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Preparing Your Body For Top Surgery

It's not long now until I'll be 2 years post top surgery and, to try and help as many of you as I can, I've decided to write this post on how to prepare your body for top surgery.

Sam Barnes Lifestyle ftm top surgery

First of all, when I talk about preparing your body for top surgery, included in that is also your mind. A big part to the pre and post part of your top surgery recovery is allowing your mind to heal. Surgery is super stressful, even if you go into it feeling well prepared, you feel rough for weeks afterwards and miss being able to do the things you could before. However, when it comes to something like top surgery, it's important to remember why you're doing it. If you're going into it for the right reasons, you're now going to be able to get on with the rest of your life with a massive reduction in the feelings of dysphoria. So focus on your why!

Here's a quick guide on everything you can do before top surgery, to make things easier on your mind and body.

Your Pecs

If I had a pound for every time someone asked me how they can "grow their chest" 3 months out from top surgery, I'd be a very rich man. Building muscle is a process that takes years and years. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you're not going to see a big difference in 3 months. The sooner you can start working out before surgery, the better.

If you're someone who has a higher body fat percentage, your first point of call needs to be to lose that, before then going on to bulk back up again. This doesn't mean that you can't grow muscle and lose fat at the same time. If you're someone who is new to exercising and tracking your calories, you'll more than likely find you're able to do the two at the same time. However, after you've been working out and eating better for a while, this will come to a gradual end. You'll then have to pick a side, bulk or cut.

Depending on how much you have to lose, it could take you anywhere from 3 months to a couple of years. When it comes to bulking, it's also something that needs at least 6 months to a year plus in order to see the results. So start today!

Cutting = Lose Body Fat = Calorie Deficit

Bulking = Build Muscle = Calorie Surplus

The photo below is only about 1-2 months post surgery, in 2018.

Sam Barnes Lifestyle ftm top surgery


Obviously, there's two areas I can cover here. However, I don't want to focus on "how to drop body fat", and "how to gain muscle", because they're long paragraphs to write, and not specific to top surgery. I'd rather touch on my personal opinion on what you should do with your nutrition on your final month leading up to surgery. This goes for any kind of surgical procedure as well, whether it be top or bottom surgery.

On the final month leading up to top surgery, I (and any clients of mine who I have guided through top surgery) will drop down to maintenance macros. We don't want our bodies to be under any unnecessary stress during this time, and we certainly don't want to risk getting ill through lack of calories so, in my opinion, it's maintenance all the way.

On top of this, we should be putting even more focus than normal on our fruit and veg intake. If you don't currently track macros, it's not something I would get you to do just for top surgery, unless you had a physique goal. So, the rule on fruit and veg intake should be your main concern. Smoothies are a great daily addition for this one. There's so many combinations you can make and getting your 5 a day in one sitting can be done easily with a smoothie. On top of this, taking a multi vitamin and vitamin c supplement should give you a nice safety blanket as well.

Shopping List Pre Surgery:

• Multivitamins

• Vitamin C


(For a full pre top surgery shopping list, head here)

Your Mind

On the run up to top surgery (and also post), I think it's a good idea to take up some habits to help keep your mind stress free (or as stress free as possible before having surgery!). For me, before surgery, this was a case of doing some gentle yoga before bed. Post surgery, I used my daily stretches I was given by my surgeon as a way to clear my mind for a couple of minutes. Some other things to look at doing include:

  • Meditation

  • Journalling

  • Grounding

  • Walks in nature - No phones, loud music, etc.


Adding in cardio to any workout routine is a good choice, even when bulking. But on the lead up to surgery it's an even greater tool to implement. Here's only a handful of reasons why cardio is a great addition to your weekly workout plan:

  • Decreases your resting heart rate

  • Decreases your resting blood pressure and blood pressure during sub-maximal exercise

  • Increases stroke volume and cardiac output

  • Increases insulin sensitivity

  • Reductions in instances and likelihood of depression and anxiety

Even just one 30 minute session of cardio per week, that gets your heart rate to around 120-140bpm, it's enough to see the above effects.

For those wondering, here's a couple of side shots of my chest from today.


I put a story up on Instagram, asking you all if you had any pre top surgery questions. Here's a few of them and my answers.

Can I workout the day before top surgery?

I personally wouldn't, as I would like to think of you going into your surgery feeling well rested and recovered. I'd give yourself at least 48 hours off from any intense training pre top surgery. Although, this is only my opinion!

How did you deal with your pre surgery nerves?

The important thing to remember here is that, regardless of what type of surgery you're having, everybody gets nervous! Take some time to reassure yourself, speak to your loved ones, and utilise some deep breathing and meditation to try and help. But more than anything, don't beat yourself up about it!

Did your have to stop any medications before surgery?

I don't think so. I don't remember there being anything I was told not to take. However, this is something you need to check with your surgeon.

If you enjoyed this blog post please give it a like using the heart button below. You can also share it with anybody you think might find this useful. Next week I'll be going over How To Look After Your Body Post Top Surgery. Until then👍🏻


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