help building muscle post lung transplant


New member
So I had a lung transplant in 2004 11 years ago, am 39 now, male, with CF, I feel like Im a good weight considering my size and don't necessarily need to put on any more just general weight but do want to put on some muscle weight. Can anyone direct me to a good routine of getting into? I do have some dumbbells and weight bench, which I occasionally do but need a good plan on getting more muscle in my arms and legs. Or maybe some of you with CF who work with weights can give me some insight on doing this. Thanks


New member
Have you considered weight bearing hikes/walks? It should work most your body fairly evenly and do a fair bit for the legs. You can also take a low weight (under 10) and hold it out at arms length for as long as you can. this is an isometric exercise I've done for years. As far as beyond that I would see a trainer at the local gym.


New member
Look into basic starting strength programs like Rippetoe's. You want to train like a strength athlete and focus primarily on the squat, deadlift and bench to build a strong base.

You can do that at home as well by getting a barbell and a squat rack.

Read all the stickies on forums like for a while to learn the basics on training and food. All of that applies to CF'ers and is invaluable knowledge for when being sick as well.

How is your health otherwise? How are your lungs doing 11 years after?


I don't know how much truth there is to this - but I recall when I was being listed, one of my docs telling me: "Put all of the muscle you can put on right now because once you're on prednisone, you won't build any more muscle mass"... I'm unsure whether he was speaking to the higher doses right after transplant - or long term - and I don't even know if there's any truth to the statement at all... From what I've heard from other docs, I believe that there might be an effect - but I don't know about "won't build any more..."

I'm 15 years out - I know I've put on substantial muscle since - I was 5'6" and 110 pounds when I was listed - I'm struggling to stay away from 160 pounds now and there is a fair amount of new muscle - but I've also got the typical spare-tire / belly fat that many of us develop on cortico-steroids...

Hardak's idea about weight-bearing activities like walks, hikes is probably good - particularly for legs... I think the greatest muscle mass I've built in my legs. (I don't even recognize them in a mirror...) I walk 7+ miles daily and we climb 108 commercial floors of stairs (around 2200 steps) once or twice weekly for exercise / training...

TwistOfChaos probably has good ideas for building other than legs... Hope you're doing well at 11 years out!!! At 15 -- this breathing stuff, with beautiful, "real" lungs still blows my freaking mind!!! Love, Steve


New member
Post TX is not really much different than pre TX when it comes to building muscle. It's a formula. You have to lift heavy weights with enough of a stimulus to cause your body to want to get bigger muscles. Then you have to eat enough calories to support this. If you are under eating, you will get stronger to a point, but not bigger. If you eat too much, you will gain muscle and fat. The key is that it has to be heavy weights.

An example of a good mass building program would look like this:
barbell squats
Barbell deadlifts
Barbell Bench Press

Monday is moderate day with 4-5 sets of 10 reps
Wednesday is heavy day with 5 sets of 6
Friday is light day with 3 sets of 15

Good luck!!


New member
You're 15 years out and are still walking 7 miles a day? That's amazing. I take it that means you have not had any real rejection issues?


New member
Hi Thisisme,

I am a fellow CFer, new to this site though, work full-time, age 37, 5'10", about 148 lbs., about 45% FEV1 now, but have lifted weights since about 13 yrs old to help stay stable ... I haven't had a transplant but I at least can tell you the 30 min. routines I've done for about 25 yrs now (i'm not good on what exercises are actually called, just tried to describe them ...). It's a light version of a routine a bodybuilder friend gave me long ago. I stay with it by slowly trying to increase heavy weights but going slow! I don't do it to look like a bodybuilder or anything, it helps to strengthen your core, everything else so your muscles open up your ribcage and make it easier to breath ... although you can see a bit of muscle, which is nice :rolleyes::

Monday: Chest and Arm day (6 bench sets including incline, decline, flat; 6 sets curls including hammer curls, incline, standard; 2 sets of 18 reps push downs at various angles)

Tuesday: Leg day (3 sets squats, 3 sets walking lunges, 3 sets leg curls, 3 sets reverse curls - laying down flat on chest on machine and curl legs up to your butt, 3 sets calf raises)

Wednesday: Rest day

Thursday: Back day (2 sets pull downs, 3 sets lat seated row, 3 sets of lat work laying on flat bench with a weight held with both hands, arms overhead and curl it up and over to chest, 3 sets neck crunches - hold weights at side and lift shoulders to neck)

Friday: Shoulders and Triceps day (3 sets tricep push down on machine, 3 sets tricep reverse curls - a weight overhead held with both hands with arms bent at 90 degrees and curl up over head, 3 sets shoulder curls - weights at side and lift to 90 degrees, 3 sets - weights held down in front of body and lift to 90 degrees)

Saturday: Either run, yoga, stretch, or swim, ... something for 30 min ... swimming is just awesome if you have access, with a 30-minute sauna after (NOT steam though, too many germs)

Sunday; Rest day

KEY THING: between each set, only take a max of a 1-minute break ... treat it like circuit training, which makes it feel like a cardio workout in a way, especially to a CFer! At first, its tough to only take a 1-min break because you'll be winded but thats the goal to work to!

After each workout I'm always sure to: 1) do about a 10-minute stretching routine covering all major muscle groups, 2) get about 30 grams of protein with about 700 calories (I drink "Boost - high calorie" made be Nestle and add about 12 oz of 2& milk and then have almonds, granola or healthy cereal)

That seems to have helped me stay stable for many years. Of course, I've had my share of run-ins with the very nasty necrotizing pneumonia, a few hospitalizations, but overall feel pretty good ... even at about 45% FEV1 and living in Colorado!

Hope that helps! If you want to know more I can definitely elaborate ...

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