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Bariatric exercise is one of the ways of optimizing weight loss and living a healthy life after bariatric surgery. Strength training exercise will increase the tone of your muscle, gives you more balance and stable posture and prevent injuries such as sprain or fractures. It also increases the muscle bulk. The bulkier your muscle, the more calorie you will burn at rest and when you exercise.

Following bariatric surgery, there is loss of body fat with associated redundant skin. The redundant skin fold can be more prominent around the back aspect of the arm. Most patients will go for cosmetic surgery to address this. However, weight training can be beneficial in firming up these areas and reduce the unwanted skin folds especially when the sagging is not excessive. These are important tips towards your strength training exercise.

Adequate rest

Adequate rest is essential in between your strength training sessions. Muscles often get fatigued after strength training and therefore need to recover before another session. A period of 48 hours after one session should be free of activity to allow the muscles rest. This will help prevent muscle injuries. In addition, during each sessions of strength training, you should relax for few minutes before repeating the exercise.

Available options

Different options are available for strength training. Weight lifting is common but not the only way of performing a strength training exercise. You can visit your gym to access the other alternatives to weight lifting. Yoga, resistance bands and body weight exercise are other effective options.

Warm-ups and stretching

As for other types of exercise, warm-ups and stretching activities are essential preparation for a strength training exercise. They help prepare the heart to increase the volume and rate of pumping in order to provide adequate oxygen supply to the muscles. They also help release tight muscles and tendons, thus, preventing potential injuries.

Safety first

To use free weight or machine is a question most people will ask when it comes to strength training. However, as a beginner, machines are better as they provide safety features that prevent the weight from falling and injuring you. Free weights should only be used in the presence of a trainer.

Below are examples of different exercises to strengthen muscle groups in different parts of the body
For the upper part of the body, the dumbbell bench-press exercise can be used to strengthen the pectoral muscles on the chest. It is also a compound exercise as it simultaneously strengthens the triceps muscles on the back of the arm, the deltoid muscle on the shoulder and some upper back muscles. This exercise is performed by lying supine on a bench while a weight (barbell) is alternately pushed away and pulled towards the chest respectively. A bench press machine can also be used. Many variants of this exercise are also available to focus on a particular muscle.

The chest fly is another compound exercise that is used to strengthen the pectoral muscles. You lie supine on the bench and hold weights (e.g. dumbbell) on both hands. You then repeatedly spread out of your arms and bring them together above your chest.

Other exercises that can be used to strengthen the muscles of the chest and the shoulder are the pull down, the pull-up and the bent-over row, the shoulder press and shoulder fly.
The back of the arm has muscles known as triceps; responsible for extending the elbow as in pushing away an object. In contrast, the front of the arm contains the biceps and brachialis muscles which are responsible for flexing the elbow as in pulling an object towards oneself.

The dumbbell triceps extension, also known as the French curl, is a strengthening exercise for the triceps muscles. It is done in a standing or seating position with weights (dumbbell) held in both hands raised above the head to ensure that the arms are fully extended.

The biceps curl helps strengthen the biceps muscles on the front of the arm. Both arms can be used simultaneously or one at a time. The two hands hold separate weights and you curl them up towards the shoulder repeatedly. Other exercises for upper limbs are: cable-incline triceps extension, kneeling extensions, and one arm curl.

The leg extension is used to strengthen the quadriceps muscles. These are muscles on the front aspect of the thighs. They are responsible for knee extension. You can perform this in a sitting position with weight placed in front of your ankles while you support your body weight with your hands resting on a support on both sides. You then use your feet to elevate this weight. This is often done in the gym by the physical therapist.

Many strength training exercises are available for patients after bariatric surgery. However, they are best done with appropriate equipment and under the supervision of a physical therapist in other to prevent injury.

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