You can start with a gentle 10 minutes ride without much effort and over the course of a couple of weeks increase resistance to the level that you have to put in some moderate effort.
After your back surgery it is most important that you do your back and core strengthening exercises and that you maintain a back/core strengthening exercise program long term. Yoga is an excellent method for such exercises. We have also found STEALTH quite a helpful tool (http://www.stealthbodyfitness.com).
More specifically about CAROL – the limiting factor will be discomfort and pain that you will still feel in the lower back muscles once you start activating more. Start in Free-Ride mode and set resistance to something low and see how that feels. You can start with a gentle 10 minutes ride without much effort and over the course of a couple of weeks increase resistance to the level that you have to put in some moderate effort.
Once you can do 15 mins on free-ride at a moderate intensity (something like 300 Watts), you could try an Energizer ride. That is the same as the Intense Ride, just with shorter 10 seconds sprints. And for the first few rides, do not go “full out” during the sprints. After a few rides when you feel comfortable and the rides do not cause any discomfort, you can try to go “full out” during the Energizer 10 second sprints. And once you can do these without discomfort in the back – you can go back to the Intense rides as before.
Depending on what exactly the surgery was that you had, we would expect this recovery and re-toning to take 2-3 months from the day that you start exercising again. If you can tolerate increases in exercise faster, great, but I would not be in a hurry with CAROL. More important that you focus on core and back muscle strength first.
Note: With anything concerning your health, our advice is always to consult with your doctor.
We do have a resident doctor in the CAROL team and he provided the advice stated in this post.