health and a solid and lean body. Without exercise, I can’t achieve the goals I set to accomplish by 2022. So weight training is my favourite way to work out; it’s also a massive part of my mental health strategy. When the moment finally arrived to do some exercise (walking was my only alternative), I was beyond happy! I started taking slow (very slow, in fact) and small, deliberate steps towards being able to power walk on an incline at my usual fast pace. It took a few weeks, but I did it, and then. As a result, part of my strength came back, and I could walk longer distances without tiring myself out. 

Everyone’s transition back into exercise is based on a couple of things:

  • Our rate of recovery
  • What the surgical procedure was
  • Our surgeon’s recommendations.

But in this post, I wanted to highlight a couple of things that helped me prepare for the DOMS filled journey that lies ahead of me. 

One: Be clear about your goals moving forward

If you are recovering from injury, and want to strengthen your body, then weights should be your prime focus for the time being. If you have put on some added weight whilst in recovery, it’s probably better to focus on getting rid of excess body fat before you jump into a building phase. If you know what your strengths are, focus on them. At the moment, I’m putting all of my efforts into the building phase. I am getting back all that lost muscle and building a foundation again. But, this time around, I’m not focusing on fat loss. But it might transition to that later on down the track. Your focus now will not be your focus forever. We will have to run with life and see where it takes us. It’s best to direct the energy you have and will follow one thing. Then, we can branch out later. 

Two: Stay away from using the injured or target area for now

I know I can’t deadlift right now, even though it hurts not to. I understand that this is the best exercise that will push my results towards higher levels. But, it’s the one exercise that could do some damage to my pelvis and abdomen. So, my basic foundation is to use multi-joint movements that avoid using my abdomen to pull weight upward. Of course, that leaves a few options, but — you have to work with what you’ve got. Work out exercise regimes that target particular muscles and avoid the injured or operated area depending on your injury. Its’ not going to be like this forever — but we have to exercise some flexibility to ensure we’re not under the knife again because of our over-enthusiasm! 

Three: Don’t do every single exercise on day one

This can be tempting. You have a bit of newly accumulated energy in your back pocket — and since you’ve been away from the gym for so long, it can become super tempting to go at it hard. And that’s what we would usually do — but not today. Not for a while! The good news is that we probably won’t have the energy or capacity to do this right away, and the build will slowly start to accumulate over time. But, I know the guilty feelings I have when the fatigue sets in, and I want to perform three sets of one exercise. But I don’t have the energy for it. Usually, I would just do it anyway — but with age comes wisdom, and I now know better. Take it slow — focus on the things you can do and forget about the high-level training that you “feel like doing”  It’s almost certain that exercise is off-limits — and you should proceed with caution. Instead, think about your health and long term goals. It doesn’t matter if you cannot bench press because you can do a shoulder press instead or hundreds of other exercises. Play slow and without guilt. Soon enough, you’ll get to that peak state again. 

Four: Go light

When I went back to the gym on Friday, I was surprised at how much I could lift — but still went low. I’m glad I did because it helped me complete more sets and build my strength from the bottom up. Going light allows us to practice our technique and the correct form and posture. We might also perform more reps -which is still an outstanding achievement. Going heavy is when we have been training for weeks and feel more than ready to tackle the hard stuff. It doesn’t need to happen on the first or 5th day back. Rest assured that lighter training is still practical. Remember, your baseline during nursing an injury was probably not much! But it’s better than lying on the couch! 

Five: Low intensity at all times

It’s not good to throw yourself into a group training regime. Something like HIIT or CrossFit might see you developing even more issues on top of what you already have to deal with. On the other hand, it’s always tempting to start back on your competitive streak, especially when you watch other people do things you once performed with ease. For the best interests of your health, start by practising these specific movements without any weight (or very lightweight) and work on your form instead of trying to hit up the load. Exercises such as cleaning and pressing are easier to do with just the bar. Or maybe you want to deadlift — use the hex bar instead. Adaptation is one of your most prized goals right now. Allow your body to start adapting towards the lower end of the scale — and slowly add in weights every week to get you up to speed. 

Key takeaways

Giving myself eight weeks to get my definition back. Authors image It will take some time to get back into your regular exercise regime. I am giving myself about eight weeks, with constant and committed effort — 3–4 times per week. We must also pay attention to nutrition and ensure that it’s in line with our goals.  Your level of weight tolerance will always depend on the particular injury or surgical procedure, so do caution yourself and stop when you feel uncomfortable or tired. This is not the time to keep pushing on. This situation might help you build up a lot more conscious awareness of your body’s feelings and reactions to a particular exercise. Pay close attention now, and when you can finally lift that kind of volume, you’re working towards.

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