Is Building Muscle Possible After Gastric Sleeve Surgery?

Building Muscle After Gastric Sleeve Surgery in Los Angeles, CA

Gastric sleeve surgery intends to help you lose up to 60% to 80% of your excess weight.

The surgery causes a rapid reduction in weight in the first year and a half, with long-term success being the overall goal.

Gastric sleeve surgery can give you a slimmer waist and a greater outlook on life, and bariatric surgery can also make you healthier.

Studies show that the significant weight loss precipitated by the gastric sleeve (laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy) also contributes to an improvement in various obesity comorbidities.

That means that if you suffer from weight-related illnesses like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea, and osteoarthritis, the gastric sleeve could lessen their severity or make them disappear altogether.

Dropping the excess weight also has a profound effect on limiting your risks of cancer and early death.

Gastric sleeve surgery helps you lose weight by restricting the amount of food you can eat.

Hormonal changes during surgery also make you feel fuller faster during meals and less hungry overall.

To maximize weight loss, your bariatric surgeon will advise that you exercise regularly.

One way to exercise following gastric sleeve surgery is to engage in muscle-building exercises.

Building muscle will help you lose the most weight, contributing to greater and faster weight loss following your bariatric procedure.

The question is: is building muscle after gastric sleeve surgery possible? If so, how much can you gain, and which is the best way to build muscle for greater weight loss success?

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Does Gastric Sleeve Contribute to Greater Muscle Mass?

A woman laying on an exercise ball in a gym.
A woman laying on an exercise ball in a gym.

Not only is building more muscle mass possible after gastric sleeve surgery, but engaging in muscle building should be one of your most crucial goals in your new health plan.

Building muscle is most important in the first year after bariatric surgery.

When you initially lose weight with a gastric sleeve, part of that weight loss will be muscle mass.

Studies show that bariatric patients can lose up to 33% of their pre-surgery muscle mass in the first year if they fail to add strength training to their exercise regimens.

A third of your muscle mass is a massive loss that can be prevented.

Doesn’t Being Obese Build Muscle Mass?

Carrying extra weight around indeed gives you more muscle mass than someone of average size. However, that muscle is considered low-quality because it’s riddled with fatty tissue.

Building up muscle slowly following a gastric sleeve procedure can help you build quality muscle that, helps you eliminate more fat.

Weight Training Post-Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Weight training may feel difficult in the weeks after your gastric sleeve procedure. During this time, your body is healing. To compound matters, you’ll be placed on a limited-calorie diet, which could leave you feeling weaker than usual.

As a bariatric surgery patient, you have finally drawn a line in the sand against obesity. You have taken a step toward improving your health. Show your commitment toward becoming healthier by working through the weakness and feelings of malnourishment.

Muscle loss is one of the problems with losing rapid amounts of weight. You must retain as much muscle as possible. Doing so will help the pounds melt away while improving your appearance every step of the way.

Having more muscle mass boosts your metabolism, which turns your body into a fat-burning oven.

More muscle improves skin tone, greater balance, and untold mobility. You’ll also be less susceptible to injury.

When to Start Weight Training After Gastric Sleeve

You should only start a weight training program after fully recovering from the gastric sleeve procedure. Your doctor will usually recommend a recovery period of six weeks before a weight training program can be considered.

Start slowly with gentle movements to prevent injury. The key is to ease into the exercise program. There is no need to rush. Getting used to the movements is more important until they become second nature.

When it comes to how to build muscle, that’s entirely up to you! Search for exercise routines that spark your interest, and that seem fun. Whether it’s a bodyweight exercise program on YouTube or a kettlebell class at your local gym, consistency is important.

You don’t have to do the same routine every day, week, or month. Switch it up and experiment with different exercises and programs. Be sure to rest for a day or two between exercise sessions, particularly as a beginner.

Gains are Made in the Kitchen

All your hard work in the gym will be for naught without adequate muscle-building protein.

Choose lean protein sources to incorporate into your meals, such as eggs, beans, protein shakes, and lean meat.

You’ll also want to keep your hydration in check. Drinking plenty of water can ensure your body works adequately and remains low risk for injuries. Sleeping and watching your stress levels can also help you build muscle and maintain optimal health.

Do Bariatric Surgery Patients Need to Track Macronutrients?

Sample Exercises for Building Muscle After Gastric Sleeve

A woman laying on a yoga mat on a wooden floor.
A woman laying on a yoga mat on a wooden floor.

You don’t need expensive weights or a gym membership to build muscle after gastric sleeve (at least at first).

You can use body weight and a few household items to give your muscles the resistance they need to grow.

Building muscle is about stressing the muscles in controlled methods, which forces them to get stronger.

The following bodyweight routine can be performed in your living room or garage.

Each exercise is broken down by the body part and is followed by the number of sets and repetitions you should follow.


Wall Pushups (Push away from the wall): 3 sets of 8-15 repetitions


Lift milk jugs full of water or sand straight overhead, then lower back to your shoulder: 3 sets of 8-15 repetitions.


Curl milk jugs full of water or sand from a lowered position to each shoulder (both arms): 3 sets of 8-15 repetitions.


Overhead triceps extensions (Lift a milk jug full of sand or water overhead and slowly lower the jug, bending your elbow until the jug is behind your head. You should feel the pull in your triceps muscle. Slowly extend back up to an overhead position): 3 sets of 8-15 repetitions


Stand from sitting squats (Sit in a chair and stand up, then lower yourself as slowly as you can): 3 sets of 8-15 repetitions.


Calf raises (From a seated or standing position, raise yourself onto your tippy-toes, then lower back down): 3 sets of 8-15 repetitions.

This beginner routine can be performed in the mornings or evenings, three times per week, for an excellent muscle-building program after gastric sleeve surgery.

Your bariatric surgeon can give you more personalized advice regarding building muscle as a gastric sleeve patient.

Muscle Building Tips for Bariatric Surgery Patients

A woman doing a yoga pose in a room.
A woman doing a yoga pose in a room.

Do Not Rush!

Building muscle is not about racing to the finish line. It’s about slow, controlled movements. This helps to make the muscle stronger and keeps you safe. If you overdo it, you could hurt yourself, putting your strength training efforts back for weeks or months. Go slowly, and you’re more likely to stick with your muscle-building routine long-term.

Get Help

Your bariatric surgeon may be able to recommend fitness instructors you can turn to for help. Most gyms also offer free orientation and access to personal trainers.

If you want to save money, consider asking friends and family who have more experience in weight training than you do.

Of course, you can always find strength-building routines on YouTube or elsewhere online. Once you learn how to work your body properly, you’ll get creative with your fitness, maximizing your results.

Don’t Forget to Progress

Lifting a milk jug full of sand over your head may initially seem tough. Over time, you’ll find yourself lifting that jug with no problem. That’s a sign that you should go up in the weight you lift. Lifting more weight will make you stronger and help you drop even more excess pounds!

Watch the Cardio

Cardiovascular exercise is critical for health, but don’t overdo it. Try to do cardio on days when you won’t be strength training. This lets your body focus its energy and resources on building muscle and maximizing fat loss.


Stretching before and after each of your strength training routines will help you avoid injury, improve your flexibility, and reduce soreness.

Ready to Discuss Gastric Sleeve Surgery and What it Can Do for You?

A gastric sleeve can help you live a healthier life. Building muscle after gastric sleeve helps you become even healthier by giving you greater strength, energy, a better mood, higher self-esteem, and even greater fat loss!

You can find out if you’re a good candidate for gastric sleeve surgery by calling Healthy Life Bariatrics, home of world-renowned bariatric surgeon Dr. Babak Moeinolmolki.

Why Choose Weight Loss Surgeon Dr. Babak Moeinolmolki?

Dr. Moein is a board-certified bariatric surgeon with decades of hands-on experience. Dr. Moein is also one of the few surgeons nationwide who is trained in minimally invasive bariatric surgery and post-bariatric body contouring. You could lose weight and have your dream body by choosing Dr. Moein as your bariatric surgeon.

Call Dr. Moein today to schedule your initial consultation – (310)861-7844.

Dr. Babak Moeinolmolki
December 20, 2021
Dr. Babak Moeinolmolki
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