Hernias are unfortunately not repairable without surgery and the recovering time after surgery can vary so listen to your doctor first and foremost. Having had two hernia surgeries myself I can attest to taking your time getting back to the heavy weights. Moving around can be a great thing and speed up your road to recovery however laying off the weights can be too. So below we go through the exact timeline you should take to getting back to lifting.
How Soon After Hernia Surgery Can You Lift?
After hernia surgery you will not be able to lift anything over 15 pounds for the first two weeks minimum. This is not saying that you can lift dumbbells up to 15 lbs this just means any one thing that is over 15. After going through 182 responses of actual weightlifter we found that over 82% of them stated to getting back to weightlifting was 6-8 weeks.
Lifting too early can be a catastrophic set back into reaggravating the initial hernia. So take it slow and listen to your body. Below are some more stats of the responses we went through:
- 6 Weeks Recovery – 82% Back to full abilities including Lifting Weights
- 8 Weeks Light Lifting – 11% 8 weeks before any lifting and to start out light until you get comfortable.
- 4 Weeks No Core Engagement – 5% stated make sure not to engage your core whatsoever the first 4 weeks.
When Can I Lift After Hernia Surgery?
We didn't want you to only take our word for it so we went out and scoured the internet for Real Weightlifters who have had hernia surgery and when they started lifting again. This information was curated from forums, websites, and sub reddits meaning nothing has been changed except any spelling and grammar where needed.
Real Weightlifters With Hernia Surgery
1. Rusty “Back to full form 6 weeks” – I had an inguinal hernia repaired and was told not to lift anything over 5 pounds for two weeks. After that was two weeks of light duty and doing more as I felt comfortable. Back to full abilities at 6 weeks. I kinda cut my recovery time short and called myself good at around 3 or 4 weeks.. I felt fine. I would say just kind of ease into things and see how you feel. But the first week you probably won't want to do much of anything.
2. Trevor “8 to 10 weeks” – Off work for 6 weeks. My doctor didn't want to send me back to work due to my physical job. I kind of limited myself in lifting the first few weeks after restrictions lifted just cause it was in my head and I didn't want to tear it or have another. You should be good to resume where you're at lifting wise in 8 to 10 weeks conservatively.
3. Jeremy “Treat recovery like physical therapy” – Ease into it and let your confidence build. Every rep you'll feel a little better, coming out of injury is tough. Always paranoid you're gonna blow something out and prolong recovery. Just go slow, you need work to heal properly. Treat it like physical therapy and you'll be alright
4. Craig “6 weeks” – My doc had me out 6. That was for lifting and going back to work as a firefighter. I still think that was a week to soon
5. Brian “Leave your ego at the door” – Do some light stretching though out your day, and when you go to the gym leave the EGO at the door. Start light and work your way back into it bro. You've got this!
6. Alex “8 weeks before light lifting” – Having had surgery on an umbilical hernia i would advise resting and recovering as long as possible, around 8 weeks post surgery before lifting light weights, rush back and your asking for a reoccurring problem that becomes weakened every time. Start light after 8 weeks and build confidence, it took me a long while to start lifting heavy again. Don't listen to any dickhead that says oh i started back a week later or the likes of… Its all about longevity.
7. Dave “Take it slow” – An extra week or two out of the gym may suck, but a couple of months out would be worse if you re-injure. Start slow and maybe take this time to work on some areas your normally wouldn’t; flexibility, mobility, posture correction etc.
8. Brad “4 weeks keep away from engaging core” – I had umbilical hernia surgery a few years ago. Was out of lifting for about 4 weeks. Started slow. It helped to sit on the bench when doing curls and shoulder raises because it didn’t engage the core as much. Start light and ease back into it.
9. Ethen “6-8 weeks” – Start slow, really slow! I think I waited 6-8 weeks. You literally lose all your core strength. Been there before. Had a umbilical hernia l, got surgery. No problem . About year later I got it back. Been living with it for 2-3 years now. If it’s sore just take the extra rest. Unfortunately once it happens once, it’s likely to happen again if you train hard. I was lifting heavy one day and bam it came back lol.
10. Jeremy “Start with Bodyweight Workouts” – Start slow and controlled. Body weight is the way to go until you feel comfortable and strong. You can still get a lot of good work done with just body weight. Either way, listen to the body it’ll tell you and good luck with your recovery.
11. Andrew “3 months to heavyweights” – I waited six weeks post-op then went right back at it. You aren’t going to come back out of the gates lifting what you did so there’s no reason to “ease in to it” the repair is either going to hold up or not… Get back after it and don’t look back. 3 months post-op I was back to heavy ass lifts with no issues. The more you lift like you were the less fear and hesitation you’ll have as you see there isn’t any issues.
12. Jake “A few weeks to lightweights” – You just have to get back at it. Do light workouts and pay attention to what your body is telling you. If it hurts don't do it. I had 3 hernias fixed about 6 months ago and after a few weeks the pain went away. Just remember your body will talk to you. Listen
13. Andrew K “4 weeks before starting to push it at all” – I had hernia surgery last summer after testing a mesh hernia repair from 5 years ago, while squatting. Waited about 4 weeks then ran a bit, gingerly. Got back into upper body lifting pretty quick. Started with light overhead squats for legs. Figured that would help keep the weight lighter, and be more technical. Didn’t want to squat heavy for a while. I’m still a little gunshy. But I’ll get back to it doc said it was all fine.
Is There A Way To Prevent Hernias When Weightlifting?
There are some easy tips and tricks that can help you prevent a hernia from ever occurring while lifting weights:
- Never Hold your breath – always breath
- Strengthen core – work your core out everything or at least 3 times a week
- Master your form before going heavy – especially during the big compound lifts: bench, squat and deadlift
- Warm up light then go heavy – warm up your body with light weights before going heavy
Can You Go To The Gym After Hernia Surgery?
You can go back to the Gym within 4 weeks of having hernia surgery you will just not being doing any heavy lifting and mostly non-impact workouts like riding recumbent bike.
Is It Safe To Lift Weights With A Inguinal Hernia?
In most cases it is safe to still lift weights with a inguinal hernia as long as you are using good form, not lifting to heavy and remember to breath correctly. Also a good option would be to move any standing workouts where your core is engaged to sitting. On top of this doing core exercises in off days to strengthen the muscles around the hernia may help as well.
Will My Belly Button Look Normal After Hernia Surgery?
Yes your belly button will look normal after you recover from hernia surgery. There will only be up to a two inch incision below the belly button so there will be a scar. If you use scar treatment like mederma it will be minimal over time.
At first it will probably look bad and even worse if they glue it like they did mine. I had though it was really bad with bruising and the incision until I found out they had injected blood thinner there and what I was looking at was the glue.
Bodybuilding After Hernia Surgery
It will take some time to get back to body building usually around 3 months so take it slow. In the mean time focus on your diet and getting your mobility back after the first 4 weeks. After about 6 weeks you can start hitting the gym with light weights just listen to your body something hurts at all don't do it and move on.
Powerlifting After Hernia Surgery
Powerlifting can actually be worse then bodybuilding when it comes to hernia surgery if you are wanted to compete. You need to take it slow and ease into it after 3 months minimum before going heavy. After 6 weeks of recovery time start hitting the light weights if you feel something that's is not right then stop and move onto something else or stop completely.
What Happens If you Lift Too Much After Hernia Surgery?
After hernia surgery if you start lifting too heavy without first strengthening with light weights you can re-tear your hernia and have to start all over again. This is why it is imperative to start with light weights and start strengthening your core at around 6 weeks. After 2-3 months start pushing it a bit while listening to your body.
As you can see from the responses above start slow and continue slowly. Don't lift over 15 lbs the first 4 weeks then start strengthening your core and using light weights. After 6-8 weeks start increasing the weight and workout times slowly until you get back to your normal weight training.