Models stretching on the stairs outside in athletic clothes
Best Exercises To Prepare For Your Preventative Mastectomy

Best Exercises To Prepare For Your Preventative Mastectomy

Dana Donofree
8 min read

Best Exercises To Prepare For Your Preventative Mastectomy

Train like an angel? Nah. Train like a previvor. If you've tested positive for a genetic mutation (like the BRCA gene), and have decided to take the brave step of getting a preventative double mastectomy, we see you girl! That was NOT an easy choice, but you are taking life by the reins and becoming your own superhero. As far as we're concerned, you're badass AF. Know what else is badass AF? Training for your double mastectomy. It goes without saying that a double mastectomy will take a huge physical toll on your body, but there are ways you can prepare your body beforehand to make healing afterward easier.  

Some previvors out there have found that getting physically fit (or fitter!) prepared their bodies for their mastectomies, and even helped them heal faster after surgery. We know how daunting this surgery can be, so we are here to help you navigate the uncharted waters leading up to your big surgical day including what workouts will help best strengthen your body before going under the knife. We call this pre-hab.

Should I Workout For My Preventative Double Mastectomy?

"I always encourage people to train for their surgery if they have the time or ability to," says Paige More, a BRCA positive surgery vet. For More, training for her preventative mastectomy was the best thing she could have ever done to get ready for the removal of her breasts. She remembers asking her doctor how she could best prepare for her surgery. "I asked him if there were certain parts of my body I should strengthen before my surgery, and when he told me 'no,' I just couldn't accept it. I knew that strengthening my body would help me heal from my surgery faster, so instead of listening to that doctor, I got in the best shape of my life and trained for my double mastectomy."

How to Exercise Pre-Mastectomy

And now for the question on all of your minds: What exercises should I be doing to prepare for my preventative double mastectomy? Check with your doctor first (see complete disclaimer below) and then check out some of our go-to prep workouts below. Here are the general things you should focus on when designing your mastectomy exercise routine. 

  • Build Muscles in the Arms - When preparing for a mastectomy, integrate a few more upper body workouts into your routine than you normally would. Why? Unfortunately, you aren't going to be able to do a ton of lifting after your surgery. That's why special post-surgery bras that don't require you to raise your arms are so clutch. This means you may have a couple of weeks or a month of not putting your arms to use at all, which can result in some significant muscle loss. Build those muscles beforehand to stay strong after and prevent injury while healing.
  • Focus on Low Body Strength - You also need to add lower body weight training to your list of preventative mastectomy exercises. Weight lifting after mastectomy surgery can be especially tough, which is why pre-training is so important. Increasing your lower body strength and endurance will help you feel stronger post-surgery, because those muscle groups will help you stand and walk in a quicker and easier way post-surgery.
  • Don't Forget to Stretch - If you've been looking for a good reason to buy a pass at the fancy yoga studio, this is it! Routine stretching can help you prepare for mastectomy and prevent injuries while healing. It's especially important to focus on gently stretching the back, shoulders, and hamstrings as part of your mastectomy pre-hab regimen. If you're not into yoga or Pilates, just make sure to add full-body stretches before and after any weight training or aerobic exercise.

Strap into your badass  Paige Sports Bra, find a solid surface (like a park bench, or workout bench) and gives these upper and lower body workouts a try.



Place your right foot on a step or bench and put your hands on your hips. Push yourself up until your right leg is straight and you're standing on the bench. Squeeze your glute muscle to raise your left leg as far behind you as possible without arching your back. Reverse to return to start. That's one rep. Repeat on the left leg. Alternate sides for a total of 10 to 12 reps. 


 Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, at a comfortable distance from the box. To initiate the movement, bend your knees and push your hips back while swinging your arms behind you. Push your feet off the floor explosively to propel yourself onto the box. To absorb the impact into your glutes and hamstrings, land in a partial squat, with your back flat, chest up (don't round!), and your knees tracking over your toes. Carefully step down. Repeat 5-7 reps.

Pre-Mastectomy Upper Body Workouts

Increasing your upper body strength pre-surgery may seem counterintuitive, but having stronger muscles before surgery can help during the surgical process, and while healing. "After my surgery, my doctors and nurses told me that my surgery was a lot shorter because of how strong my muscle was when they opened me up. A few weeks later, they were blown away, and told me they couldn't believe how strong I was so soon following surgery," More said.

Grab your Bianca Sports Bra, a set of weights you feel confident using and try these upper body workouts: 


Stand or sit up straight and hold one (1) dumbbell with both hands. Raise it above your head making sure it's vertical and in line with your spine. Engage your core and slowly lower the weight behind your head until your forearms touch your biceps; then press back up to the start, keeping your upper arms stationary.

Try this with a 2lb-5lb weight for 8-10 reps.


Grab a set of dumbbells and stand with your feet two-fists-width apart. Hinge at the hips and bend your arms to 90 degrees. Press the dumbbells back, and as you straighten your arm, squeeze your triceps. Return to start. Try to complete 8-10 reps.


Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, hold a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height, palms facing forward. Raise each arm to push the weight up until it is fully extended above your head. Lower to the start position and repeat. Keep your core activated throughout! Try this with a 2lb-5lb weight for 8-10 reps.


Grab a lighter set of dumbbells that you don't struggle to lift (we recommend 2lb-5lb). Hold them next to your sides, with a slight bend at your elbow. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and squeeze your core, bending your elbows.

Raise your arms straight out to your sides, maintaining your elbow position, until they reach shoulder height. Your body should look like the letter "T", or a cross. Pause at the top for a beat, then lower the weights at a controlled pace back to the starting position. Try 8-10 reps

Best Pre-Mastectomy Sports Bras

Getting dressed is the first step, getting yourself mentally ready for the gym. Paige says, "I feel like getting dressed is half the battle, and once you are in your workout gear you feel good. But if you don't even feel good getting dressed, you're not going to feel good in the gym."

Finding a comfortable, supportive sports bra to wear to the gym can be hard, but it can be even trickier to find a sports bra you can wear both before AND after your mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. That's why we designed AnaOno Active: our brand new range of sports bras designed to get your body moving. We designed these bras with your exact post-surgical comfort needs in mind. With ultra-soft breathable materials and a fit made to support your reconstructed foobs, these bras will help you feel like the badass you are while you build your body back up after surgery. ⁠⠀⠀

#AnaOnoActive exists to encourage you to take small incremental steps toward your goals every. single. day. We know that eventually these baby steps will lead to small victories, and eventually those small victories will add up to huge wins. And on the days you are feeling discouraged just remember:⠀⠀

AnaOno's sports bras are for those with one, two, or no boobs. Or even our F(oo)Bs! Many doctors recommend athletic bras for their patients post-mastectomy. Why? Because sports bras have no underwire and they have soft (not molded) cups. However, wearing these bras can be uncomfortable, too restricting to get on, or even cause additional pain (especially if you try to fit into your old ones). Our new AnaOno's mastectomy sport bras, Paige and Bianca fit the bill, plus they are pocketed for people who want to be active while even wearing lightweight breast forms. The cups are super soft and comfy on your reconstructed breasts, and they support the remaining natural breast in the case of unilateral mastectomy.

Model stretching with hands up in the air

The Paige is our brand new super sexy, supportive, breathable sports bra. 

Meet The Paige Wrap Front Sports Bra, our brand new plunging sexy wrap bra made with you in mind! This ultra-comfortable bra is pocketed for all your needs, soft around your sensitive areas, and features light-medium support, perfect for getting back into your exercise routine. No matter what your exercise of choice is, Paige will breathe with you all the way through it with the mesh cross-back panel. The three-hook closure and adjustable straps allow for a customizable fit. Even better? This super cute wrap front is perfect for supporting you with whatever body type you have, whether you have two boobs, one boob, no boobs, or F(oo)Bs! This post-surgical sports bra is a wrap style that will lay flat, so if you've chosen to stay unreconstructed, we've got you covered!  

Shop Paige Wrap Front Sports Bra


Models up against a brick wall after a workout in workout clothes

The brand new Bianca Sports bra is the easiest sports bra to get into - period! Say "hello" to front closure hooks!

Say "Heyyy" to Bianca, your new favorite sports bra! This is your new go-to for all your workouts after your breast surgery. You'll feel supported, comfortable, and sporty while at the gym, on the trails, or in the yoga studio - all while looking amazing! You'll easily get into and out of the Bianca with its front closure, so you can get back to yoga, walking, surfing, spin class, running, or whatever you love to do that keeps your endorphins flowing! Both Paige and Bianca are supportive without compressing or restricting your breast tissue, so no additional pain added to that workout! 

 Shop Bianca Front Closure Sports Bra


AnaOno strongly recommends that you consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program. AnaOno is not a licensed medical care provider and represents that it has no expertise in diagnosing, examining, or treating medical conditions of any kind, or in determining the effect of any specific exercise on a medical condition.

You should understand that when participating in any exercise or exercise program, there is the possibility of physical injury. If you engage in this exercise or exercise program, you agree that you do so at your own risk, are voluntarily participating in these activities, assume all risk of injury to yourself, and agree to release and discharge AnaOno from any and all claims or causes of action, known or unknown, arising out of exercises described on the AnaOno website. 

The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice, or delay in seeking it, because of something you have read on this website. Never rely on information on this website in place of seeking professional medical advice.

AnaOno is not responsible or liable for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis, or any other information, services or products that you obtain through this site. You are encouraged to consult with your doctor with regard to this information contained on or through this website. After reading articles, watching videos, or reading other content from this website, you are encouraged to review the information carefully with your professional healthcare provider.

Dana Donofree
Dana Donofree

Founder and CEO of AnaOno. After a diagnosis of breast cancer in her late 20’s, Dana took her own lived experience and fashion design background and (re)designed intimates for those that have undergone breast surgery. Dana’s story has been published around the world in outlets like New York Times, BBC, Huffington Post, The Today Show, and more.