Welcome to the beginner’s chest workout at home!

I put this particular plan together for a friend of mine who’s currently preparing for a top surgery revision. He reached out to me for help with building chest muscle at home, as advised by his surgeon.

Exercising for Top Surgery

My friend’s surgeon suggested that having more muscle in the chest area would help to enhance the result of his revision surgery.

Although I put this basic workout together specifically for him, anyone who is looking for help getting the hang of chest day can benefit from this routine.

This workout is designed to be done with just a basic set of adjustable dumbbells. The specific weight that you use will naturally depend on how strong you are, so play around with the weights you have to find a good fit. Each exercise should be challenging, but it should still be possible to mostly complete all the reps.

Be sure to warm up first and to do some cool-down stretches at the end once you’re done.

You can click here to download a PDF version of this workout!

Chest Workout

For Beginners

(Home-Based)

I recommend that you do this workout once every three days for the best results. Do not do this workout any more regularly than once every three days. This is because your muscles need time to recover if they are to grow.

This is a fairly basic chest workout. It’s designed to someone get started with working out and to build up confidence. Once you have enjoyed this workout for a few weeks, it’s a good idea to mix it up with something new. This helps to keep your mind and your body challenged, and ensures you’re always moving forwards towards your fitness goals.

The structure of the workout

The majority (but not all) of the exercises in this routine follow a reverse-pyramid protocol when it comes to the weight of the dumbbells. This means that you perform your heaviest set first and then drop the weight for the following sets. Although you’ll need to be resting between each set, you should also be using this time to adjust the weight of the dumbbells you’re using. You might find this tricky at first, but you’ll soon get used to it!

The structure of this workout makes it more likely that you will reach muscle failure with each set – which can be a good thing! This workout also uses drop sets, which means you go to a light weight and perform the exercise to failure. The drop set is totally optional, so don’t do it if you don’t enjoy it. 

If you only have one set of weights (that aren’t adjustable) then it’s also fine to use the same weight for each set.

Let’s get started!

First exercise: Push-ups

Set 1: 10 Incline Push-ups (if you can’t do 10 then go to failure)

Set 2: 15 Regular Push-ups (if you can’t do 15 then go to failure)

Set 3: 10 Decline Push-ups (if you can’t do 10 then go to failure)

Rest for 60 seconds between sets

Second exercise: Dumbbell Floor Press

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Hold one dumbbell in each hand, with the backs of your hands resting on the floor by your shoulders. Your elbows should also be in contact with the floor. Straighten your arms and push the dumbbells up towards the ceiling. Hold at the top for a moment and then return to the starting position. This is one rep.

Set 1: 10 reps

Set 2: 12 reps – drop the weight

Set 3: 15 reps – drop the weight

Drop set: Reduce weight and go to failure

Rest for 60 seconds between sets

Third exercise: Dumbbell Floor Fly

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Hold one dumbbell in each hand, with your arms straight out to each side, and the backs of your hands resting on the floor. Keep your arms straight, making sure to not lock your elbows, and bring both arms up so that they meet directly above your chest. Hold at the top for  a moment and then return to the starting position. This is one rep.

Set 1: 10 reps

Set 2: 12 reps – drop the weight

Set 3: 15 reps – drop the weight

Drop set: Reduce weight and go to failure

Rest for 60 seconds between sets

Fourth Exercise: Svend Press Variation with Dumbbell

Stand tall with your chest forwards and your shoulders back. Keep your feet hip-width apart and do not lock your knees. Take a dumbbell in each hand with a supine grip and push them together as hard as possible directly out in front of your chest. Pull the weights in towards your chest, making sure to keep them pressed firmly against each other and then back out again. This is one rep.

Set 1: 10 reps

Set 2: 12 reps – drop the weight

Set 3: 15 reps – drop the weight

Drop set: Reduce weight and go to failure

Rest for 60 seconds between sets

Fifth Exercise: Single Chair Dips for Chest

Stand in front of the seat of the chair, facing away from it. Lower your body so that your hips are at seat height and grip the front corners of the chair with each hand. Reach your legs out in front of you, but maintain a slight bend in the knees. Lean forwards slightly and lower your body down towards the floor, hold for a second and then lift yourself back up to the starting position. This is one rep.

Set 1: 15 reps

Set 2: 12 reps

Set 3: 10 reps

Rest for 60 seconds between sets

That’s it – you’re done lifting for today!

Make sure you stretch your chest out before you get back to your day.

Any questions? Head over to my contact page to send me an email and you’ll receive a response within 24 hours.

How can I prepare my body for top surgery?

If you are preparing your body to have top surgery then paying extra attention to your chest during your gym routine can be a great idea.

However, it is by no means essential to do this, and you can certainly still have a successful surgery without ever having done so. But, if it’s your aim to create a sculpted and defined chest post-surgery, then it can be helpful to start training pre-surgery.

Should I lose weight for top surgery?

If your surgeon has advised you to lose weight before top surgery, then this could be for a number of reasons. It is entirely up to you whether you wish to follow this advice or not.

Surgery itself, and the use of anaesthetic, can carry an increased risk for those who are considered to be overweight. You can click here to read more about why.

Although most surgeons won’t disqualify you from surgery for being overweight, they might encourage you to try to lose some weight before the surgery to help reduce the risk of complications. Also, losing excess weight before top surgery specifically can help with how your chest looks once everything is healed. Again, it is always up to you whether you wish to make changes or not.

I know several people who embarked upon extreme diets in order to try to get their weight down quickly for gender-affirming surgery, and this is because they felt pressured to do so by their surgeon. Dieting like this is unlikely to work in a sustainable or healthy way, and can also affect your physical health and emotional wellbeing.

Aiming to follow a balanced meal plan and exercise often is arguably the healthiest and most effective way to reach and maintain a healthy weight.

This generally means eating less sugar, less saturated fat, less fried foods, and eating more fresh, whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and naturally occurring carbohydrates.

If you want to talk about your diet, or have questions about any of the points raised in this post, then you can reach me via email anytime.

Should I shave my chest for top surgery?

Shaving your chest before top surgery is not necessary!

Your surgeon will likely advise that you should wash your body thoroughly before surgery, but that there’s no need to shave. This is generally true of all surgical procedures.

If the surgeon needs an area of your body to be shaved—for any surgery—then this will be done for you on the day.

What should you not do before top surgery?

When you’re about to have top surgery, your surgeon will give you full details of how to prepare. In the hours before your surgery, you’ll be unable to eat or drink anything.

Although it can be hard, you should try to get as much rest as possible before your surgery and not stress yourself out. Being as relaxed and calm as possible can help you to approach the surgery in the best possible mindset.

When’s the best time to exercise?

This is a common question and one that depends entirely on your schedule and energy levels.

If you have to be up early for any reason, then you might not have time to exercise in the morning. However, if you can make time for it, then this can be an invigorating way to begin your day.

If you’re someone who needs a coffee and some peace before you truly get into your day, then the idea of a morning workout might fill you with dread. If so, don’t worry, squeezing a workout in during the day, or towards the end of the evening, is also a great achievement.

If you notice that working out in the evening is keeping you awake at night, then this is not uncommon. The extra adrenaline from intense activity can interfere with your sleep. If this is the case, then think about moving your workout to the morning or afternoon.

What’s a drop set?

A drop set is a great way to mix up your weight training. The idea is that you use a light weight to perform an exercise to failure. This will seriously fatigue the muscles that you’re using.

When you’re doing a drop set, the most important thing is your form and technique. Make sure you’re not sacrificing your technique for the sake of getting more reps in. If you are, then this should be considered as having reached failure.

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