View Full Version : body building after bypass

06-14-2007, 08:47 PM
I am an Exercise Specialist with a patient who was into body building prior to his heart attack and 2 vessel bypass in April of this year. He wants to continue with this activity. Any thoughts or links to helpful sites?

06-14-2007, 11:22 PM
If your patient is not even 2 months post-op, I'd be reluctant to do anything but the lightest weights. I would stay clear of machines and use free weights---dumbells would be best. Machines for any upper body exercise tend to put a person into a fixed position that might result in too much tension on the incision and sternum.

Pax Beale, a bodybuilder, has a pretty amazing cardiac hx and recovery. He gives some great ideas on how to get back into weight training after cardiac surgery. He has a book out...but this site gives a few ideas, without buying the book. Although it might be worth your rehab facility purchasing for reference.


06-15-2007, 07:01 AM
Hi Grant

I'm certainly going to order that book by Pax Beale ... although not just yet ... just seen the price ... 75 ...

The key milestones for CABG and Stent patients are the first 6 hours, then 6 weeks, then the first 6 months ... if I remember correctly ... when re-stenosis could happen as the little endothelial cells lining the insides of the coronaries get ' excited ' and multiply ... the problem areas for CABG's is at the anastomies ... the junctions created by the surgeon / cardiologist sewing the grafted blood vessel to the native vessel ... vessel spasms and re-narrowings can happen here ...

So if there is a problem with the op it will show up in this time-frame ...

The advice is pretty much the same as if a person has had a heart attack ... it takes a good 4-6 months for heart re-modelling and stroke volume to recover ... a diseased heart has been changing over a number of years ... it's flow characteristics, it's contractile characteristics, ... it's oxygen extraction characteristics, ... and often operations are left ( in the UK ) until absolutely necessary ... so you can image the condition of some hearts at this point in time ... suddenly give this tired heart some new plumbing and you can see why arrhythmias are common post surgery ...

But if you were relatively fit before the op ... the recovery will be quicker ...

So sensible advice is slowly work on the aerobics for the first six months paying particular attention to heart rates and symptoms ... then slowly introduce light resistance exercises ... maybe starting with swimming once the scar has healed ...

Improve the diet ... you don't want these new grafted coronaries to get all fatty ...

I think everyone should experience a formal cardiac rehab programme if offered to them and it is within local transport range ...

Hope this helps to focus the mind


Brian Hart
06-15-2007, 09:54 AM
I'm certainly going to order that book by Pax Beale ... although not just yet ... just seen the price ... 75 ...

As the book retails for under $29 in the States it would make sense for one of our colleagues over there to purchase it for you and mail it to UK

If there is a market for the book over here you might consider buying 10 or more and selling them on CA website?

Given that Amazon UK is selling the book for 75 you could undercut that considerably and still make a healthy profit.


06-15-2007, 12:26 PM
Just this minute emailed Pax to find out Brian ... ?


06-15-2007, 02:38 PM
:cool: [QUOTE=Trish;3210]

Pax Beale, a bodybuilder, has a pretty amazing cardiac hx and recovery.

Does it say in the book if his (Pax Beale) heart muscle was badly damaged due to an infarction? (He claims that he recovered close to fully normal heart function after being down to about twenty five per-cent.)
In my own case, I was down to about twenty per cent and now I am up to about seventy five or eighty per cent (judging from the heart's capacity to handle a workload) and improving. The body indeed has miraculous healing powers (I am learning). I believe the key is giving it the tools to work with
ie: good nourishment, excersise, enough rest and having a good mental attitude. This has worked for me. This past year has really changed me as a person. It has been a great opportunity for personal growth.

Wade (Kirtley)

06-15-2007, 07:35 PM
The most famous body builder of all time, Arnold The Governator Schwarztenegger has an artificial valve. Why not ask him what he did after his surgery? Anybody got his email address? TheGovernator@California.gov or something like that? I dunno. Maybe not.

06-15-2007, 07:58 PM
Apparently, Arnie had a valve made from his own tissue since a mechanical valve would have restricted his capacity to exercise.

06-16-2007, 01:25 PM
Is that true Ken ? Where did you hear / read that ?

I did send the sites address Arnolds way last year ... as a cheeky ' nothing to lose ' ... but sadly no response ...

I have also a confession to make ... you know I started that thread about ' Who is the greatest Cardiac Athlete ' ... well I got a brief email from ... wait for it ....

... Sir Ranulph Fiennes ( oh yes I did ! ... now where's that email ... ) to say he thought the site was great and for me to keep up the good work ... I was keeping it quiet because I offered him the chance to join anonymously ...


06-16-2007, 02:07 PM
Lars, it is mentioned here, near the end of the article.


Brian Hart
06-16-2007, 05:19 PM
.. you know I started that thread about ' Who is the greatest Cardiac Athlete ' ... well I got a brief email from ... wait for it ....
... Sir Ranulph Fiennes ( oh yes I did ! ... now where's that email ... ) to say he thought the site was great and for me to keep up the good work ... I was keeping it quiet because I offered him the chance to join anonymously ... Lars

Thats great news. As you know Sir Ran is my hero and I know Robert feels the same. Try & persuade him to say 'Hello' to us lesser mortals and give us a few words of encouragement. Pity that todays youngsters see Pop stars & pontificating, overpaid footballers as role models rather than Sir Ran.

Really chuffed with that news


06-17-2007, 11:48 AM
When I get a moment I'll be ' re-visiting ' this subject ...

I have seen a few people on the cardiac cath lab table now whose coronaries under xray fluoroscopy look like drain-pipes ... and when quizzed admit to a life-time love of lifting weights or pumping iron or hard physical labour ... maybe there is something in what Pax Beale is describing from his own true-life experiences ... there may be some truth in the exercise physiology ... repetitive moderate increases in intra-coronary blood pressure may cause the vessels to dilate ... as long as they were not atheromatous, calcific or fragile for other reasons ... I can see how there may be an adaptive response to the coronaries.

When constructing the 1RM Calculator ... one of the references I looked at did show scientific evidence for increased benefit from a combination of both aerobic and anaerobic resistance exercises ... by combining both types of exercise you get more heart benefit than if you just did aerobic exercise ... perhaps coronary dilatation is the reason for this ... ?

Worth investigating ...


06-17-2007, 03:02 PM
Hi everyone!

Several years ago, I was a fairly active member on Implantable.com. We had an amazingly inspirational athlete who posted there quite frequently. He was known as Rick "Powerman" Walker. He refused to be defined by the fact that he had a pacemaker (I do not recall his other cardiac problems if any) He was and IS beyond amazing. You can easily find information and clips of him in Strongman Competitions if you Google "Rick Walker, DieselCrew" He is the nicest guy. I actually tried to e-mail him at an old address (over 4 years old) that I had of his when I found this site, but it was no longer active, then I Googled him and was very glad to see that he is still very active in his sport. Talk about defying the odds and expectations people have for a cardiac athlele! If you have time, watch some of his inspirational clips, few people on earth can do what he does, even with a perfect heart!


Robert Hay
06-18-2007, 09:24 PM

I have also a confession to make ... you know I started that thread about ' Who is the greatest Cardiac Athlete ' ... well I got a brief email from ... wait for it ....

... Sir Ranulph Fiennes ( oh yes I did ! ... now where's that email ........

:eek: I DON"T BELIEVE IT :eek: said in my best Victor Meldrew voice

Ran !!! Well, apart from the cardiac link, I have "military service in the Oman" in common with the man.... tell him to get his arse in the forum bloody swift like...... :cool: No seriously, I would like to meet him .... quite an inspiring man...

He was there in the early 70's during the Dhofar War... I went there in 77 a couple of years after it had quietened down... although there were one or two "contacts" during my time.....

Fantastic place, fantastic people...

06-20-2007, 08:05 PM
I decided to try a little experimenting today with unilateral vs regular weight lifting. I rested between sets to get my HR back to the same starting numbers.

Using 15lbs dumbells: Standing bicep hammer curls
One arm/ 10 reps --- HR went from 85 to 102
Both arms/ 10 reps---HR went from 85 to 124

Using 15lbs dumbells: Squats
One leg/ 10 reps--- HR went from 88 to 122
Both legs/ 10 reps---HR went from 88 to 156 :eek:

I was amazed at how much more my rate went up doing squats the normal way.
Despite what the HR monitor showed, my feeling of exertion felt the same with both the squats....but much easier with the single biceps curls.

I guess doing a unilateral weight training workout would be much easier on a new heart patient or anyone starting out. Yet, it would work the particular muscle group the same.

Doing a unilateral workout, I would advise really breaking up muscle groups to no more than one or two per session...since you need to work out twice as long.

06-20-2007, 09:10 PM
Trish, this is probably a dumb question but what is unilateral weightlifting?

My knee is injured again and am off cycling while it recovers, but I need some waist upwards, weight reducing, exercise.

06-20-2007, 09:58 PM
I'm sorry Ken...I should change the way I wrote that. I am referring to using one limb at a time for weight training.

So if you were doing chest presses, you would only use one arm for a set. Then switch to the other arm. The theory is, that this puts less strain on the heart, while still getting a good weight training session in.

I'm sorry you hurt your knee! It must have been going over those Roman Roads!
There are plenty of upper body exercises you can do to keep in shape, while you recover.

06-21-2007, 07:32 AM
I am searching for Rick Walker after the tip from Shelly ...

So far I have found this ...

by Rick Walker

My gym is in a dark rundown building. This place is hardcore to the bone, complete with rusty bars and deadlift platforms. Unfortunately, the atmosphere isn't all that hardcore. Everyday I must listen to whining. Some punk is crying about how his chest won't grow, or some cry baby says his quads are too small. They stare in awe at the juiced-up bodybuilders in glossy magazines, and do crazy sets trying to be like "Flex"! No one seems to understand the value of heart, sweat, blood, and tears.
I have always been a lifter. When my friends would tone for the beach, I would be slamming the steaks and lifting freaky weights trying to add poundages to my squat, bench, and deadlift. In February of 2000, I was struck with a devastating heart problem. At only 22, I was diagnosed with a 3rd degree AV block and needed immediate surgery to implant a pacemaker. There I laid on the hospital bed, hating life and feeling sorry for myself. I felt like a little kid again, and I started acting like one, too. After 4 weeks, I had lost a lot of weight and was down to 175 pounds. I started back at the weights again but was so weak that 135 pounds felt like a freight train on my back! I went into a deep depression and even flirted with thoughts of suicide, but I knew that was not the way I would go. I was determined to beat this and show my doctors that a pacemaker is not a limitation! I began to hit the weights again. On my own, three days a week, I would plug in my walkman and pound on the weights. I suddenly noticed my strength returning. I was filling out my clothes again, and actually needing new, larger jeans. This just fueled the fire more!! I trained like mad, and went to each heart checkup with a smile on my face.
In September, I competed in a RAW powerlifting meet. I weighed in at 225, up 50 pounds from Feb. The contest was sponsored by the ADAU and I competed in the 20-23 year old 242 class. I came out and had a great day, squatting 485 after just missing 500 due to a spotter mistake. I benched 320, and deadlifted 560. All of this after having a pacemaker implanted only 7 months prior.
My point is this: God hands us all cards, and we have to play them. Too many people whine and cry instead of putting in the hard work it takes to achieve. If I can rise out of the gutter, and even with a disability achieve lifts that many "healthy" individuals cannot, then what is wrong with you?!!
I am 5'10", 220 pounds. I have 31 inch legs and 17 inch biceps. I have benched 365, squatted 510, and deadlifted 600 RAW outside of competition. I am an asthmatic, and I have a pacemaker. WHAT IS YOUR EXCUSE?????? Get in the gym and give it 100%, no less. This is how you grow; this is how you succeed! AND STOP WHINING, OR NEXT TIME I MAY HAVE TO DROP A 100 POUNDER ON YOUR NOGGIN'!!!!

... if you find others ... copy them here ... referenced back to the original source if it is obvious


06-21-2007, 08:16 AM
wow, Hard to top that for motivation.

06-21-2007, 12:38 PM
[QUOTE=Lars;3334]I am searching for Rick Walker after the tip from Shelly ...

Wow, Lars, I am glad you found that article. If you do find Rick himself, he really is an extremely nice and supportive person as well as a talented athlete. Like I said he is amazing! :D

Mike Thurston
06-25-2007, 03:44 PM
Hey Everyone,
Several years ago I became interested in the story of Warren McDonald.
Warren lost both of his legs above the knee in a freak accident on Hitchenbrook Island. In the past I had e-mailed Warren about trying to get him to Bloomington,IN. to give his presentation - could never get the job done. This past March I had to go in for an Ablation for A-Flutter. Lo and behold I find out that Warren is going to be in Evansville, IN. the same evening as my ablation. So I go to the Bloomington hospital at 6a.m. have the
ablation aroun 8a.m. return the 70 miles home that afternoon, get in the car with my buddy and arrive in Evansville (70 miles the other way) in time to meet Warren and than hear his presentation. It was an honor to shake his hand. Two days later I went to the local ER with a fever and back pain.
Couple of tests later I find out I had pnemonia and had passed a kidney stone - life is crazy sometimes. If you would like to read a great and inspirational book, pick up Warrens Book entitled "A Test Of Will". It is a incredible story of courage and will. Warren has climbed many climbs since his accident, including El Capitan in Yosemite.
Later, Mike