Despite calls for the routine implementation of pre-operative exercise programmes to optimise patient fitness before elective major surgery, there is no practical guidance for providing safe and effective exercise in this specific context. The following clinical guideline was developed following a review of the evidence on the effects of pre-operative exercise interventions. We developed a series of best-practice and, where possible, evidence-based statements to advise on patient care with respect to exercise training in the perioperative period. These statements include: patient selection for exercise training in surgical patients; integration of exercise training into multi-modal prehabilitation programmes; and advice on exercise prescription factors and follow-up. Although we acknowledge that further research is needed to identify the optimal exercise prescription in different clinical scenarios, we urge perioperative teams to embrace these recommendations.