Prison Workouts- How Prisoners Stay Ripped- 4 Things to Learn

Prisoner workout prisoner pull up bar

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I want to preface this article by saying just because the title is “Prison Workouts” doesn’t mean we are in any way negatively judging or condoning prisoners or ex-prisoners. Now that that is out of the way, let’s begin:

We’ve all seen this before, whether in real life or through the media: A person is incarcerated and comes out as ripped as ever.

Some of them lose it, some of them maintain it. But how do prisoner workouts make it possible to get so ripped?

prisioner workouts tattoo

In this article, we are going to dispel common myths and give you the top tips you can learn from prison workouts.

Why Prisoners are So Ripped?

There are four main reasons. Prisoner workouts work.


1. Ironically, lots of “Free time” to Workout

Most prisoners have designated times in which they can work out. But a lot of them double up workouts in their holding cells in order to get the most reps in.

There are also fewer distractions such as social media, Netflix, and work or social demands to keep up with.


2. Limited area and Equipment Makes it so Prisoners must Adapt their Workout

Keep in mind; You can’t do a dumbbell workout for your arms because you have no dumbbells. It’s just you. In a room.

Prisoner workout plank

Some people see this as a weakness, but a lot of prisoners take advantage of what they can do.


3. Lone Soldier Mentality

There is something about being for your own. No lazy spouse to drag you down. No naysayers or judgemental people in your ear on social media.

You do, however, have a lot of opposition in prison. Someone may get offended over something small, causing you to get into a physical altercation.

Survival-of-the-fittest element comes into play here, and you realize you must adapt to survive. Being fat or being a twig isn’t going to fare well for you in the long run.

Prison isn’t a fun location to be. You continuously have to watch your back and protect and defend yourself from unwanted encounters of organized attacks.

Consistently maintaining good form through prison workouts are an easy way to deter others from trying anything against you.


4. Restricted Diets

Prison Food- Prison DietYou don’t have the option of eating four-course meals or any fast-food in prison. There are fewer options when it comes to eating.

Some prisoners will bully others into getting food in order to maintain higher weights, but most stay in a range sustainable to the regular intake they are permitted. They can quickly cut after bulking or control portion sizes when needed.


Why Prison Workouts Would Be good to Implement for You


First things first, stop thinking of the workouts as prisoner-exclusive.

What these exercises entail is merely simple to complicated calisthenics. Many will build from one level to another to achieve a better form.


4 Things to Take Away

Prison workouts perspective

  1. You should think like a prisoner in some ways. Think in terms of “structured” time, space, and equipment. Focus on what you do have. When you realize all it takes is 30 minutes a day to make a huge difference, you begin to realize just how lazy most of us are. Prisoners prove that all you need is a dinky bedroom, and the will power to get it done.
  2. You should also realize that there are menial things in your day that you can cut out in order to make time to workout.
  3. Be sure to be thankful for gym memberships and other advantages that you have that can give you an edge that prisoners don’t have. A Simple Pull Up Bar can do wonders.
  4. Create a structured diet that is predictable but not boring. Keep it lean and know the number of calories and macros you’re eating. For a guide on what to eat pre- during and post-workout, click here.


Common Prison Workout Exercises to Get You In Shape:

Almost every prisoner’s workout routine consists of specific dynamic movements mixed with modified body weight resistance.

The BURPEE (Prisoner Workouts 101)

You can’t have a prison workout without a burpee. You target multiple muscle groups and are able to work on cardio through HIIT performance.


Almost everyone knows how to do a burpee, but make sure that you keep your core engaged when you hop from one position to the other.

Also, when you are jumping, bend at the knees upon impact, so you don’t wear out your knee caps.

Keep your fingers wide and make sure your back and neck are in a natural position as you come down into the pushup.

Do 20 reps at least, and begin to build more and more sets into your workout as you progress.



Push-ups (With Prison Exercise Modifications)

You may not be at the point at which a push-up is like second nature, but believe me, most prisoners who are focusing on fitness get to this point quickly.

The first thing you want to do is build up your reps. You may have seen something like this in a push-up challenge video on Youtube or Pinterest, but try to get from where you are by adding 5 or 10 more reps each day (without stopping).


After you get too comfortable with standard push-ups, start trying variations such as:push up prisoner style workout

  • Triangle Pushups- (forming a triangle with your hands and coming down into your chest.
  • Incline Pushups- A regular push up but with your torso elevated on something. Some people say these are easier, but you can target and work different groups of back muscles.
  • Decline Pushups- A regular push up but with your feet on an elevated surface and your torso facing downward.
  • Clapping Pushups- Once you push yourself up, clap your hands quickly and put them back on the ground before your face collides with the ground.

Etc. There are endless variations to the pushup, but the point is the more reps, and different safe angles you do, the more ripped and toned you will look.

Again, progressively add reps and sets as needed.


Tricep Dips (Prisoner Workouts 101)

man boobs exercises- dips with benchPut your fingers for your chair or mattress, and keep your legs out straight.

Flex your shoulders back and dip using your tricep muscles to move down slowly to about 90 Degrees.

Keep your core tight along the way.

If it is hard for you, you can put your feet up, as seen in the graphic, and dip down.

Variations include legs raised in the air suspended (but you typically need bars for the more advanced variations.


Low or High Planks (Prisoner Workouts 101)

It’s hard to go wrong with such a classic core building exercise. Planks help you develop stability and have more control over your torso.


Make sure your shoulders are aligned with your elbows. You don’t want to be too far forward or too far back as this could mess up your shoulder.

Also, keep your head and neck in a neutral spine position.

To increase the intensity, simply hold for more extended periods or do plank-ups (Transitioning from low plank to high plank one arm at a time.


Pull-Ups (Optimal Scenario Prison Workout)

Some Prisons and Jails are fortunate enough to have Pull Up Bars. These are a prisoner favorite because they can target all upper body muscles, including the back muscles most people don’t think about.


Start with a wider overhand grip and keep your torso and legs straight. Pull your body up to the bar without bending your knees.

Variations include overhand grip, underhand grip, wide grip, etc.

For a more step by step guide- taking you from one pull up bar exercise to the next. Click here.

Workout Products you May Be Interested In:



Prisoner workout prisoner pull up bar

Prison Workouts teach us a lot about what we are capable of.

The good news is, if you’re reading this, you are most likely not in jail, so take advantage of every moment.

Use the four tips as well as the exercises to lose weight, get ripped, and stay ripped.

Working out like a prisoner is not that bad after all, so give it a try and stick with it long enough to see a difference.

For another high intensity workout you can do at home, click here.


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2 thoughts on “Prison Workouts- How Prisoners Stay Ripped- 4 Things to Learn”

  1. Pingback: Fitness For Entrepreneurs- Creating Your Best Version | Flexible Workout

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